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Antique Safes/No combination for my 1890 Cary safe


Can I get into my Cary safe 1890 with no combo?  The # on the handle is 46115. What r my options. Family gave up trying to open this years ago. Would like to get it open for my grandma before she passes. She has never Ben in it since she received it and doesn't want to damage it. What r my options?


I doubt that you have an "1890" Cary safe.   if you are referring to the PATENT date on the dial, this was the date that the PATENT was issued for the lock, and NOT when the safe was built.   Your safe could have been built up to 20 years after this date.    However, based on the serial number (46115), your safe was probably built around 1895-1897.
Unfortunately manufacturers NEVER release any information concerning their safes including the serial numbers, combinations, etc., and as this company has been out of business since 1929 contacting them to find the original combination is pretty much out of the question.

Based on your serial number, I would expect your safe to have a Cary C-5 lock.   This lock was a "straight tailpiece" type lock with 3 wheels and a drive wheel.   The dialing sequence for this lock could be either LRLR or RLRL depending on how the combination was decoded originally.   each of these sequences WILL have a different combination, with only the last number being the same.   Unfortunately there is no easy way for you to figure out the combination with the door being locked shut.   With the four wheels and a 100 number dial, this gives you around 100,000,000 possible combinations to try.    Trying 500 combinations per day - EVERY DAY, will only take you about 548 years to try them all.

Fortunately there is a much better option - have a safe technician from a local safe company open the safe.   While manipulation is possible, it is not guaranteed, which means that you would be paying for the service and NOT the end result.   Drilling the safe is an acceptable option and it will not hurt or damage the safe if done correctly.   The small hole, generally 1/4" or less is easily repaired.  

As this safe IS an antique, and parts are not available for it, I would not recommend any service which would damage anything - nor would I recommend anyone who could not professionally open the safe and not damage it.
I never recommend using locksmiths for safe work as they generally don't have the training, knowledge or tools and can cause excessive damage or charge exhorbant fees.   Contact a local safe company to have their safe tech open your safe.   Discuss what they plan to do and how they intend on repairing the safe.   All fees should be up front with no hidden costs.    I never recommend hourly rates as this is simply incentive for them to make the job take much longer than necessary.   Total time to open and repair the safe, recovering the combination should be 1 to 2 hours, cost should be in the $350 to $500 range.

if you have any questions concerning fees or proposed methods feel free to run them by me.

Good luck.

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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

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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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