The Jap Box ( or Japanese Box or Silk Production Box ) is a magic prop of Japanese origin, which showed up in the west in the 1870s. It is a square container with no top or bottom that fits on a small tray (with a finger hole to hold the box in place) in which items, usually silks, are produced or vanished.
The term "Jap Box" can be seen in an ad in the very first issue of the Sphinx (March 1902, page 8) although no description of the box was provided.
Donald Bevan, a retired editor of Abracadabra magazine and Eddie Dawes, a magical historian, research concluded that the box was originally made in metal and came from Germany. The models that were produced in those early days were finished in 'Japanned Lacquer', an artificial imitation of Oriental Lacquer.
Glenn Gravatt, in his book "Jap Box Tricks" was of the opinion that the box was designed to simulate traditional Japanese rice boxes.
Ton Onosaka said that it based upon stackable boxes for steaming rice. Hence the reason for the interchangeable top or bottom. Originally the lid was 'lipped' on both sides so that several boxes could be stacked.