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Antique Safes/Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Co old safe can't be opened


Hi I have a  Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Co Safe in my basement that was here when I moved in. The house had been empty and some kids broke in and tried to drill it open through where the handle should be.(They broke it off) They also chiseled the dial off and tried to drill or melt the tumbler assembly. I'm curious to know if I can cut the door hinges off with a torch and get the door off or if I would need to cut a hole through the side if I wanted to get inside it. I'm fairly sure there isn't anything in it as I know the woman who used to own it, but you never know. I am also interested to know if there may be any other way to open it, or if you think it could be repaired, I wouldn't mind having an awesome old safe like this one.

   Eric, recently I got a call from a construction crew foreman to open an old bank vault door so the vault space could be utilized for a new restaurant. Upon arrival that day, I saw that the foreman had already used an oxy-acetylene torch to burn off the pilot wheel compression system, which is used to pull open and force shut the tight fitting door. I informed him that what he had done would in no way help in getting the door open, and actually made the job harder. He understood his mistake. I quoted a price which the store owner thought too high. It wasn't but I left to let them think it over.  A few days later I stopped by to see how they were getting along.  Amazingly, the owner, in his infinite wisdom had hired another torch man come in and burn off the door crane hinge.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  Guess what, the door was still locked.          So much for cutting off the hinges.          The safe can be opened and it can be repaired.  It will not be cheap.  But then again neither will having a torn up piece a scrap removed from your basement and disposed of.  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

Past/Present Clients

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