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Antique Safes/Phillip & Sons



Hi Mike

I am reposting a question to you with recommendation from Terry Andreasen.
It follows as:

Hope you are well, i was wondering if you could spare some of your wisdom with me, a friends father has recently immigrated out of south Africa and has left us to sell of some items of his, and one is an old Phillips & Sons safe, now i don't pretend to know much about antiques or safes but i cant help but think that this is a fairly uncommon safe to have. It is fairly tarnished (although may just need a wash# and we still have the original key, so i was just wanting to ask what you can tell me about the company?  (i heard they no longer in business) or this safe itself, as I'm attaching pics along with it. (if it works)

Thanks Mike if you can let me know anything

Hello Dalton,

Thank you for the enquiry and the pictures.  This type of safe is referred to as 'square corner banded'.  It was constructed from mild steel plates riveted or screwed to an angle-iron frame.  As the joints were very vulnerable to attack, manufacturers began to wrap heavy steel bands around the front and rear edges.  It didn't achieve a great deal and by 1910, this type of safe was largely redundant.

Phillip & Sons disappeared many years ago but are very common in the UK and fetch very little here as they have no function other than decorative.  However, they do scrub up really well and if professionally resprayed to a good level of finish (an auto repair workshop could do this) and all the brasswork highly polished, they make a very smart wine cupboard and also fetch much more.

I suggest you keep an eye on safes of this sort on Ebay.  Ignore the 'Buy Now' items as they invariably ask too much and they seldom sell.  However if you watch a few you will get some idea of values and inevitably someone will post one or two that have been smartly reconditioned - this should give you some ideas.

Good luck,

Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

Antique Safes

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Mike Palmer


I earn my living identifying safes and suggesting cash limits for risk advisors and insurance surveyors in the UK. I'm am pleased to comment on safes manufactured in the UK or Mainland Europe but I am unable to accept questions regarding safes made in the USA or elsewhere.


I have been in the UK safe industry for 40 years and have one of the largest archive databases of old safe literature and serial numbers in the country. I started with Chubb in 1960 and became Assistant Manager of their Bank Security Division before moving on to become the Insurance Liaison Manager with the John Tann Group. I became Sales & Marketing Director for Guardian Safes Limited before semi-retiring. I am a Fellow of the Security Institute and ex-Chairman of Eurosafe UK, a trade body representing the interests of UK safe makers and distributors. I now work as a part time consultant.

I am an advisor to the Safe Committee of the Association of Insurance Surveyors, a Fellow of the Security Institute and founding Chairman of Eurosafe UK.

I have had literally scores of articles published in various security trade publications. So far this year I have had 24 features published in various journals including Keyways, Professional Security, Pawnbroker and Safe India. I have published one book, Peckham Boy, the life and times of the world's greatest safe cracker.

No relevant educational credentials.

Awards and Honors
In 1997 I was awarded the annual shield by the Association of Insurance Surveyors for "..outstanding services to crime prevention"

Past/Present Clients
I have represented or been an agent for the John Tann Group (Stratford, Ratner, Dreadnought and Tann safes); Churchill Safes, Chubb Safe Co Ltd, SLS Safes, SMP Safes, Dudley Safes and several others

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