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Antique Safes/Whitfield safe



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Hi Mike
I came across an old safe of my husbands from many moons ago which was abandoned in our garden during building work.  It has a lock and two keys but havn't managed to get it open yet as it is obviously quite rusty.  It reads 'Whitfield Manor Birmingham Impregnable fireproof chest and 'safe bind save find'  External dimensions are H620mm x W440mm x D34mm.  Just wondering if it is worth anything?

Many thanks


HI Gillian,

Thanks for your question and the pictures.  Whitfield was one of a host of small Black Country safe makers who emerged in the late Victorian era.  SAdly it has no value commercially as insurers won't accept them because they provide no protection against today's burglars and have virtually no fire resistance for documents.

However, some people like to buy these ancient safes to restore them to a high standard of finish. then sell them on as wine cupboards or curios.

The best way to get a feel for its value is to search eBay for 'antique safes' and see what they are fetching.  Ignore BUY NOW items as they inevitably overprice them and seldom sell.  The lock is brass so you should be able to get it open, especially with a bit of WD40 around the hinges.  

If it opens it could be worth 50 to 100 but if you are unable to get the door to budge, it will be more or less worthless as the cost of calling in a safe enginee would be more than its value.  If you auction it, make sure you state 'buyer collects' as its filling of sand and sawdust will make it quite heavy.

I hope this helps,


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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