You are here:

Antique Safes/Great-Grandad's Safe


el wrote at 2015-04-22 17:47:06
Are you kidding me? The original paint is everything. Antique collectors pay for the patina and the fact that it looks vintage. The condition of the paint in that picture is excellent for something that age and it is a beautiful piece. You would never be able to recreate the look or paint that intricate image in the center. If you were to strip the paint you would ruin the value. I can't believe anyone would tell give such bad advice about antiques. Never refinish an antique unless there is no absolutely no paint left.

Andy wrote at 2015-05-03 20:59:44

While I agree with your statement about the original paint being important, you are making assumptions concerning the actual condition of the paint, and the amount of rust present.   Safes are not paintings, in as much as the canvas is made of steel.   If not prepared correctly PRIOR to the painting, the pervasive rust WILL get under the paint, making exceedingly difficult to preserve or restore.

My restoration goals are ALWAYS to preserve as much of the original paint as possible, however there are several unique problems that present themselves - first being the number of restoration artist available in the entire country - which are about 5.   Secondly & problem most important is the condition of the item.   In most cases the surface of a safe that has been in use for over 100 years is extremely damaged and may have been painted over several times.

Unfortunately while it easy for you to play armchair quarterback to criticize someone who is trying to save or restore some antique items, you haven't actually offered any real solutions for owners of old safes.

Also, you show your ignorance by indicating that collectors pay for "Patina", when you don't even know what it is.

Patina is the oxidation of silver, brass, bronze and copper, and is that greenish layer that is seen.   While this oxidation may be desirable in statues or copper clad roofs of older buildings, oxidation in any form is NOT desirable.   The rust that forms on steel safes is NOT "PATINA", it is simply rust.

Antique Safes

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 44 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes". Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf

Safecrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2015 Listed in AllExperts top 50 Experts. All Experts Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

Past/Present Clients
US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service area is Northern California - Fresno to Oregon, including western Nevada

©2017 All rights reserved.