Chatting with Forrest Fenn: His Old Puzzle Lock

closed-lock-frontMany of us, who are involved in The Thrill of the Chase, have had the opportunity to meet and chat with Forrest Fenn. The Chase began in 2010, and over the years, Forrest has participated in book signings, visited Fennborees, and met with numerous searchers.

He not only hid a million-dollar chest of gold and other rare jewels in a 1150AD bronze chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains (for anyone to find), he had made himself available to encourage the discovery of it, and was willing to give people time to get to know him and his other treasures better.

My family and I were so fortunate to get the chance to sit down with Forrest on our way back from a road trip (and search adventure) a while back. I talk about this time chatting with Forrest in the following posts and some others.

*Chatting with Forrest Fenn: His Office
*Chatting with Forrest Fenn: Medicine Rock

So much filled the afternoon. Forrest shared captivating stories on adventures he experienced. He also shared the history of the absolute incredible rare items and collectibles he had ‘chased’ after over his lifetime. I left there in complete awe and overflowing with a gratefulness for being able to spend some time with him. A treasure to keep in memory forever.

One of the coolest things, and there were so many, but this one was special. He shared with us this so totally awesome Puzzle Lock. Now I collect puzzles and games (I am slowly sharing my game collection of the 1800’s on blog), and so when Forrest heard about that, he said, let me show you something.

He’s got something special for everyone! 🙂

So he showed us an old Puzzle Lock he had, and I was so enchanted! It was extraordinary! And it came with a Skeleton Key used to open it no less (which I also collect skeleton keys)- You can imagine my extreme excitement! Oh I loved it…and want to share it with you today.

As the one image of the Lock states on back, it is a 16th century Chest Lock.

In order to open it there is a trick.

You must turn one of the little fleur-de-lis’ to open the door, and then put the Key in to open the lock.

Below are some more images of the amazing Lock, and then you can watch a short video we took while Forrest was actually showing us and sharing with us the little ‘puzzle’ used to open it!

A moment in time, as I said above, to remember and treasure! I appreciate the Chase and all the adventures so much. Thanks Forrest. And I hope you all enjoy it too.

forrest fenn thrill of the chase

forrest fenn treasureforrest fenn










(Please know I’m just having some fun with ‘video software’ in ATTEMPT to spruce up the video some..….lol.)




*And Please, if you would like, I would love to know in comments what you might collect. I love collections, and in my newsletter I will be sharing different stories about collections (among other things, like the 3Q’s). For me, our various collections are like treasures to us. To add to it, maybe with the one long sought for item needed, is such a joy. I might later message you, and ask if you minded if I learned more about it and feature your collection in an upcoming newsletter.

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75 Responses

  1. 5-leaf blaze says:

    Look at that. It has a copy of the key built into the back.

  2. Buckeye Bob says:

    That’s an amazing piece. Any idea where it came from or what it was used on?
    It has the same general look at the treasure chest, “Indulgence”.

    I’ve never gotten into collecting. My life didn’t lend to that sort of thing, and the kinds of things I wished to collect were above my pay grade anyways.
    But I did grab one thing. There was a house that was the home of a family that owned an old beer brewery from before prohibition. They had switched to making soda pop, but went under soon after and closed the doors. I don’t know what became of the family, but both the brewery and the house next door were vacant for many years. The brewery was a playground for me and my friends when I was young. It had a large secret room in the basement, the doorway hidden behind a tall cabinet that was on hinges. This was evidently used as part of the escaped slave routes going to Canada back in those years. Our area was a hub for the slave routes, with several well known hiding places scattered around.
    The only thing we found in there was an old leather shoe, but no one kept it.
    That brewery burnt down, so anything in there was lost forever. Not that there was anything besides that old shoe, we spent many hours playing in there and knew it well.

    The house stood until it was torn down around 1975 to make room for a parking lot. My dad worked for the company that owned the property, and they were allowed to go in and salvage whatever. Mostly wooden doors and frame moultings and the like. But I found an old box that had a bunch of letter in it. And I thought that was a terrible bit of local history to lose, so I took them.

    Over the years, I’ve mostly forgotten those letters. But once in a while, I looked at them. I checked out the postage stamps, but they were very common and worth maybe 2 cents.
    There were a few post cards, I never checked the collectors value on them. One of them was pretty cool though, it was a foldout sort from a very ritzy (at that time) hotel in Chicago. No idea on value.

    The letters themselves were like reading a story from a movie. Something along the lines of the rich people in that movie “Titanic”. They were mostly from one of the kids, in his twenties, traveling the world with his friends. It got a bit risque at times, lol. I’ve only read a few of the letter.

