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Antique Safes/S. Jones Boston Floor safe

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S. Jones safe front
S. Jones safe front  
QUESTION: I'm wondering if you have any information about this safe that I inherited.  It is about 4 feet high and measures 28" x28" the plaque on the front reads S. Jones Boston.  It has a key lock not a combination (I lost the key, hoping I can get a lock smith to unlock it) It would have been purchased circa 1880 by my great great grandfather who travelled to Boston on business. It is now in New Brunswick Canada.  If you have any further information on it, I'd appreciate it.  I'm going to see if our local museum would like to have it.  THanks very much Sara

ANSWER: Sara,

Samual Jones was either an agent for a manufacturer, or he actually made safes.   The information I have, even his advertisments, is conflicting.   He started making/selling Salamander safes in the early 1850's in Chelsea, Mass., but by the early 1860's was listed in Boston, Mass. with a store at #63 Haverhill Street.

Generally all safes which were categorized as "Salamander Safes" were key locking safes.   Combination locks didn't start showing up on safes until the early 1850's, and many manufacturers didn't make the switch.

As far as the lost key, I would strongly warn against using a locksmith for safe work.  Generally they do not have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes like this.   In fact in this case, I would also be rather "picky" about the safe technician that I choose.   You will want someone who is familiar with and knowledgeable about antique safes.  

As this safe IS an antique, having it ruined during any attempts by a locksmith would be a shame.

Good luck with it.

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

QUESTION: Thank you so very much. It's more information than I had actually anticipated.  Regarding the proper person to open it, do you know of anyone who does this sort of work in Canada...or in Maine as I am close to the border. Is this safe valuable...I'm gathering it is.  Can you give a ball park amount of it's worth. Thank you again, I really appreciated your information. Sara

Answer
Sara,

I would be happy to look at your safe to evaluate it for you, however it WILL need to be unlocked as I will need to see the interior as well.

Unfortunately, probably the nearest person that I would recommend is in Massachusetts.   Again as I mentioned previously, because of the type of safe, I would not let just anyone work on it.   You can discuss the project with various locksmiths and safe companies in your area to see what they would charge, what their method of opening and repairing the safe would be.   Feel free to run any of these proposals by me before having the work done.    While drilling a single small hole into the lock to help open it, would be ok, and should not damage the safe or lock, turning the safe into swiss cheese or other wise damaging it should not be the goal.

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:  andy@securitysafeusa.com

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)

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

Organizations
Safecrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
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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