Early 20th C Puzzle Jewellery Box With Secret Lock And Compartment

( JB559 )
Sold ~ Please contact us if you're looking for a similar box and we will endeavour to source one for you!

Beautiful Italian puzzle jewellery box from the early 20th century. Secret high-quality continental lock and secret compartment. New fully refurbished interior. Made in Sorrento.

Early 20th C Puzzle Jewellery Box With Secret Lock And Compartment

  FREE UK NEXT DAY DELIVERY. We Ship Worldwide. 

This is a wonderful high-quality jewellery box. It was made in Sorrento, in Southern Italy and it dates to the early 20th century. It is a lovely puzzle box with a secret lock and a secret compartment. The box has a high-quality continental lock with a double locking mechanism. The interior has been fully refurbished by our skilled box restorer.

This particular puzzle box is a fabulous large example of its type! Most puzzle boxes of this age and style are a fair bit smaller.

The Exterior

This box is made of solid Olivewood, further details of which are given below. The Olivewood has a lovely aged patina and beautiful figuration.

The box is in the form of books. There are two books horizontally placed at the top and bottom, and a row of upright volumes in between. These are all numbered with hand-painted Roman Numerals (I to XI). There are also further hand-painted details to all of the thirteen books.

The lid has beautiful hand-painted flowers. These are surrounded by a beautifully inlaid tesselated micro mosaic frame. This inlay features Roses and leaves. Details of this tesselated micro mosaic inlay can be found below.

The box is complete with its original hinges. It also has its original high-quality lock (and key) which is hidden behind the upright volumes. Details of the lock can be found below.

There is a secret compartment within the bottom horizontally placed book. This compartment is shallow and ideal for private/treasured letters and photos etc. The key to this box can also be stored in there for safekeeping.

The Micro Mosaic Tesselated Inlay

This type of inlay is skillfully created with thousands of tiny pieces of wood. It is painstakingly put together over many, many hours, to form a beautiful mosaic pattern. Several varieties of wood are used to add colour and dimension to the mosaic. Stain is sometimes added to the wood, also to add colour.

About Olivewood

Olivewood has a distinctive grain and rich colour which gives it a beautiful appearance. It has characteristic brown and yellow streaks which make for a beautiful contrast. These features make it a sought after wood for decorative items such as jewellery boxes.

Olivewood is also favoured for its hardness. It is a strong durable wood with a fairly high density and it takes well to cutting and polishing.

The Olive tree primarily grows in the coastal regions of the Mediterranean. Its wood has been used for many years by Italian box makers in particular. It is also a favoured wood in areas of the Holy Lands such as Jerusalem.

Details of the Continental Lock

This box has a wonderful continental lock which was designed to deter thieves from stealing its contents. It was cleverly designed so that its key could be turned TWICE, to both lock and unlock the box. The idea was that an intruder would believe the lock to be faulty when it did not open upon just one turn! The lock can, however, be operated with just one turn if desired.

The Interior

The interior has a single large storage compartment which has been beautifully refurbished by our skilled box restorer. The compartment and also the inside of the lid, have beautiful new teal blue satin linings. The satin panels to both the base of the compartment and the inside of the lid, have been padded to provide protective cushioning for jewellery.

Our Skilled Box Restorer

You can read about Jim, our wonderful box restorer, by visiting our About Us page.

History Of Italian Sorrento Puzzle Boxes

These beautiful puzzle boxes with their secret locks and compartments were designed to securely store valuable pieces of jewellery and private documents etc. Puzzle boxes are still made today and are produced in many countries, but these modern versions are rarely as beautiful or as well made.

This particular puzzle box may have been made as a souvenir for Italy's tourist market.

An information sheet with further details on the history of Italian puzzle boxes will be sent along with the box. This includes detailed instructions on how to access the secret lock and compartment. It is important to read these instructions very carefully before accessing the lock and secret compartment.

* Failure to correctly access the lock/compartment could cause serious damage to the box. We are not responsible for any such damage and we will need to charge a fee for any necessary repairs.


Circa 1920s/1930s.


This wonderful box is in very good condition despite its 90/100 years of age.

The box has sound structure and all of its inlay is still present and secure.

The interior linings, being new, are in immaculate clean, unused condition.

The hinges are still in good working order and the box locks securely.


There are a few old repairs to this box - to the hinge areas, bottom right rear corner and the right underside edge of the bottom horizontal book.

There is a slight age-related warp to the right front of the lid which is not overly noticeable. Please ensure the lid is fully seated on this side before locking/unlocking the box. It is sometimes necessary to apply a little downward pressure on the lid, as you lock/unlock the box. Please apply this gently, never forcefully.

Notes About Old Locks

We would like to make you aware that vintage/antique locks can occasionally malfunction. They are already old and so will naturally have some wear from age and use.

We are not responsible for locks that malfunction from further age and use once boxes are purchased. Please ensure the lock is still working as soon as you receive your box. It will be checked again prior to posting.

You can view our full returns policy which includes locks by visiting our Payments And Returns page.


Please use the following measurements to ensure the box is the right size for your requirements.

Length:   25.0cm
Width:     17.3cm
Height:    11.6cm

Interior Compartment:

22.1 by 14.0cm with a 5.5cm depth.


This box will be posted FREE within the UK by Royal Mail Next Day Special Delivery.

International postage is £25 by Royal Mail International Tracked and/or Signed For postage. Delivery is fast, within 3-5 working days to Europe and 5-7 working days to the rest of the world. Delivery may be longer depending on the speed of your local postal service and/or if your parcel has to go through customs. Please note that we cannot deliver to international PO boxes as we use a secure insured postal service that requires a signature.

Customs and VAT fees

International customers are responsible for paying any applicable customs duties, customs clearance/handling fees and/or VAT. These fees are NOT included in the prices of our boxes or our postage fees.

Please visit our Orders & Delivery page for further details.

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