    I keep thinking that I need to dig those letters and post cards out and give them to our county historical museum. But I’d like to read some more of them first.

    • Jenny Kile says:

      To have played in a place with a secret room! Totally cool. I lived on a farm growing up, and we built hay forts and tunnels within the stacks….from the first cutting into the winter (until it was used), making hidden forts in the hay (with secret entrances) was my brothers and I thing to do! Oh I loved it. And sometimes we slept out there in the forts……

      What is it with ‘secret places’? we have to love them!

      But the box of letters and such…..that is just as awesome! Yes, pieces of the past….. treasures.

      thanks for sharing those stories… ~j

      • Buckeye Bob says:

        Ha, Jenny, those tunnels in the bales of hay were fun!
        I grew up in small cities, but my relatives were farmers and so was my best friend.
        We used to set traps where once a kid was inside and in the dark, you pulled up one bale and dropped one inside to seal them in, unexpected to them as they couldn’t find their way out and started to panic. What fun! We were a bit cruel like that, lol.

        I just found my stash of that old stuff. 7 business manila envelopes, 9×12’s, full of stuff. And it’s got more cool old fashions multi-layered post cards than I remembered. I’m going to spend some time on that.

        And yeah, a real life secret room. It was actually 2 large rooms, one after the other. It looked like dirt walls, but it might have been some form of old concrete that deteriorated over the years to resemble something like dirt. There was a small pass through from the second room into the brewery basement, high up in the wall just below the 10′ or 12′ ceiling (actually the main level floor). That was how we found the secret rooms, once we climbed up there to look into the darkness. Then we searched and found the secret doorway behind the tall cabinet on it’s hinges.
        It was like walking into the past, even though the only thing in it was that old shoe. The show had a large hole in the sole, I guess the owner left it behind after getting a new one. Funny since they come in pairs.
        But the feeling of being somewhere special like that, finding it when other people didn’t know it was there, where people sought their freedom in a different time, was special.
        We never told anyone about it, then the place burnt down. But it was so dilapidated that I doubt it could have been turned into a historical site. It was posted for no entrance “under penalty of law”…whatever that meant. Nothing to us kids, that’s for sure.

    • Mike W says:

      That’s such a cool story, and those letters are a kind of secret treasure 🙂 Your secret’s safe. Love it.

  3. Ramona says:

    That is really cool Jenny. I love it. Thanks for sharing with us. I’ve never seen anything like that lock and key. I’m totally blown away with Forrest and the items he has collected. While I’m completely amazed and love seeing items people collect, I collect nothing. So interesting. Thanks again.

  4. Lonnie Sheeley says:

    I collect custom made Turkey calls , and specialize in ones made in Pennsylvania . They are made from all kinds of materials, wood, stone, metal, turtle shells and slate, seashells, bamboo and cane ,plastic, and even the actual bones from the wing of a turkey itself .Regardless what the material used, they all have the same ending result, the sounds of a turkey yelping . I am making one now for Forrest from bones , to go with his collection of bone implements and utensils .I’ve been a Chase follower since His very first Today show interview .

  5. pdenver says:

    Hello Jenny. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. The lock is beautiful! The intricate design is most appealing. I have collected several things over the years. I collect stamps and coins. My most favorite is “The Night Before Christmas” books. It’s always been a tradition in my family that the story was read on Christmas Eve, just before going to bed and waiting for Santa’s arrival. I have done this for my children and now they do the same for theirs. I have handed down some of my books to them, so that I may keep the tradition alive. I’ve yet to collect one of the original books. I missed the opportunity many years ago because not having funds for it. To turn a delicate page would be a dream.

    • pdenver says:

      Gosh, I forgot something else. I have a small collection of old newspapers with very important headline news. At the moment, I cannot remember what they said, nor where they’re hidden. Maybe my cedar chest; not sure.

      • Buckeye Bob says:

        Yeah, I have a paper from the time of the Lindbergh kidnapping. A NY newspaper. The whole thing is interesting, including the old fashioned ads.

        • pdenver says:

          That’s a great one to have, Buckeye Bob. I wish I could remember the headlines that I own. I just checked my cedar chest and they’re not there. Perhaps I placed them in a bin in my shed, along with the many bins I hold my photos in.

  6. Freerange says:

    Cool story Jenny, how fascinating.
    Hand tools have been an abscission of mine for years. Using these tools is like shaking hands with the man who once used them. I have a set of wood planes once owned by a carpenter who repaired river boats in the early 18 hundreds. The dock is less than two miles from our home. We’re looking forward to a trip to Eric Sloane’s museum in Connecticut during the autumn foliage.

