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Antique Safes/Cary Safe


Cary Safe
Cary Safe  
We have a Cary Safe, Patent Sept 16, 1890 Buffalo, New York written on outside center dial; 83212 written on ball of handle; inside door in red/brown/burgundy type color is Cary Safe Co. Buffalo, NY with a silver colored circle in the center with the numbers 91957; it is unlocked. The outside has been painted by someone with the initials ST
It would be nice to know more about this safe, when it was made, whether there might be a market for it, and who to contact if it does have antique value.


Well, let me see if I can answer some of your questions.

First, the Patent date is for the LOCK, not the manufacture date of the safe.

The lock that I would expect to find on this safe (based on the serial numbers) would be a Cary C-5 lock.    Approximately 57,000 safes were made with this lock, spanning a period of from September 1890 until January 1907.    Your safe was made during that last couple of years  that this lock was used - around 1905-1906.

So while it isn't as old as you were hoping for, it is still considered an antique safe.  (over 100 years old).

As far as the "paint job" - this is NOT original.    At sometime the safe was repainted black, and then the "Smurf" paint job was added.    While I'm not against this paint job, and it does show that someone did have some artistic talent, it does take away from the overall value of the safe.
The problem with "personalized" restorations like this is that while YOU (or more specifically the person who had it done) may like it - you have immediately limited your potential buying audience down.    Bottom line (and be realistic with your answer), how many people do you really anticipate to anxiously want to buy this safe and display it in their living room.

I'm not trying to be the bad guy here, but you do have some serious decisions to make if you are interested in selling this safe.   Either be prepared to sell it for a low price to get rid of it, or have some restoration work done to bring it back to a slightly more realistic art work.    A big start would be to #1 have the blue color repainted to a color slightly less aggressive, don't necessarily get rid of the art work, just tone it down.  and #2, repaint the name of the manufacturer on the safe.   Possibly #3, paint the angle iron around the edging a lighter color for a two tone effect, which might draw some of the attention away from the "Smurfs"!   Sorry, I shouldn't laugh, my wife painted one of my old safes "pink", with black trim and brass fittings, then she did a decoupage of a castle on the front, and still managed to sell it for $800!

While there is a market for antique safes, it is NOT a particularly large one, which means that in order to sell the safe, YOU will have to do some major advertising.   Ebay, Craigslist, etc.   You can also use antique dealers or an Auction house to sell it, though they generally want a possible 30% of the sale price.    I'm not sure who you wanted me to point you towards to contact as there is no antique safe sellers market.

Lastly, if you would like me to look at your safe to evaluate it or appraise it (beyond what I've already noted), I would be happy to.

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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