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Antique Safes/Old Safe!


QUESTION: Hi I am hoping for some information on a safe I have recently acquired. It is a Milners 212 Patent Fire Resistant Safe with a key number of A174.

         Thanking you in advance


I'm not sure what information you are looking for, but about the best I can offer would be a basic History of the manufacturer.   If you are looking for the history of "YOUR" safe, you would have to track it through previous owners.

MILNER  (1830-1940’s) Liverpool, England
  Milner made safes from the mid-1800s and after merging with Chatwood nearly 100 years later, safes were marked Chatwood Milner. Subsequently they were bought by Chubb in 1962. The Chubb company changed hands until becoming part of the Assa-Abloy group. Assa kept the door lock side but immediately sold the safe business to Gunnebo who currently use the name on safes under license from Assa-Abloy.
  In 1830, Thomas Milner founded the firm of Thomas Milner and Son in Liverpool, England, it would become one of the foremost English safe companies of the 19th century. Thomas apprenticed with his father from 1791 where he learned to manufacture iron coffers and strong boxes . Early on in his career he counted among his clients the Duke of Wellington and the English War Office, Milner safes are even known to have been aboard the Titanic. Milner was a pioneer in the development of fire-resistant safes. These fire-resistant safes were developed by adding an inner body and filling the space in between with a compound which would insulate the contents and emit moisture which lowered the flash point of any paper contents. Thomas Milner took out a patent on his design in 1840.
  The Milner's 212 patented & improved fire and theft protecting safes appear to have been manufactured from the 1850’s to the late 1800’s.
The “212” on most Milner's safes appears to reference the boiling point of water at which it becomes a vapor.  This moisture was a key ingredient in many safes during this time.  During a fire the moisture would turn to steam protecting the documents from fire.

If you have any other specific questions I would be happy to attempt to answer them.   There are two other experts on this site, who ARE English safe experts.   Both Tom Gordon and Mike Palmer specialize in European safes, and especially British made safes.   You may want to run your questions by them as well.

Hope this helps,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Would u able to put a value on it for me  
         Thanking You


I would be more than happy to look at the safe for you, however any value that I place on it would be what I would appraise it at, based on its sale in the US, specifically the western United States (California).   Values can change based on the area that you are in.

As Milner's safes were generally sold throughout the UK, value would NOT be remotely the same as in the US, simply because of quantity or availability.    For instance if your safe were to go to Auction in the UK, it might be up against a dozen or more similar safes, greatly reducing its value.   The same safe might be the only one like it, at any given auction in the US, for months, greatly enhancing its value.

My understanding concerning most similar safes in the UK, indicates values ranging from 150 to 200 British pounds as an average (about $240 to $320 US Dollars).   In the US, the same safe might go for $750 to $1000 US.

I would recommend that you check with local antique dealers or auction houses to see what values similar safes have gone for recently, to establish a more realistic value of what you might expect.

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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 – 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 don’t 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 12mb 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 don’t send me “cell phone” photos.   Also, please don’t use online, internet photo drops as most of these also don’t 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:

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.  

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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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