  7. Jenny Kile says:

    Oh my goodness all….I am loving hearing about your collections….such heart in them….I love them! Thanks so much for sharing them. Truly special!


  8. Sefic says:

    Photos & videos are the ultimate collectible. The images and sounds themselves are what’s important, as opposed to prints, so the internet is the ultimate collection specifically. And this demonstrates how Humanity is transitioning from material to ethereal collections. “on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

  9. Video is funny!
    Thanks Forrest and Jenny

  10. JL says:

    An absolutely awesome piece, it is like a mini flat piece of 3d history. The man on the right appears to be pointing towards something or maybe its a bit of misdirection from the secret between the two

  11. E* says:

    Jenny – Thank you for sharing your story, photos and video about the Puzzle Lock. I immediately thought of that great scene with the Meerschaum pipe,…in “National Treasure”:

    The Gates’ and Abigail vow to keep looking, but Riley points out that they are still trapped. Ben explains that the setup doesn’t make sense; builders would’ve cut a secondary entry shaft to protect against cave-ins during the construction. Ben sees several Freemason symbols engraved on another wall. One of them is a hollow carving resembling the Meerschaum pipe found aboard the Charlotte… ‘The Secret lies with Charlotte.’ Ben takes the pipe’s base apart from its bowl and inserts the bowl into the hollow; using the shaft as a handle. He then rotates the hollow; which opens another door.

  12. Friend says:

    I wonder if someone found the key to unlock the poem……

  13. Mike W says:

    Jenny – I love motorcycles, my collection tally so far numbers zero… ok make it one that is not likely to be a collectable. Recently I visited a small local car museum which has a fantastic collection of cars and enormous amounts of memorabilia stored there. I looked for a Bullet there but the closest things there to my eye were a ’34 Ford 40B V8 Coupe, and a ’39 Chevrolet Master 85 Deluxe Coupe. They would be worth a small fortune I would think. But honestly the part of the museum I loved the most, was a collection of small and oddball cars such as the early 1950’s Velocar Mochet Lux CM-125, 1980’s Bamby by Alan Evans of England, the 1958 BMW Isetta Motocoupe made in England under license, 1967 NSU Spider with a 500cc wankel rotary engine, 1950s’-1960’s Fiat 600 Multipla taxi van, and a 1959 Messerschmitt K200, amongst others. I took a few pictures if you’d like to see them. So – not my collection, but inspiring nonetheless.
    I really love motorcycles, and considering what I would want to own, I would love to collect, rare, old, unique, motorcycles. And thinking about it, they needn’t take up much room or even cost that much – scooters, I may have space for 10-20… makes me keen to start planning acquisitions!

  14. cynthia says:

    Thanks, Jenny, for sharing this story…I thought the video was good, too. The Puzzle Lock is really a neat thing to see as ff opens it. I collected expensive tequila for awhile…mostly for many of the unique bottles as well as some award winning tequilas. Now, I collect nothing… but I am slowly emptying those bottles…for when we downsize!

  15. 23kachinas says:

    Trickey, like magic.

  16. Lia says:

    WOW! Such an intricate, fascinating novelty. Thanks Forrest and Jenny, I’m anxious to watch the video tomorrow.

    Because Forrest’s stories opened my own sweet memories of picking up small river stones from the Gallatin River and Flathead Lake when I was young, I began collecting natural heart shaped stones found on my search trips. Completely free and such a treasure when you find one. Even the guys in my family now help me search for heart stones to place in my “heart garden.”

  17. 23kachinas says:

    Confirmed accurate price by Forrest: CYE4 = $3,500 for Saraswati

    If the first letter the numeric value in the alphabet then C=3, then again the second Y is a comma and E=5 in it’s order of the alphabet. Is the last number 4 how many numbers there are in the total price?

    So guessing at these…If 5 number prices DO NOT have commas prices might be as follows…
    OE5 = $15,500 Key puzzle
    CE5= $35,000 Bronze chest

    Any other ideas about the pricing codes?

    • Anna says:

      23 kachinas, interesting info on costs. This would have been a very costly novelty that only royal houses could afford in 1500’s. Did Forrest mention the lock was Spanish? Not certain, but I would have guessed French origin with the fleur de lis and possibly reliefs of 2 patron saints. The 16th century was a time when the French kings of Bourbon were united with the Spanish King of Navarre. Just a guess.

