You are here:

Antique Safes/halls safe


open view
open view  

Hello Terry,

I recently purchased a safe from a man in a nearby town, whom recently acquired it when he purchased a business property, the building was built in 1885 and it has been a jewelry store ever since he could remember, he was going to scrap the safe, and I offered to buy it, it was just a real eye catcher and i couldn't ever imagine scraping anything like this.

All I know is it is a 1889 (from what I'm told) Hall's safe and lock company safe, the dimensions are 71 inches tall, 39 inches wide, 33 inches deep.

Now i know it is extremely heavy, let's put it this way. I had a friend come with a caterpillar skid-steer rated with a 4000lbs max lift and a dump trailer to move it . Well to say the least after he raised the safe  6 inches and it flattened the skid-steers front tires and lifted the rear end up

the serial numbers on the front handles match (102859)

also some other information i obtained was that someone at some point did try to break into it, the front lock was damaged but i do still have the original and a replacement, a few of the interior drawers are missing unfortunately. It is fully functional.

I have a bunch a pictures, can only upload two, but i do have around 30 pictures

I'm really looking any information
I purchased the safe for $250 plus moving fees, I have a total of $400 into it
an appraisal as is
what it would cost to restore
what it'd be worth restored?

thank you for your time Terry

Ricky Swank


First off, I never speculate on restorations or potential value after restoration, as there are too many variables.   For instance if one person expects a restoration to mean new paint job, new cabinetry, etc. and another person expects it to simply be "cleaned up".   Obviously cost are going to vary wildly.   Similarly the post restoration value will be determined by what you have and the final condition.   As with every thing, there is a break even point where you can spend more money than its worth.

for instance we recently did a restoration, total cost nearly $4000, on a safe worth about $1000.   After the restoration the safe is probably worth around $2500.   While this would seem a negative to most people, this safe is going to have a place of prominence in this man's Man Cave.   He got exactly what he wanted.    So the question about what would it be worth restored ultimately depends on what YOUR final goal for the safe is.

First off, I notice a lot of problems with this safe, even only seeing the two photos that you have provided.   While I agree that this safe has a beautiful paint job, this is definitely going to have to be a work of love.   If you are planning on restoring it to sell, you are going to be disappointed.

Obviously the cost of restoration WILL depend on several factors including how much work that YOU can do, and how much do you have to sub out.   If you have a machine shop available, and have some great artistic skills, then most of the work can be a DIY project.   If not you may need to pay someone to work on it.   Cost can be kept down by involving people like the art department at a local college.   They might be interested in taking it on as a restoration project.

Next item - quit moving it around with front end loaders or heavy equipment.   Your chances of causing even more sever damage increase when you use equipment like this.   This safe is an antique - if you are interested in restoration, then further damage shouldn't be an option.   pieces and parts are not available for these older safes, and if you can find them its going to cost you an arm and a leg.   For instance the acorns on the hinges (finials) would cost around $150 to $200 a piece to replace.   That's the potential of around $1600 by themselves.

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 online, internet 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:

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.  

Antique Safes

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.