Antique Safes/antique safe
QUESTION: Hi Terry
I recently purchased an Herrings-Ferrel's Safe. It is a large, free-standing safe on metal wheels. It has 2-doors, is 66" tall, 45" wide, and 30 1/2" deep. It has two door handles with #77980 engraved on them. It has two tumbler handles(one is a dummy) and both have engraved Patented Aug 24, 1869. It has a Dexter, 4 tumbler combination lock.On inside wood panels attached to back of door is painted Patented Dec 12th, 1871. It looks like safe was originally painted red. I believe it was built in NYC. It was found in a Brooklyn warehouse. I think it weighs at least 3000 lbs, maybe as much as 5000 lbs.
I would like to know more about this safe. The inside has had the shelving removed and I wanted to attempt to restore the wood shelving, perhaps something like original. I would love to see original advertisement showing inside details of this safe, etc. It works perfectly , however previous owner painted it black :-(. But I love safe and if you could direct me to a site(s) that would have info and illustration I need, I would be grateful. Also does the National Antique safe Association have a website? thanks, john
Silas Herring & John Farrel had a personal friendship beyond that of their safe manufacturing dating back to the 1840's. Even though Farrel's company was in Philadelphia and Herring's was in New York, they worked together on a number of projects. As early as 1861, they were working together on safes, though the actual merger didn't happen until 1869. Generally safes which came from the New York facility, were labeled as "Herring-Farrel", and those from the Philadelphia plant were labeled as "Farrel-Herring". According to an 1888 article, the name was actually changed during the 1861 to "Herring & Company", though safes were still labeled by where they were made. After Silas C. Herring's death in 1881, you don't see many safes with both the "Herring-Farrel" or "Farrel-Herring" logos, strictly "Herring & Company".
In 1892 Herring & Company merged with Hall's Safe & Lock Company and the Marvin Safe Company to form "Herring-Hall-Marvin".
So based on the information you have, and the patent dates on your safe, it would most likely have been built AFTER the 1871 patent date, or between 1872 to 1881, and built at the New York, NY facility. According to the 1888 article, by that time, there were about 75,000 "Herring & Company Safes" in America and abroad. As the serial number on your safe is 77980, this would indicate that it was built AFTER the 1888 article, however, to my knowledge they had completely stopped using the "Herring & Farrel" logo by 1885 at the latest.
Sorry, but the National Antique Safe Association is all but defunct with only a few members still around. There is no website. There are only a few of us left willing to help in this way.
I would be happy to look at your safe to answer any specific questions about it. After seeing what you actually have, I'll see what photos I have which might be of use to you.
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 10mb 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 on line 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
In your answer to my question concerning my Herrings-Ferrel's safe with serial numbers 77980. You did not mention if there was any place to locate early advertisements for these safes. I really would like to see an illustration showing interior cabinetry, so that I can build shelving, etc. Also I forgot to mention it is missing one of the finials and wondered if parts like that are for sale anywhere. I realize you need to see photos, so I am working on that now. Also what is this type of safe called in the trade, and who would have used a safe this size? A business I presume? Was this safe probably hand painted with decorations on outside, similar to the wood panels on inside of safe?
Appreciate your time,
There are no sources for early manufacturers catalogs or drawings. The best you can hope to find would be advertisments in local papers from the period you are researching. Unfortunately unless someone has already done a data base of information in the subject papers, you will simply have to pull up copies and scan through every page. Sorry but the internet is NOT the magic tool everyone thinks it is, someone has to have copied, saved, published and made available every item on the internet, and if someone hasn't done the work, then it is not available.
Other sources would possibly include the library of congress, local libraries in New York, Museums in New York, etc.
In general Distributors and Sales Agents, only maintained current copies of available items. When a company went out of business or the product was no longer available, the catalogs or sales brochure material was simply discarded. Just as we don't look at current items today, with the possiblity that they will be an antique to someone 100-150 years from now, no one in the late 1800's was interested in saving any of that material.
If I had this type of material available, I would be more than happy to share it, but the bottom line is, if it exists, I haven't been able to find it either yet.
The best I'm going to be able to offer are photos or recommendations based on the material that I have available. There are a few other people around the country who also collect this type of material, however I don't have access to their collections, and most don't share what they have. If you've noticed, I'm one of only a couple individual's that volunteers to answer questions or help with antique safes.
Again, send me all of the requested photos, and I'll see what I have that might help you out.