    • Mike W says:

      I see what you’re on about… You’ve got sharp eyes 🙂

  18. Anna says:

    So cool Forrest! I would love to hear you tell the story of where you found your puzzle lock and its provenance. Jenny, you are quite fortunate to have spent time with Forrest and enjoyed seeing his collections.

    If I could afford to collect any “thing” it would be antique jewelry. What I can afford are vintage Mille Fiori paperweights from Scottland and the US. My favorite collection is my friends…in that, I have the very finest.

    I’m enjoying this thread. Thanks Jenny and Forrest.

  19. astree says:

    That’s just incredible. The amount of detail and labor that went into crafting the lock and key. The figures of the two men standing on either side of the keyhole, intriguing.

    I probably need to wake up a bit more and look again, but how does it lock a chest lid? I see (from the back view) how it bolts to the chest, but where does the lid clasp fit, how is it released when it is unlocked?

    Thanks Jenny and Forrest.

    • astree says:

      OK, it looks like the rectangular piece coming down from top center is the clasp, we just never see it open.

      I need to get one of those locks for my girls’ school locker. That lock’s as big as the chest was Indulgence.

  20. DPT says:

    Very interesting story. Thanks Jenny and Forrest.

    The things I find most interesting is that Forrest like to collect things that are unique. Unique is one of a kind, single, sole, only one, alone.

    I also find the fluer de lis interesting because it represents the Virgin Mary. Iris and Lily. Interesting too because the second guy in the map on page 99 when turned upside down is carrying the Virgin Mary:-)

  21. Diggin gypsy says:

    You have a good eye DpT Hope your not right on my heels ,,,,,, jenny did Forrest know you was posting this ?

  22. Onuat says:

    That is one beautiful puzzle lock. So intricately carved by loving hands. I wonder if it was made for a Bishop or some kind of High priest. Is it made of brass?
    My parents have one on their 100+ year old wooden trunk but not as intricate as this one. Theirs also has a fluer de lis latch but comes with a padlock and a skeleton key.I remember how it was a good place to hid in when we were kids,playing hid and seek.
    Beautiful piece,Forrest. Thanks for sharing and stirring old memories,Jenny.

    • decall says:

      That is for sure some form of iron. To me it looks like mostly cast pieces.. my brothers are experts in forged steel. The back pieces look forged and hammered. I also see file work on the back. Lines that stop before the edge were probably done with a chisel. Lines that continue to the edges were probably with a file. Parts of the key were filed, and some of it cast. Since a working model must have been wood or steel, this was probably duplicated…. but couldn’t have been too many made. If it was a one of a kind, you’d probably see SMOOTHER lines in the grooves from hammering. Pitting on the back and flat areas is probably expected.

  23. Strawshadow says:

    Thank you Jenny and Mr. Fenn,
    This intricate lock and key can only be described as a labor of love. The thought and patience involved must have taken eons of time to create by a true master. My simple collection of red dots seems inferior in comparison, blurred by time and space, they still represent a portion of my heart and soul, much like yours only different. Simple in nature yet complex in emotion, thank you again for sharing much more than a simple observation of mechanical artistry.

  24. WiseOne says:

    It’s fun seeing the things Forrest collects. Obviously it’s his passion. The love of finding unique/one of a kind items are difficult to find, but Forrest certainly seems to have a knack for it.
    I really like how the little fleur-de-lis’ (European Iris) inconspicuously is the trigger for opening the door where the key goes in… Very clever for a piece of that age, I would imagine. Thank you Jenny and Forrest for showing us another piece of history.

    • Buckeye Bob says:

      WiseOne, people were pretty ingenious going way back. Look at the Pyramids, and the way they sealed the doors. And the ancient temple doors in India had some very clever ways of locking them too.

  25. Carolyn says:

    Jenny, I collect rocks, feathers and some old books. Thanks for your site.

  26. JL says:

    What do you get if you cross a rusty fleur-de-lis’ with a blue fleur-de-lis’ ?

  27. MS girl says:

    Hi Jenny all of this is awesome. Might Forrest be telling us all that we need a Key to his map and it is hidden and marked!! I collect George and Martha Washington figurines and have a pair of Lamps, one of George and one of Martha; that I found in thrift stores and different places! Our house is 101 years old and my sitting living room has the figurines done on end tables and such I have the old wall paper and to me things done in that era. I do not know why I started collecting those figurines but they just beckon to me! The lamps are my prize items I have not added to my collection in a while and my husband loves that but I have gone and asked certain dealers if they have any pieces from that era. Thanks Jenny and Forrest I am a pack rat and collector and it is another quest I am on to find more things found that remind me of that era. I still need to find the perfect lamp shades for George and Martha but they are out there somewhere. Please keep us thinking searching and questioning Jenny. Sincerely, Ms. Girl

