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Antique Safes/Cary Safe



Hi Terry,

I recently acquired a Cary Safe (see attached pictures). Itís in great shape and works very well. The acorns are hollow, the number on the handle is 199671, the dial is stamped with the name Cary, and the combination is 3 digits and stops/opens at 90. Can you tell me when it was manufactured approximately and the type of lock? Can you explain the purpose of the blue powdery stuff found on the edge of the door and the safe? This stuff rubs off very easily and it missing in certain areas. Iíve noticed the same on many pictures found on the internet. Finally, I will need to redo the cabinetry. I was wondering if you have pictures of what it looked like when new and what type of wood I should be using?

Thank you



The serial number indicates that your safe would have been built between 1926-1928.  The lock is probably a Yale M-16.   This was basically an upgraded version of the Yale Y6 lock, with an internal relocking trigger, and three wheels.

I'm not sure what the "blue" material actually is.   While I have seen this on a few Cary safes, it was not the norm.   Most of the safes had a white seal, similar to the material you find on oven doors to help keep the heat out.   As your blue material "rubs off fairly easily", I would have to assume that it was probably a felt liner along the seal edge, more for decoration than actual heat resistance.

As far as providing you with "NEW" photos of Cary safes, until myself and another guy began doing research on this company, very little was actually known about them.   While we have managed to get quite a bit of information, we do not have any of the original catalogs or similar items from the manufacturer.

I do have a lot of photos of Cary safes, and can probably come up with one near your serial number to provide some idea of what it looked like.   As far as "what type of wood" you can use Oak, Rosewood, Cherry, Walnut, etc.

What other questions do you have???

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


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.


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

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

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

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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