It's a knife cleaner and polisher - used before the days of stainless steel. Curt Dalton provided the attached photo from this website www.sensationpress.com/victorianknifecleaners.htm
Several of you came close - guessing that it's meant to polish, grind, or clean something. The Hervey Bay Historical Museum in Australia responded with gratitude for the Dayton Engineers Club solving their puzzle. They plan to refit the machine with rubber rollers to make it work.