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Antique Safes/van dorn iron works


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Have old safe its a van dorn iron works  metallic furniture dept. Safe large 24 3/4"w x 25" d x 59" tall with casters has yale lock green finish 6 bolts brass acorn hinges would like to know history,rarity and value?

Barrett, rarity, all least with some safes, does not necessarily correlate to value.  Although I haven't worked on all that many Van Dorns here in Cleveland, I wouldn't consider them rare.  When your safe was made, say the 1920's, Cleveland had become a major U.S. business center and as a result is, to this day, filled with old office safes of many different makes.  After the introduction of reliable elevators and steel frameworks in the early 1900's, the buildings were being built taller, so fire safe makers reduced the amount of steel used, to lighten the floor loads. I think it is around that time when Van Dorn started in the safe biz.  Van Dorn is probably better known for jail locks, which I believe they were making long before safes. I do remember the company was still in business when I started as a locksmith in the 70's, but I think they had already quit making safes by that time.  Doug  

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Doug MacQueen


This unusual and highly innovative safe from the later 1800's is a Corliss. William, the much younger brother of George Corliss of steam engine fame, spent several years perfecting this design and it was first displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia U.S. Centennial Exhibition. I do extensive patent research helping me in the study of antique U.S. safes and safe locks. Repairs and part making for antique U.S. safes of the early to mid 1800's, both key and combination. Also the study of early round door chest designs up to and including cannonball safes of the early 1900's.


40 years in the lock and safe trade with a stint in bank service work. Openings, repairs and moving of safes of all types.

Charter member Safe and Vault Technicians Association SAVTA, National Safemans Association NSO, National Antique Safe Association NASA. No longer current.

SAVTA monthly magazine

CMS (Certified Master Safecracker- NSO) and CPS (Certified Professional Safe Technician - SAVTA)

Awards and Honors
2nd place national combination manipulation contest 1986 and now in 2016 1st place

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