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Antique Safes/Reliable safe & lock co.


I just bought an old reliable safe at an estate sale. It 24"H,18"W,19"D,has a dial & lever. (It,s locked) I bought with restoring in mind but not sure if its worth it. The dial & lever have some slack and there,s a 1" hole in the center of the bottom but not into the interior.Is this normal? I have read some of your commets about getting these old safes open. I,ll have to have someone open it if it,s worth saving. I have to know whats inside. Any commets or suggestions would be deeply appreciated.          Thanks Bill


Safes made by the Reliable Safe & Lock Company were made between 1916-1941.  The company was acquired in the early 1940's by the Mosler Safe Company.

Unfortunately, while your safe is a collectible - it isn't an antique yet, AND it has a negative value until you have it opened.    As far as WHAT it is actually worth - I would be happy to evaluate it when you have it opened - bottom line value would be what ever price that you the seller, and the buyer agree upon.   If you have 3 prices in mind (an asking price, the price you would like, and bottom line you would comfortably accept), and the buyer has 3 prices in mind (their offering price, the price they would like to pay, and the maximum amount they would comfortably pay), then there should be some price aggreeable to both of you.   Obviously the more that you and the buyer educate yourselves about the item, the closer to an aggreable price you will both be.

You basically have two options to open the safe, you can try all the possible combinatons and/or have a safe technician, from a local safe company, open it.   NOTE:  I never recommend using locksmiths for safe work, as generally they don't have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes without causing excessive damage.

Reliable did use several different types of locks on their safes, so I would need to have a better idea of what you have to offer any advice.

Based on your description, it sounds like you have the integrated dial & handle combination.   Assuming this the dialing sequence should be:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops (around 8), then turn handle to retract the bolt work.

While there are actually only about 14,000 possible combinatations, as there is no way of breaking down the dial, to which numbers to use and not use, other than guessing, you may have to try all 1,000,000 possible combinations based on the 100 dial numbers.

Once the safe is open, I would be happy to look at it for you, to try to determine when it was made (approximate age), and how much it is potentially worth (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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