In the old days people didn’t have all the security items we have today. Even though safes had been invented in 13th BC in Egypt, most regular folks around the world would have never had access to anything like a true safe up until recently. But, for those of means the more common way to safeguard your items was in lock boxes. Small, wooden lock boxes were used to keep things like tea, spices, and precious coffee safe from thieves. But, gold bullion, family heirlooms, deeds, and fine jewelry all might need much bigger spaces to be tucked away in. If you had the money the ideal situation would be to have a strongbox custom-built to your specifications, which is what one wealthy Italian did in the late 17th century.
This huge piece is made from iron and bejeweled with handmade rivets all over the outer casing. Presumably the rivets are to hold multiple layers of iron together to create an impenetrable structure. But, the rivets also help to disguise an integral feature of the lock.
To unlock the strongbox one needs 3 tools: an angled pick, a large key, and a small key. The pick is inserted into what looks like one of the decorative central medallions, and it is actually the mechanism that opens the first keyhole. From a distance the medallions almost blend into the rivets visually.
The second keyhole is at the bottom and is also concealed until opened with the pick. Once inside the worn shelves are simply made of wood, as if this were the inside of someone’s wardrobe instead of a giant lockbox.
Everything about this piece is beautifully-made- including the locks on the inside of the door which are exposed once it’s opened. The door and other elements of the box are made from wood and then covered in iron sheets on the outside.