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Antique Safe
Antique Safe  
QUESTION: We have an old safe (pic attached) that came with the purchase of our 1920s colonial house.  We do not have the combo and are trying to figure out if we can get into it without ruining the safe.  Prior owners have no knowledge of the combo for the safe or its contents.  It has been painted over and we do not see any manufacture info on the outside.  It bears a number on the turn handle - of 90073.  Any thoughts on what type of safe this is and our best approach for getting into it?  I have my house on the market now and do not want to leave without knowing if anything is in the safe!  Many thanks for your input.

ANSWER: Joy,

Unless your house was built prior to 1776 it couldn't be a "Colonial House", as we haven't been a Colony since we declared our Independence at that time, though it may be a Colonial STYLE house.

Unfortunately as many of the safes built during the early 1900's were very similar, and as yours has been painted over, losing any of the manufacturers markings, we won't be able to ID what you have until after it is opened.   This safe could be one of several different manufacturers.

Generally people DO NOT abandon safes with stuff inside safes, so the chances of finding anything inside the safe is probably slim to none (paper clips, dust, etc.)  On the other hand what the safe DOES represent is a unique selling opportunity if it is open and working.   For instance if a prospective buyer is looking at two similar houses in your area, which are also similar in price, the one having a working (possibly antique safe) in it WOULD present a much better buy.   Unfortunately, you also probably don't have time to do any restoration work on the safe which WOULD significantly increase its value.

Cost to open and repair the safe, recovering the combination should be around $350-$500.   Once the safe is open, I would be happy to appraise the safe for you, and actually ID it once it is open.

I recommend that you contact a local safe company (not a locksmith) to have your safe opened.  Unfortunately as you have waited until the last minute (placing your house on the market already) options are limited.   If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I know in your area.

Sorry, I can't be of more help at this point, but bottom line, we need the safe open - so that you can see what is inside, and so that we can get the necessary photos so that I can ID it for you.

The following is a list of the photos that I need to ID your safe:

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:  andy@securitysafeusa.com

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.




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

QUESTION: Understood - colonial style house.  My zip is 07079.  I would appreciate any recommendations you may have for a safe company.  Thanks very much for the quick response.

Answer
Joy,

My first recommendation would be:

Precision Lock & Safe      About 35 miles away
516-616-0854     Elaad Israeli
240 Jericho Turnpike
Floral Park, NY  11001

Most safe techs travel so this isn't a great distance.   My service area is 200 miles wide by 600 miles long for instance.

Elaad, not only is a very capable safe technician but he also does restoration work on older and antique safes, so you can be assured that he will NOT ruin the safe or damage it when opening it up.

A second company that is also nearby would be:

Bill's Lock, Safe & Security     About 35 miles away
(973) 697-1011     Bill Kushnick
88 Wildwood Rd
Oak Ridge, NJ  07438

I can't personally vouch for the work that Bill does, and he does not specialize in antique/collectible safes.   He is a trained safe technician though.

of the two, my personal recommendation would be Elaad - under the circumstances he would be the better choice.   Also if he can't ID your safe while on site, then you can send the requested photos and I would be happy to look at it for you.

Hope this helps,

Antique Safes

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

Organizations
Safecrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
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

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