The Object At Hand: Revealed!
The object at hand is of wooden construction, with heavy ~3cm oak side panels joined by dovetailing. It stands about a meter high.
The top is hinged to open upward, allowing access to a deep, unlined compartment. There is also a single drawer at the bottom of the compartment.
Although it has feet for standing on the floor, there is also a loop at the top of the structure which would seem to allow it to be mounted on a wall--although the loop could serve as a handle instead or as well, as a smallish hand could fit comfortably in the loop.
The methods and materials of its construction point to the early-mid 20th century. Others like it are not necessarily as sturdy, being constructed of thinner wood, veneer, or even wicker in some cases.
The item was purchased at The Box of Used Stuff for 14 euros, and successfully carried home on the Metro without clunking anyone in the head.
Although this item still has use in its intended purpose in France, in the present-day US it would not.
What is it? Post your answer in the comments.
The first correct answer gets... I dunno, something.
EDIT: The prize has been determined! The first correct answer will receive the most interesting item I can buy for under €5 at La Boite d'Occases that will fit in a smallish, airmail-able box. Pernod promotional cigarette lighter! Johnny Hallyday's Greatest Hits on CD! A funny-looking doorknob! Who knows?
THE SECRET REVEALED! It's a baguette box. French kitchens are usually tiny, with very little counter space (in fact, large kitchens with lots of counters and modern appliances are known in real-estate listings as "cuisine americain"). So when you bring home your meter-long baguette in the morning--which you do every morning--there's no place to put it except to balance it across a chair (where the dog will lick the flour off) or stand it in the corner with the dust and spiderwebs and such (see note concerning dog). Hence the baguette box. The next day, after the remaining few inches of bread have hardened into a railroad spike and been thrown out for the pigeons, the drawer is taken out and shaken to get rid of the crumbs.
When we get back to the US, land of no baguettes (except those soulless, flaccid, preservative-ridden lumps of sadness sold as "French bread" at Harris Teeter), this particular example is destined to hold umbrellas, or maybe disassembled fishing rods.
As the correct answer was not arrived at, I'll go find something interesting under €5 at the Boite for myself. And if it's sufficiently interesting, I'll post about it.