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Antique Safes/s withers safe identification please


S Withers Plaque
S Withers Plaque  

Handle Keyhole Cover
Handle Keyhole Cover  
Hi, I have this S Withers Safe. It has an usual shaped plaque to the front which reads By HM Royal Letters Patent, S Withers & Co Manufacturing. I have tried to identify this safe myself, but have been unsucesful. Please could you shed any light on when this safe was made, and advice on whether I should remove the plates and sell seperately, or sell it as a whole safe in need of restoration.
I notice also the handle is different to any I can find, its sort of hexaganal shaped.
Any advice or information would be gratefully appreciated.
Many Thanks for your great service. Kind Regards.

Hello Jacky,

Thanks for your question and the excellent pictures.  Firstly, this type of safe is referred to as 'square cornered' as it was assembled from separate mild steel plates riveted onto an angle-iron frame.  This type of safe was common from the mid 1800's to about 1890 when they were  considered obsolete because of the ease with which the rivets can be ripped.  The space between the inner and outer body is filled with sand and sawdust as a primitive fire damp.

There were two Withers, Samuel and Thomas who were related.  Neither company is now in existence.

Although these old safes no longer have any practical function, there are collectors who like to restore them to a high standard and sell them on as antiques.  These buyers can be found on eBay but square cornered safes seldom fetch more than 140 for a good tidy specimen.  Yours is in a pretty poor state so it is unlikely to sell, but worth a try.

If there are no bids, you could polish the plate and sell it separately but Sam Withers plates are quite common so it probably wouldn't fetch much more than 25.  The hexagonal brass handle is typically Victorian and quite common on safes over 100 years old.

My advice?  Remove the plate, polish it up until it looks like new, then frame it together with the keyhole cover, then hang it on the wall.  As I write I have a framed Cyrus Price plate on the wall in front of me and it looks excellent.

Good luck,

Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

Antique Safes

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Mike Palmer


I earn my living identifying safes and suggesting cash limits for risk advisors and insurance surveyors in the UK. I'm am pleased to comment on safes manufactured in the UK or Mainland Europe but I am unable to accept questions regarding safes made in the USA or elsewhere.


I have been in the UK safe industry for 40 years and have one of the largest archive databases of old safe literature and serial numbers in the country. I started with Chubb in 1960 and became Assistant Manager of their Bank Security Division before moving on to become the Insurance Liaison Manager with the John Tann Group. I became Sales & Marketing Director for Guardian Safes Limited before semi-retiring. I am a Fellow of the Security Institute and ex-Chairman of Eurosafe UK, a trade body representing the interests of UK safe makers and distributors. I now work as a part time consultant.

I am an advisor to the Safe Committee of the Association of Insurance Surveyors, a Fellow of the Security Institute and founding Chairman of Eurosafe UK.

I have had literally scores of articles published in various security trade publications. So far this year I have had 24 features published in various journals including Keyways, Professional Security, Pawnbroker and Safe India. I have published one book, Peckham Boy, the life and times of the world's greatest safe cracker.

No relevant educational credentials.

Awards and Honors
In 1997 I was awarded the annual shield by the Association of Insurance Surveyors for "..outstanding services to crime prevention"

Past/Present Clients
I have represented or been an agent for the John Tann Group (Stratford, Ratner, Dreadnought and Tann safes); Churchill Safes, Chubb Safe Co Ltd, SLS Safes, SMP Safes, Dudley Safes and several others

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