I personally had no real idea what it was when I found this piece, but now it makes perfect sense this would be the right tool for stirring and lifting clothes from washtubs. What I find especially intruiging about it are the cartoonish pyrograph designs, including spotted dog, Indian head, and flowers and vines, as well as two sets of initials, HJG and HJP.
I’ve learned that in the late 19th and early 20th century women especially were encouraged to learn pyrography, especially as a means of decorating household items, and pyrography kits were sold through various mail-order sources including the Sears catalog and advertisements in women’s magazines. So I would guess it was a woman who did these designs, and that this was was her laundry stick throughout from girlhood to old age, thus the change of last initial. What a special thing now to be the caretaker of!
The fork measures 25 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2" wide, and 3/4" thick.