SORRENTO "STACK OF BOOKS" PUZZLE BOXES

These boxes are amongst the most common antique puzzle boxes found. They were made in Sorrento in Italy from around 1860 to 1960s. Usually made of Olive wood the quality varies widely.

 

To open a locked box in good condition: -

  1. Slide the lower front spine to the left.
  2. Slide the lower right panel forward to open the base compartment.
  3. Tip the key out of the base.
  4. Slide the main body of the box forward over the base book.
  5. Lower the central spine to reveal the keyhole.
  6. Unlock the box with the key. (The lock is usually a typical cheap double throw lock and must the turned anti-clockwise twice.)
  7. Open the lid.

 

Click Here to see a selection of puzzle boxes from Sorrento

The earlier puzzle boxes made in the late 19th Century tend to be the better craftsmanship with fine inlay and tesselation work. Bluebirds became a recurring motif and the early bluebird were entirely inlaid whereas later ones were part inlaid with the white parts painted. The paint used was very inferior and has often rubbed off. Some later decoration was all paint and in the 1960s postcards under glass were used to decorate to the lids.

Some of the simple puzzle boxes just involve sliding the front panel about 5 cm. to unlock the lid.

It is a tribute to the original makers that the principle of the stack of books is even now being copied all round the world including Eastern Europe, India, & North Africa; however none of the modern ones match the quality of the antique ones from Sorrento.

 

 

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