Antique Safes/Safe


Inside door
Inside door  
QUESTION: I have a AM steam safe from the 1860s with the water filled panels in it. I can't find a lot of info on it so must be rare please help if possible    Thank you

ANSWER: Justin, the only one I have ever seen is in a warehouse here in Cleveland and is very similar to yours.  And I think another one was posted on this forum.  American Steam Safe bought out the Denio and Roberts Safe Co. of Boston, probably early in the 1860's and in turn was bought out by George Damon around 1872, from what I've found, so only in business about 10 years.  The safes are based on patents awarded to a Rufus Sanborn of Wisconsin.  He had several patents in the 1860's and although no mention is made of American Steam Safe, they definitely relate to these safes.  Check out Patent no. 63,311 to get some particulars on his design.  I believe I have also seen somewhere a reference made to the Sanborn Steam Safe being made by AM Steam Safe.  So they are rare and this is about all I know about them.  Doug

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Your the man.  Thanks again.  Well u probably get this question a lot and for that I'm sorry but how would you put a value on this?  Everything is intact combination works good

Since American Steam safes seem to be rare, that will increase its value to some collectors, but not all. In my mind, it's real value is in the novel method of fire proofing using the water jackets, but again that may not be of any considerable importance to many potential buyers. So the combination of rarity, novelty and vintage would put it at a couple thou minimum, to the right buyer.  Finding that person may take some time though.  Doug  

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Doug MacQueen


This unusual and highly innovative safe from the later 1800's is a Corliss. William, the much younger brother of George Corliss of steam engine fame, spent several years perfecting this design and it was first displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia U.S. Centennial Exhibition. I do extensive patent research helping me in the study of antique U.S. safes and safe locks. Repairs and part making for antique U.S. safes of the early to mid 1800's, both key and combination. Also the study of early round door chest designs up to and including cannonball safes of the early 1900's.


40 years in the lock and safe trade with a stint in bank service work. Openings, repairs and moving of safes of all types.

Charter member Safe and Vault Technicians Association SAVTA, National Safemans Association NSO, National Antique Safe Association NASA. No longer current.

SAVTA monthly magazine

CMS (Certified Master Safecracker- NSO) and CPS (Certified Professional Safe Technician - SAVTA)

Awards and Honors
2nd place national combination manipulation contest 1986 and now in 2016 1st place

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