We really know very little about these boxes. From where we sit, at the beginning of
the 21st century, they look "old", but that is very difficult to quantify.
We have found four dated examples of work of this genre, and present them here. With these examples in mind, we feel comfortable claiming that these boxes were made between 1915 and 1952. We would certainly welcome pictures of any other dated boxes or any other kind of information which would help us to come to a greater understanding of the time span during which these boxes were produced.
1915 - Panama-Pacific International Exhibition
Although it is not a box and has no lathe chatter, the dish was clearly turned on a lathe, and contains the line carving techniques found on the boxes of this genre. The bottom of the dish contains a partial label which is almost gone, but which probably said "Made in Japan".
1928 - Newspaper in Coaster Set
The coaster set above came to us with a piece of newspaper in the box. The date on the newspaper is Showa 3, which represents the third year of the reign of the emperor Hirohito, or 1928. Of course, this is not conclusive and we can imagine scenarios where the box may be either younger or older than the date on the newspaper. However, in the absence of better evidence, we prefer to accept this date at face value.
1934 - Century of Progress Exposition
The Century of Progress Exposition was held in Chicago from 1933 through 1934. It was commonly called a Worlds Fair. The trinket box pictured above was a souvenir of this event. The inscription "Worlds Fair 1934" is engraved under the lid.
1945-1952 - Occupied Japan
World War II ended for Japan in 1945. The occupation by American troops lasted until 1952. During the period from 1945 through 1952, items manufactured in Japan were marked "Made in Occupied Japan".