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Antique Safes/two antique safes unopened for 75+ years

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Question
Hi my friends landlord has two unopened safes in the basement of his building. He hasn't ever tried to open them and neither did the previous owner of the building. The building had only ever had the owners. I am also told the dates both belonged to the original owner (tenant?) Of the building, he was a jeweler. This story seems to check out as the larger safe has a name printed on top which is definitely the name of a jewler is the area from the 1920s. I am interested in making an offer on the two safes, but I want to know if it will be worth all the time and money to get them open and functioning. Also the mystery of these things is driving me insane! The larger safe is from Diebold Safe & Lock Co. patented March 27, 1877. It is extremely ornate, it is painted to look like it's made of wood and has a small landscape painting in the center. It also has the original owners name and city painted on the front. The second safe us much smaller. Only about knee high and could be lifted by two men. Is is marked United States Safe Co. Pittsburgh, PA and W.C. Clark Safe Co. Manufacturer's Agents Pittsburgh, PA. I can send pictures of you let me know how to go about that. I can also take more pictures if necessary. The condition looks prettt good. The Diebold has one dial and two handles, the smaller one also has one dial but only one handle that no longer remains attached. Thanks for your help!

Answer
Todd,

So are you asking me how much I think the safes are worth, or how much it is going to cost to have them opened and repaired???

Locked up, the safes have a negative value, as it will cost to have them opened, and there is no guarantee that they are actually worth anything.    Once they are opened, I would be happy to evaluate them for you.

The date on the Diebold safe is simply the date the patent was issued, and has nothing to do with the manufacture of the safe, other than to let us know it couldn't have been made before that date.   Depending on the patent and item, this date could have appeared on safes for up to a 20 year period, if it was still recognizing the item the patent was referring to.   So this gives us a possible period of from 1877 to 1900, which would make it an antique.

Safes made by the United States Safe Company, were produced between 1905 to 1930, so while this safe may still be collectible, it may not be an antique.   The W.C. Clark Safe Company was, as indicated, simply a sales agent for the US Safe Company, They incorporated in July 1909, in Pittsburg, PA.   The US SAFE Company was in Elizabeth, NJ not Pittsburgh, PA.

Note:  Pittsburgh was originally named with its present spelling 22 April, 1794.  It was briefly referred to as Pittsburg in the late 1800s (around 1859).  The name Pittsburgh was officially restored in 1911, though examples of the spelling without the h can be found in many newspapers printed through at least 1916, illustrating the resistance to change.

If as indicated your safe has the spelling of Pittsburgh, with the "h", we can assume that it was made at some time AFTER the spelling change, and/or 1916, which would mean that it is NOT an antique yet.

If you don't have a local safe company to use, to have the safes opened, I have several friends in the New York area that I can refer you to.   Again, after the safes are opened, I would be happy to look at them to provide further information, and/or appraise them.

Antique Safes

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

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

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
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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