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Antique Safes/motheau Bte safe identification


Hi Mike.
I have a Motheau safe with a six lever double throw lock
and a letter lock combination lock.
It was built into a french bookcase circa 1880?
and i would like to know more about it and whether it is worth restoring.
Thanks for your time.
P.S I know a photo would be very useful
but i dont have the computer skills to do " attatchments " yet
I am in Australia and happy to answer any questions.

Hi Robert,

Thank you for your question.  The mid 1800s to the mid 1900s, there was a veritable explosion of safe production with safe makers popping up everywhere, both in the UK and Europe.  Some of them we know a great deal about and others are less easy to find out about.  I have seen a lithograph of the Motheau factory floor and it seems that they were a major concern, but apart from finding the odd Matheau safe in French depot ventes, I know nothing more of their history.

Some of these early French safes had very elaborate bolt-work systems and I have seen a Fichet safe of this period with a perspex panel over the back of the door, being offered for sale at over 1,000.

So,whilst I can't tell you much about the Motheau company history, I may be able to tell you more about the general construction, but I would need pictures.  I understand that if you are new to computers, taking pictures and getting them on line may seem a little daunting, but actually it is not too difficult once someone has shown you how.  If you are able to get a couple of digital pictures, it would be easier to send them direct to my personal email;  Please sent two; one with the door open showing the entire front view of the safe, and one with the door open to reveal the bolt-work and door thickness.

Best regards,

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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