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Antique Safes/Herring-Hall safe, with combination


Hi Terry, I was wondering if you can give some help/advise on a safe we own.  The front of the safe, as well as the combination knob says Herring~Hall~Marvin Co, and the only other markings that I can see from it's position now is there is a 502 on the handle.  I have the combination for this safe but we are unsure on which turns would be needed to be made to use it.  We acquired this from a friend who hadn't opened it in 10+ years, so is also unsure what directions are needed to turn to the correct combo.  It is a 5 number combination.  Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.


Chances are it is not a 5 number combination.   Previous owners tend to pass combinations along, the way that THEY understand them and NOT necessarily the way that the lock works.   In general the majority of the locks used by HHM are "THREE" number combinations, and the dialing sequence should be:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops

NOTE 1:  Left is counter clockwise, Right is clockwise.   DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual numbers as the arrive at the 12 o'clock index mark.

NOTE 2:  If the lock is a Yale lock, then the dialing sequence (above) would be RLRL rather than LRLR.

As you didn't provide me with the combination which you were given, I have no way of trying to decode it for you.   If necessary provide it to me "EXACTLY" as written by the previous owner, and I'll see what I can do.

There are ONLY three reasons that a safe lock will not open, in order they are:
1.  Incorrect dialing sequence, or operator errors,
2.  Incorrect combination, or wrong numbers,
3.  Mechanical problems.

If you are dialing it correctly, then the combination may not be correct.   If you still can't get it open, then you may need to have it checked out by a safe technician from a local safe company.

Hope this helps,

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


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.


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

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

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

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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