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Antique Safes/combination for Halls safe?



This safe was my greatgrandparent's. The number on the handle is 37055.
The doors are open. We don't know the combination or have keys for the inner door and drawers. Is there a way we can determine the combination or reset? Can this be achieved by removing the back of the door? Any suggestions for finding keys that will work?

Thank you,
Susan Moseman


interesting - I had to take a double take at the name on the safe.   One of the really well known safe makers and lock inventors during the mid to late 1800's was "John Malcolm Mossman (1846-1912).   I think my heart skipped a beat for a moment!

Your safe was made by Hall's Safe Company 1896 until around the Great Depression (1930ish).   Based on the serial number, your safe would probably have been made between 1905-1910.

The lock on this safe should be a straight tail piece lock.   If you look at the back cover of the lock, you should notice a small rectangle hole.   This hole was for the combination recovery or discovery key.   Basically the square key (made to fit this hole) would be inserted and the dial turned.   As each wheel lined up, the key would drop into the notch (wheel gate), you would then observe the coresponding number on the dial to obtain the number for that wheel.   Alternately turning the dial left-right-left-right (or RLRL) would give you the numbers for each wheel - then dialing the combination sequence correctly SHOULD allow the door to unlock.

Dialing sequence should be:
4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right to the fourth number - stop and turn handle.

Note:   The dialing sequence (avove) MUST match the directions that you turn the dial when recovering the combination numbers.   If you first dialed RLRL to recover the numbers, then you must ALSO dial the sequence above RLRL!!!!

If you don't have something that will fit the hole correctly, then you can use a flashlight to look into the hole to align the notches in each wheel (wheel gates) with the slot.   This is not quite as accurate though.

If you still can't figure it out, then I would recommend contacting a safe technician from a local safe company to recover the combination, service the lock, and show you the correct dialing sequence for the combination recovered.

Test the new combination several times BEFORE closing and locking the safe door.

Hope this helps, have fun.  

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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. 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

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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.

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2009 - 2013 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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