This cloth covered steel bound pine casket has suffered over the centuries; however it is of great puzzle interest as it incorporates an alarm, tricks, and puzzles.

It measures 410 x 285 x 180 mm. The outside appears to be an authentic 17th Century or earlier steel-bound cloth covered wooden casket. On the back of the casket there are two dummy keyhole covers. On the front there are two keyholes with swivelling covers and a locked central drop down cover.

At some time in the 20th Century the interior has been extensively "restored", presumably to make it more saleable, and it has been lined with a printed linen cloth. However the panel behind the locks has been intelligently constructed of balsa wood covered in the same fabric. This makes it easy to remove to reveal the surviving parts of the locking mechanism.

The right hand lock when turned anti-clockwise just 1/8th of a turn releases the central keyhole cover, which hinges down forwards revealing the central keyhole. However if the key is turned any more than 1/8th of a turn the keyhole is instantly covered again by a metal panel which springs down behind the keyhole.

This panel has a painting on it, sadly rather scratched, which shows a sleeping Cupid lying asleep on a Lion skin with Hercules' quiver of arrows neaby.
The key must now be turned clockwise a quarter turn to lift the painted panel out of the way again.

With the inside front panel removed, one can see much of the surviving mechanism. Almost certainly there would originally have been a lock in the centre connecting across to the left, sadly this is missing and now the left lock operates on its own.

The left key can be turned either way. It has four positions and as the key moves the mechanism it rings a loud alarm bell. When set correctly, the key must be turned to the midpoint between just one of the four positions to unlock the box.


A web search for "Cupid and Lion skin" will reveal the background of this once well known story.


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