WICKWAR & CO 6 POLAND STREET MANUFACTURERS TO HM STATIONERY OFFICE
A Black Leather covered Despatch Box C 1880 with rear brass swing handle, the top stamped with the Royal Cypher of Queen Victoria, and with the words 'War Office' below, the front with a pair of smaller cyphers flanking a brass diamond shaped escutcheon, the interior with raised sides and locating pins giving rigidity. A label inside the lid reads 'Colonel S.G. Partridge C.M.G. C.B.E.'*
38.5 x 25.5 x 12.5
The box is fitted with a Davis patent lock. The key is highly individual, needing directions to work the lock.
George Davis of Windsor. Davis invented and patented, in 1799, a double chambered lock which was used on government dispatch boxes and other ministerial uses of the time.
The patent, No. 2306 dated 11th April1799, describes it as "a double chambered lock with cylinders, to which pins are attached in different directions instead of wards." It also goes on to explain that the outer keyhole configuration would give no indication of the inner or second chamber keyhole.
In fact it seems likely that these locks were only used for government purposes, no examples have been so far found that were in general use.
*Colonel Sydney Partridge CMG, CBE, Legion d'Honneur, worked for the Secretariat in the War Office from 1901 to 1914 at the outbreak of The Great War. He later served in the War and was Mentioned in Despatches seven times.