  28. ROLL TIDE says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I collect lots of things so, where to start . . .
    Skeleton keys, locks, old bottles, early-Americana hand tools, old car emblems, hubcaps, Viet-Nam-era newspapers, toys, games, puzzles, early house furnishings ( I have an armoire from the 1700’s that I picked up from a yard sale for $60, the guy apparently didn’t know what he had. It was manufactured in England and the company is still in business so, the fellow over there authenticated it for me ), marbles . . . the list is endless.
    I also just pick things up off the ground, when I’m out and about, that have been discarded ( a heel from an old boot that some poor soul lost, an old woman’s shoe- one of those old black-and-white lace-ups) I collect odd-looking pieces of wood, gosh, I would just have to go look at what all I collect!
    People call me a hoarder and a junk-collector . . .
    Bought a house that was built in 1930, arched doorways, hardwood floors, vintage wallpaper . . .
    (came with an Indian grave yard, seventeen graves back there, only six of which are marked, all kids who died in the smallpox epidemic back in the early 1900’s. One of those is an eleven-year-old girl who, after much research, turned out to be the granddaughter of a local Chief from the era).
    The Indian Nation didn’t even know there was a graveyard here until I contacted them. It was hidden very well in the growth.
    The oldest marked grave is of a fellow named PaHa, he was twenty-three, if I recall correctly. A big oak tree has grown up through his right leg.
    To sum it up, I guess I collect the forgotten leftovers of history.

    • ROLL TIDE says:

      Correction : Should have said “the oldest person in a marked grave”, as some of the marked graves are dated late-1800’s.
      Indian Nation also said the unmarked ones could possibly be graves of those who followed the Trail-of-Tears.

  29. ColoradoK9 says:

    Hello all, I collect arrowheads and native American artifacts but only ones I find. NO BUYING THEM! I am new to this site, but I have been reading posts for 2 years about the Fenn treasure hunt.

  30. Pen Ghost says:

    Being so far away and having Internet issues, I had not seen this post. I still cannot view videos due to Internet restrictions 🙁 I loved playing with those type of puzzles when I was very young with my grandfather. I collected things over time, but now I only collect memories and some pictures to jog my memory.

    • passenger says:

      I’m also a fan of thought puzzles. The brain is mysterious to me. I’d be interested to know how one’s memories, thinking and knowledge are planted within the cerebral cortex. Neuroscience is in its infancy.. so I guess only time will tell.

    • JC1117 says:

      Hello, Pen Ghost…Et Al.

      Memories. It is interesting how a picture…or a sound…or a smell…or a feeling…can jog a memory.

      Music does that to me all the time. Just the word “memory” makes me think of Vangelis’ songs Memories of Green…and Blue…

      Which brought my mind to this one…

      • Point Foot says:

        That is soothing to the soul.

        One thing I learned today is psyche was the Ancient Greek word for “Butterfly.”

        I am fascinated by the different tangents in life, the places they lead and how they sometimes intersect.

      • Point Foot says:

        That made me think about “Time to die.”

        I hope there is a little more time…

      • passenger says:

        JC117 “Music does that to me all the time” I agree with this…. although I’m not exactly sure how it applies to my life . I do need to learn how to manage excess and where to draw the line. I simply need to know how to put down the drink. — It is tough but I have learned that AA is a valid resource.

        • JC1117 says:

          That’s not an easy thing to do, Paasenger.

          All efforts to keep your head clear are commendable.

          A good support group…with loving friends who have overcome similar challenges…and those working through the same challenges is invaluable.

          Being surrounded by love…and those who know the “tricks of the trade” is where I always long to be.

          Ultimately…Perseverance and Determination rule the day.

  31. Point Foot says:

    Me too. I love puzzle locks. Old ones are all the more fascinating to me. The brain is definitely interesting and puzzling. Lately I have been reading all about scientific studies connecting the gut to the brain. I am amazed at all that is being explored and discovered. Time has a way of allowing things to come to light eventually. We just have to be willing to wait. 🙂

  32. Jeff Street says:

    wwwh = birth

  33. SL says:

    “X” could be Christ; or what appears to be formed, (with the help of a shadow), at the end of the staff on the cover of Too Far to Walk.

    “Keep looking.”


  34. Jeff Street says:

    Blaze = Enlightenment

  35. Buckeye Bob says:

    Ha ha, Forrest, I just got this after looking closely at the pictures.
    That’s funny!
    (I made notes for future use, if the treasure is ever found.)

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