Italian Antique Puzzle Jewellery Box With Secret Lock And Compartment

( JB489 )
SOLD ~ Please contact us if you are looking for a similar box and we will endeavour to source one for you!

Beautiful Italian antique puzzle jewellery box. Secret high-quality Continental lock & secret compartment. Fully refurbished interior. Made in Sorrento.

Italian Antique Puzzle Jewellery Box With Secret Lock And Compartment

  FREE UK NEXT DAY DELIVERY. We Ship Worldwide. 

This is a wonderful high-quality antique jewellery box. It was made in Sorrento, in Southern Italy, and it dates to the late 19th/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.

The Exterior

This box is made of solid Olivewood, details of which are given below. The Olivewood has a lovely 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 hand-painted details to the top and bottom books.

The lid has beautiful decoration. It has an inlaid mandolin amongst foliage and a beautiful inlaid Swallow in flight. These are surrounded by a beautifully inlaid, tesselated micro mosaic frame. Details of this can be found below.

The front of the lid has the Italian word 'RICORDO' in a hand-painted stylish font. This translates to 'Memory/I Remember'. This is a beautiful sentiment which complements the symbolism of the inlaid Swallow. The Swallow has long been representative of the safe journey home of a loved one.

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. Instructions on how to access the secret lock and compartment will be sent along with the box.

The Micro Mosaic Tesselated Inlay

This type of inlay is skilfully created with hundreds 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.

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 storage compartment which has been beautifully refurbished by our skilled box restorer. The compartment and also the inside of the lid, have beautiful new Raspberry red satin linings. The satin to the base of the compartment has been padded to provide a protective soft cushion for jewellery.

Our Skilled Box Restorer

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

History Of 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 but these modern versions are rarely as beautiful or well made.

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


This wonderful box is in excellent condition despite its 100 plus years of age. It has sound structure and all of the inlay is still present.

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 is some minor gapping between the 'spines' and 'covers' of the top and bottom books, at the ends only. This is not damage. The gapping has occurred very gradually over the years and is due to the natural shrinkage of the wood. Very humid environments will attract moisture to the box which could cause further shrinkage over time. Keeping the box in a moderate climate will prevent this from occurring.

Notes About Antique Locks

We would like to make you aware that antique locks can occasionally malfunction. They are already very old and 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:   23.5cm
Width:     12.3cm
Height:    11.0cm

Interior Compartment:

21.7 by 9.7cm with a 4.5cm depth.


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

International postage is £20 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.

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