I quite frequently encounter very old (1920s-1960s) tripods at yard sales, fleamarkets, estate sales... that have no leg spread limiting mechanism at all. These commonly have sharp-tipped feet also. While the sharp tipped feet will keep the tripod standing if a) not loaded heavily and b) if set up on dirt or other malleable surfaces, it is hard to keep these from collapsing on smooth tile or laminate floors. The only (weak) reason to build them like that seems to be that some are reversible, allowing use of either a 1/4" or 3/8" bolt on either side of the hub piece. While the screws can be tightened somewhat to cause more friction at the leg joins, usually not enough friction can be achieved to keep the whole setup sturdy without risking stripped screws.
Were these intended to be used only on semi-soft ground or with a wheel dolly or some other spread limiting accessory attached? What is the rationale here?