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1852 Farrels and Herring safe
1852 Farrels and Herri  
Restoring this safe and would like to know what the value would be after restoration and what should be dark green, front door panels and door jambs were green, seen original color during the stripping process. The question I have are all inserts green and was the finish a gloss finish or semi gloss when new. I have many photos of this restoration and glad to send more.



First a couple problems with your description as an "1852 Farrels & Herring" safe.

The 1852 date is a PATENT date, and NOT a manufactures date.   This date refers to a patent that Silas Herring received for a new type of insulation material.   Prior to this date he was building safes under the older "Wilders Patent".   As the Wilders patent was due to expire in 1852, Herring spend a sizeable amount of money coming up with a new material to use for heat resistance/insulation, in his safes.

While Silas Herring and John Farrel did have a close working relationship, they didn't actually "merge" until 1861, though it wasn't until 1869 that they formally began using either the "Farrel, Herring & Company" or "Herring, Farrel & Company" logo's.   The two companies still maintained their separate factories with Farrel's in Philadelphia and Herring's in New York.   Generally safes leaving the Philadelphia facility used the Farrel, Herring & Company name, while safes leaving the New York facility used the Herring, Farrel & Company plaques.  Use of names in this manner continued until about 1885 when all of the safes were done under the Herring label until the two companies merged in 1892 as part of the Herring-Hall-Marvin merger.

So at a minimum, we know that your safe probably came from the Philadelphia factory, after 1869, but before 1885.

As far as how much your safe would be worth AFTER restoration work - Sorry, but my wife broke my crystal ball about the same time she killed my money tree.   As I have no way of knowing what type or how much restoration you intend to do, or are willing to pay to have done, I have no way of knowing what the end result would be, and hence its possible value.   If you simply clean the safe and call this restoration, it isn't going to add a great deal in value.   However if you sink $2000 to $4000 into it you may or may not gain significant value.   Again, it depends on the quality of the work.

One think that I love is when people try to extend human qualities to animals, or to think in 2012 terms when discussing items well over 100 years old.   Painting was very basic 150 years ago - there was no such thing as "gloss" or "semi-gloss" or "satin".   It was simply (and I emphasize Simply) painted.   To protect the finish, furnishings were generally varnished.   A good varnish would not only add that SHINY (gloss) finish, but would add depth.  
The problem with Varnish is that it dulls and yellows with age and after being in the sun.   As it gets really old it will form a finish looking much like it was in a fire, this is actually called "crazing" and is not desireable.   In many cases, simply removing the varnish to the paint layer WILL bring back the colors significantly.

In your case as it appears that the varnish, and paint have been damaged or worn down to bare metal, it would be wise to strip it, or even blast it with walnut shells (rather than sand).   When all of the old paint has been removed, paint it with a corrosion inhibitor or primer, before using a fairing compound to remove imperfections in the metal.  When a smooth finish has been obtained, you can start painting your base coats.   Prior to sealing the paint, paint any lettering, pin striping or art work.   If you want to keep it kinda-sorta original, then finish it off with a good quality varnish - or a clear coat.

Note:  keep paint in the jamb area to a minimum so that the door will close cleanly.  Too much paint or material will cause it to stick and/or jam.

As far as color combinations, generally green panels with black banding was standard, though I've seen these safes with other variations.   If you are planning on selling it, stick to basics or colors that ANYONE would be happy to have.   If you are only interested in restoring it for YOUR display, then the colors don't matter as long as it looks good and you are happy.

For instance I saw one restoration that had burgandy panels with black banding and red pin striping.  The handles, acorns and plaques had all been highly polished, and the safe looked great.

Don't forget the interior cabinetry.   If it is old, damaged wood, completely replace it.   Nothing nicer looking than to open a safe to see some really nice wooden cabinetry.

If you would like me to look at your safe to evaluate it, I would be happy to.  Just keep in mind that any evaluation would ONLY consider its CURRENT condition.    In order to answer specific questions, identify, evaluate or appraise your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos should include pictures of the dial, handles, hinges, artwork, locks, bolt work, castors, cabinetry and any special details or damage.  Note:  You may have to remove the back panel on the door to gain access to the lock & bolt work – I will need these pics.
If you have a particular detail that you have a question about, I will need a photo of it along with your question.

I will also need to see any documentation that you have in regards to your safe.  If your safe has a unique historical perspective, you should be able to document this with letters, newspaper articles or photos, if not it is simply a story and will have no bearing on the value of your safe.

Please use as high a resolution as possible so that I can examine details of your safe.  Pictures which are low resolution, out of focus, or from a distance don’t help when we try to evaluate the container.  Note:  with higher resolution, you may only be able to send 2-4 pictures per email, depending on the size of the file, I have a 10mb limit per email.  If photos are larger than 2mb each, you may only be able to send 2 or 3 photos per email, requiring several emails.

Please don’t send me “cell phone” photos.   Also, please don’t use on line photo drops as most of these also don’t allow me to easily access the photos for examination.   Send the pics directly to me, while this may be more work for you, it will make my job easier.

Please send all of the requested photos to:

Note:  As I am in the field several days each week, covering a huge service area, I may not get back to your photos immediately, but I will respond as soon as I get an opportunity.  Due to field work, emails may tend to get backed up which means I may not answer them immediately.

Our informal evaluation is at no charge, however if you feel you need a formal evaluation or appraisal for insurance, estate sales, donations for tax write offs, or to establish it as an antique, there is an administrative fee for this service.

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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

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