Antique Safes/Cyrus Price &Co Wolverhampton
Hello I am interested in gettin a value on a Cyrus Price & Co Wolverhampton 212. Any information about the safe would be much appreciated.
If it has a (212) on the safe, I would expect it to have been a Milners as this was one of their "trademarks". I would also like to see the logo "Cyrus Price & Co".
In the 1850's there were two major safe rivals in Wolverhampton - they were Thomas Milner and George Price, whose relationship was akin to that of the "Hatfield's and McCoy's". It call got started when Price published his "George Price's Treatise on Fire & Thief Proof Depositories and Locks and Keys", a 1000 page book in 1856, which sounded like thrilling reading!
The book included many testimonials of the results of fire tests conducted by his rival, Thomas Milner, along with the heavy suggestion that these testimonials of the fire resisting attributes of Milnerís safes were nothing but lies. But despite this, Price was using Milnerís technology of a fire resisting compound in his own safes (allowable since the patent had expired).
At first, things started out mildly. Milner displayed in his window a mint condition Milner safe, with a totally mutilated Price safe next to it. But then things escalated to a series of challenges of public testing of the safes, both against fire and brute force entry.
One of these tests took place in April of 1860, both Price and Milner showed up with safes to include in the test. As a public test, anyone could try to test the safes. One man, Mr. Freestone, did not like Price, so he showed up that day with a large quantity of gun powder to test a safe. When he tried to place his charge in the lock of the price safe, he discovered that the lock would not hold the mount of gunpowder that he expected, and he was unsuccessful. Milnerís safe was then prepared (by Priceís men), and the door was blown right off its hinges. Milner had boasted a ďdouble patent gunpowder-proof solid lockĒ but within seven minutes a hole was drilled through the door plate, and the powder was poured through the hole to where the movement of the main bolts were located. Milnerís safe didnít stand a chance.
Milner then tried to do the same to priceís safe, but met with failure when they tried to drill or find any other way to dislodge the spindle so they could place a full charge of gunpowder. Considering the trial over and a success, price and his men left. But Milner was not to be out done, he was determined to blow up a Price safe that day. Milner had his men bring an older style safe. Though only five years old, it did not incorporate the improvements of the newer safe, and the lock had been packed with an excessive amount of gunpowder. The safe was blown into bits. The crowd had only been expecting an explosion similar to what they had seen before, so no extra precautions were taken for the larger amount of powder. Pieces of the safe flew into the crowd and a young boy was killed.
Though full of remorse for what happened, Milner and Price continued in their bitter rivalry, their attitudes unchanged.
I don't have any information concerning any relationship between George Price and Cyrus Price, though I would find it hard to believe that in Wolverhampton in the 1850's, with both manufacturing safes that they wouldn't be related.
Cyrus Price began building safes around the same time (1840) though was not considered a major safe manufacturer until years later. Apparently he also used the "212" trademark.
if you are interested their is a good article on this company at: http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/Museum/locks/gazetteer/Price1.htm
The "212" is in reference to the temperature at which papers char, or 212 degrees Centigrade (413.6 degrees F.) If the interior temperature of a safe is kept BELOW this temperature, documents should be protected. Generally current manufacturers use a temperature of 350 degrees F as a cut off point for additional safety.
Cyrus Price died in 1895 though his company continued into the early 1900's. There is one current company that claims its roots from this company. www.insafe.co.uk
generally in the UK, most similar safes are valued at between 150-200 British pounds (about $240-$320 US), though as these containers are fewer in the US, the price would be higher. While I would be happy to evaluate your safe. I would also encourage you to check with local antique dealers to see what a similar item might be going for in your area.
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 Ė 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 donít 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 donít send me ďcell phoneĒ photos. Also, please donít use on line photo drops as most of these also donít 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: email@example.com
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.