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Puzzle Boxes

A puzzle box is a box that can only be opened by solving a puzzle. Many puzzle boxes may look simplistic on the outside. That is their attraction. But for many of them you'll need to open your mind to a realm of possibilities to find the moves or the mechanism that can open the box.

We've got puzzle boxes with many levels of difficulty from a single simple move (simple once you've found it that is!) to the most difficult sequential discovery puzzle boxes that require many moves, including the use of tools, to open.

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  1. Trick Wooden Puzzle Box Small

    Trick Wooden Puzzle Box - small wooden crate

    The puzzle is to open the puzzle box. Great for hiding a small gift inside to add an extra level of frustration for the recipient. Learn More
  2. Dice Chinese puzzle box

    The Dice Chinese puzzle box

    Solving this one could be about as hard as rolling a 6 every time! There are 29 moves to open it. Learn More
  3. Heart trick opening box

    Companion Box with heart decoration trick opening puzzle box

    The puzzle is to open the Companion box. It's one of those puzzles that once you've worked it out it's easy to remember. But very few people do work it out without being shown the mechanism. Learn More
  4. Secret Opening Chinese Puzzle Box – Plum Blossu

    Secret Opening Chinese Puzzle Box – Plum Blossom

    There’s a small drawer and two other compartments to find before you can say that you’ve solved this Chinese puzzle box. We even give you a tool to help solve it!

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  5. Mystery wooden puzzle box

    Mystery wooden puzzle box - crate style

    The puzzle is to open the puzzle box. Great for hiding a small gift inside to add an extra level of frustration for the recipient.

    Note: The photo with the box open and the gift card inside has been digitally altered to ensure we don't give away the solution to the puzzle. It is just to give you an idea that a standard card will fit inside the puzzle but only just... it's a tight fit and needs to go in on a slight angle.

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  6. Carribean Pirate Puzzle Box

    Caribbean Pirate Treasure Puzzle Box

    Aye! me Hearties. A great place to hide your stash of Pieces of Eight! The Pirates have drawn the treasure map on the lid of the puzzle box.  But we all know that pirates don't usually give up the secrets of where their treasure is buried. So what other tricks could there be to open the puzzle box? Will there be some treasure inside?

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  7. 5 Sun 12 + 1 Step Panda and Crane pattern Puzzle Box

    5 Sun 12 + 1 Step Panda and Crane pattern Puzzle Box

    This puzzle box from Japan has the classic Japanese crane on one side and the cutest panda on the other side, all done in amazing wood inlay. Learn More
  8. MiniPunk puzzle box assembly kit

    MiniPunk do it yourself puzzle money box

    Build your own puzzle box. A great DIY project and still a puzzle to complete once you're done! Learn More
  9. Silver City 144 piece puzzle box assembly kit

    Silver City 144 piece puzzle box assembly kit

    The Silver City secret opening puzzle box comes in kit form for you to have the pleasure of building your own puzzle box and then solving it. Learn More
  10. Silver City Luxe version Puzzle Box Assembly Ki

    Silver City Luxe version Puzzle Box Assembly Kit

    The Silver City secret opening puzzle box comes in kit form for you to have the pleasure of building your own puzzle box and then solving it. Learn More

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Puzzle Boxes have really grown in popularity in the past 30 years so that now they are one of the most collected genres of puzzles around. And yet puzzle boxes have been around for centuries with long and separate histories of development in Japan and throughout Europe.

Most well known is the Japanese Secret box. Called himitsu-bako, they are intriguing and with their mosaic style of decorative woodwork they have been popular souvenirs for the tourists visiting the Hakone region of Japan for over 200 years.

Less famous, at least outside of some dedicated puzzle collectors, are those puzzle boxes developed in the early 1900's in the UK and Europe.

Also made as souvenirs for tourists in Sorrento and Naples in Italy were beautifully decorated wooden puzzle boxes in the style of a stack of books. Usually with a hidden key the puzzler had to find the secret panels that might hide the keyhole. Usually used as jewellery boxes. They were first made in the 1860's and continued to be made right up until the early 1960's.

In 1893 Professor Hoffman wrote a book which illustrated and described hundreds of mechanical puzzles. Included in that book was a puzzle called the Psycho Match-Box. It was made and sold by A.W.Gamage of London Limited in what they called their Magical Department and the challenge was to see if you could open it and get to the matches and the striker.

Its generally accepted that many of these secret opening boxes had their origins, or the idea may have come from, furniture designs that date even earlier than these first puzzles.

Fine furniture like the mechanical desk produced by Alfred Emmanuel Louis Beurdeley, a cabinetmaker from Paris, in the late 1880's built on an already strong tradition started more than 100 years before by Jean-Francois Oeben.  The table appears to have a single center drawer but really has 3 hidden drawers disguised could definitely be considered as a puzzle box.

Another example of functional furniture that had hidden compartments used to securely store items were the Military Campaign boxes of the 1800s. Out in the field high ranking officers could hide valuables in secret drawers that needed knowledge of the secret mechanisms to open them, all under the disguise of a normal writing slope.

In India the Damchiya is a traditional dowry or blanket box. But more commonly, and possibly more accurately, these chests got the name Smugglers Chest because they contain hidden compartments that can only be opened by means of concealed mechanisms. If Government Tax Officials, Police or anyone you wished to deceive, opened the chest they would find only blankets and clothing stored in the largest and most obvious compartment. Only if the contents were taken out and the chest given very close scrutiny would they be able to detect other compartments for secreting valuables or contraband. Also a very useful ploy in communal living for keeping your special belongings to yourself.

So you can see there are many inspirations in history for modern puzzle box makers to draw from.

The main reason for the wave of interest in puzzle boxes since the 1980's is probably down to three men.   Akio Kamei in Japan, Trevor Wood in England, and Frank Chambers in Ireland.

Akio Kamei is an undisputed master of exquisite fine woodworking, and making puzzles with clever new ways of locking and unlocking them. He's known for his amazing themed designs so that the puzzle box represents a theme that might lead you to the solution if you think about it hard enough. Since he started his career in 1972 he's built up a worldwide following where people eagerly await each new design and they sell out very fast.

Trevor Wood was never a full time puzzlemaker. He made puzzles as a part-time hobby from 1986 but no longer does so. But his name has become synonymous with amazing puzzle boxes and other puzzles which because of the limited supply demand prices at auction of many hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Some of the mechanisms he designed into opening his puzzle boxes truly meant you needed to understand some principles of physics to open them!

Sadly Frank Chambers passed away in 2007. His take on puzzle box design was quite different to others. His medium was not wood but rather stone or brass. The puzzle boxes he made were small, elegant, with mechanisms that have confounded many a very experienced puzzler. Some people have had his designs in their collection for years and never been able to open them!

On our website we have a wide variety of puzzle boxes from countries across the globe.  Choose from traditional Japanese Trick opening puzzle boxes or tricky little Chinese mystery boxes, even a secret opening wooden box especially designed to hold money or tickets. Often called Chinese puzzle boxes, Oriental puzzles boxes or even Asian puzzle boxes, in reality what we instantly recognise as a puzzle box is actually a Japanese puzzle box. We have a full range of these and also other trick or secret opening boxes. Use them to hide a secret, present a gift with an extra challenge, or just for the fun of trying of open them. Also a high quality range of mystery opening money boxes reflecting their precision German design.

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