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Antique Safes/need info on very unusual safe


Antique safe
Antique safe  
Please see attached image.  This safe stands about 5ft. tall, and is very intricately painted to look like a wood chest but is solid steel.  Believed to be European.  Each 'knob' is actually part of the combination and the numbers on the dials are disguised.  Once combination is correct, two of the dials must be turned in unison to expose the key lock.  What can you tell me about this safe?
Thank you in advance!

Jason, admittedly I am no expert on European made safes from the 1800's, but I would bet big money that is what you have.  I have done quite a bit of nosing around on Euro sites and collected more than a few pictures of safes from this period.  It is certainly very similar to many I have seen from there.  Anyway, at first glance yours is different than most but in other ways similar.  Trick moves of obvious movable parts but more often not so obvious movable parts is found to be a very common feature found in earlier (pre 1800's) European made safes and even  found sometimes in both U.S. and Euro safes from the early to mid 1800's.  In the latter 1800's, these trick moves virtually disappear in U.S. safes and most likely also those made in Europe.  Far more safes were made in the 1800's than in 1700's, both here and in Europe, and when I say far more, I am speaking exponentially in terms of numbers.  I doubt yours is from the 1700's, although I would love to be proven wrong.  Skeuomorphic, in this case, metal painted to look like wood was very popular here and in Europe in the 1800's.  If you could post here or email (macslocks at gmail dot com) me more info and closer outside/ inside pictures of the door I might be able to help further. Oh and that is one great safe you have! 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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