Antique Jewellery Box With Secret Lock And Compartment

( JB349 )

Beautiful antique Italian jewellery box with a secret lock & compartment. Hand painted flowers & Swallows and in the form of books. Refurbished interior.

Antique Jewellery Box With Secret Lock And Compartment

PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A SIMILAR BOX.  We will endeavour to source one for you!

FREE UK DELIVERY + £10 OFF YOUR 1ST ORDER.  Enter code NCD10 at checkout.

This is a fabulous high quality antique jewellery box, made in Italy and dating to 1880/1890.

The Exterior

This box is made of solid Olive Wood, details of which are given below.  This has attractive figuration and a wonderful warm rich colour.

The box is in the form of books.  There are two books horizontally placed at the top and bottom, and a volume of upright books in between.  These are numbered in hand painted Roman Numerals.

There is also beautiful hand painted detail to the horizontally placed books.  There are flowers and 'Souvenir' painted onto the top book, and leafy Olive sprigs painted onto the bottom book.

The lid has a large inlaid Butterfly, plus two inlaid Swallows holding Olive sprigs in their beaks.
The inlay is made up of various woods and the bottom of the Butterfly's wings have vibrant hand painted highlights.  The inlay is of a very high quality and is absolutely stunning!

There is a secret lock hidden behind the upright row of books, and a secret compartment within the bottom horizontally placed book.  The secret compartment is shallow and ideal for private letters and photos, or money etc.  Instructions (with photos) on how to access the secret lock and compartment will be sent along with the box.

The box is complete with its original brass hinges.  These are quality 'stop' hinges which prevent the lid from falling back.  It is also complete with its original brass lock which is still in good working order.  There is an antique replacement key which locks the box securely.  The lock is a quality French lock which has a double locking mechanism.  Details of this are below.

The French Lock

This beautiful box has a wonderful French 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.

Butterfly Symbolism

The Butterfly on this box was most likely added as a form of symbolism.  The Butterfly represents life, endurance, change and hope.  Many cultures associate this beautiful insect with our souls, and as a symbol of resurrection.

Swallow Symbolism

The swallows on this box were also likely added as a form of symbolism.  The swallow has long been representative of the safe journey home of a loved one.  It is possible that the Olive sprigs are representative of a peace offering.

The Interior

The interior a single storage compartment (plus the secret compartment mentioned above).  This main compartment has been beautifully refurbished by our skilled box restorer.  It has a new padded satin panel in the base and new satin linings to the walls.  The inside of the lid has new satin linings also.  The satin is a beautiful Turquoise blue colour which has not been captured in the photos.

Our Skilled Box Restorer

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

About Olive Wood

Olive wood 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.

Olive wood is also favoured for its hardness.  It is a strong durable wood with a fairly high density, and 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.


This wonderful box is in excellent condition for its 120/130 years of age.  

All of the inlay is present and intact, and the hand painted highlights are still lovely and vibrant.

The box is of sound structure and there is very little wear to the Olive wood.

There is one small hairline crack on the left hand side of the lid (see image 2).  This is not unsightly as it blends in with the figuration, and it does not affect the sound structure of the box.

The interior linings, being new, are in excellent clean and undamaged condition.

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


These beautiful 'Puzzle' boxes with their secret locks (double locking locks) and compartments were designed to securely store ones most valuable pieces of jewellery and private documents etc.  Puzzle boxes are still made today but modern versions are rarely as beautiful or well made.

This particular box was a souvenir, made for the tourist market.

Notes About Antique Locks

We would like to make you aware that antique locks can suddenly malfunction at any time.
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 working as soon as you receive your box.

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:  23.3cm
Width:   12.8cm
Height:  11.0cm

Interior Compartment:

19.6 by 9.2cm with a 4.6cm depth.


The box will be posted FREE within the UK by Next Day Special Delivery.

International postage is £25 by Royal Mail International Signed For post.  Delivery is fast, within 3-5 working days to Europe and 5-7 working days to the rest of the world.

For Vintage & Antique Jewellery, please visit our sister site via the links below.

Enjoy £10 off your 1st order plus free next day delivery within the UK. Valid for both single and multiple purchases.

The Antique Jewellery Shop

Victorian Jewellery

Art Deco Jewellery

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