You are here:

Antique Safes/victor safe restoration


Andy, i bought a working victor safe in need of a restoration. The previous owner striped most of the paint to bare metal on the outside. I was wondering what the proper color was supposed to be? The inside was black with a gold strip around the door and gold letters saying pat'd Nov 1 87 and June 16 91 The dial says pat'd Oct 2 88 So I'm guessing it was made in 1891. If you can tell me the proper color black and if there are any other decals or strips that go on the outside of the safe it would be a big help.
Thanks Gordon


First item - you know what they say about making assumptions!!!   the dates on the safe are PATENT dates.  These dates represent the date the patent was issued, NOT the date the safe was made.   These dates could have been placed on the safe for up to 20 years after their issue if the manufacture chose to indicate what patent the safe was built under.   So your "guess" as to a date of 1891, has no basis.

As far as colors, while base colors were usually black, brown or an olive green, these safes could also be a two tone color, and have pin striping and hand oil paintings.   While decals were used as early as the 1870's on some safes, most safes were decorated by hand painting.  The more ornate, the more expensive.

While I would be happy to send you some photos of some samples, you will have to send me a request to

IF you decide to have decals instead of hand, oil paintings, you can have the decals made up at any of the "instant sign companies" that are in every city.   You will need some good art work for them to work from, but they can pretty much make any decal design you wish, including the lettering.  

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 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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. 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

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 - 2013 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

©2016 All rights reserved.