Antique Boxes at the Sign of the Hygra
2 Middleton Road, London, E8 4BL, UK.
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 thumbnail index of tea caddies and chests

Request current  list of available Jewelry boxes.

Request current  list of available tea caddies.

Request current  list of available writing boxes.



tea caddies




Tea and Opium


Hygra: Antique sewing box by Mechi 

Hygra: Antique Rosewood Dressing/jewelry box by Joseph Mechi London circa 1875

Hygra: A Very Fine Writing Box Veneered with Rosewood and Inlaid with metal and mother of pearl by J. J. Mechi historic maker of London Circa 1850.



Opening a  Bramah lock on a box.

The Bramah lock gave a new level of security to boxes. The presence of a Bramah lock, which were complicated to manufacture, is almost a sure sign that the box with it was intended for the quality end of the market.  

The slotted key is pushed into the lock bringing a series of  sprung slotted sliders sliders  to the correct height to enable the key to be turned. 

If you have never tried to open a Bramah lock it is a good Idea to first try the mechanism with the box open. 

Please click on images to enlarge

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End view of the key. The slots will match the heights of the sliders. 

This lock has 5 sliders.  Box locks usually have four or five sliders. 

When the sliders have been brought  the correct height the key will be able to turn.


Bramah Lock circa 1819   Enlarge Picture

 The Bramah lock is immediately recognizable  from the outside.

Only the central circular escutcheon will be visible when the  box is closed. 



Inside the the lock there is a  a cylinder which can be turned  when the sliders are brought to the correct height.
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The slider  are made of a piece of steel folded over. Here the slider is in the locked position

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The spring is quite strong. 

The key should not turn until  it has been pushed into the lock.

It needs firm pressure to push it into the lock. 

Bramah Lock circa 1819 Enlarge Picture

This is the dismantled locking mechanism  the main  lock from an Important brassbound Figured Rosewood writing box with matched Bramah locks Circa 1819.

See  also:  Antique Bramah Locks ;

All text and images and linked images are 1999-2011 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly. If you require any further information on permitted use, or a licence to republish any material, email us at