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Antique Safes/front door lock plaque


QUESTION: i have a solid brass plaque that goes over a front door lock.
dimensions 20cm x 13cm
weight 450grams approx
it has the royal coat of arms on the top.
the name of  "Phillips & Son" Birmingham in a circle
with a removable key hole in the shape of a shield in the center that has a sliding cover that goes accross the key hole with "Patent detector lock etched in it.
it appears bright yellow from new and possibly cast. no date.
can you throw some light for me.
i live in Western Australia and it came from a very old door.
many thanks.

ANSWER: Nerys,

Phillips & Son, manufactured safes in the West Bromwich & Birmingham, England areas from about 1860 until around 1920 (WWI).   Started in the late 1860's by John Phillips.

PHILLIPS & SONS (1860’s to 1920’s)  West Bromwich & Birmingham, England
  Phillips & Son of Birmingham started out manufacturing bedding goods and fire resistive safes.    The company prospered from 1890 to  around 1920 when they seemed to have disappeared, either going out of business or being acquired by one of the larger manufacturers.  
The London Gazette, dated 3 May 1895:   “Notice is hereby given that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned John Phillips, Thomas Waterhouse, Harry Philip Phillips and Gerald Albert Phillips carrying on business as Bedstead and Fireproof Safe Manufacturers & Co., at Speedwell Works Sherborne Street in the city of Birmingham under the style or firm of Phillips and Son has been dissolved (by the retirement therefrom of the said John Phillips) as and from the 31st day of December 1894.   All debts due to and owing by the said firm will be received and paid by the said Thomas Waterhouse, Harry Philip Phillips and Gerald Albert Philips who will continue to carry on the business at Speedwell Works Sherborne Street Birmingham under the aforesaid style or firm of Phillips and Son.   Dated this 1st day of May 1895.”

Unfortunately this is about all of the information that I have.   There is no starting date that they began making fire resistive safes, no serial number listings or any other identifying info to help date the safe or the plaque.

Hope this helps,

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QUESTION: did any of the family start a buisness in Australia or just emigrated
here in Narrogin the Wheatbelt range of WA



Sorry but I have no further information concerning this company other than what I posted.

My area of expertise is American made safes from the early 1800's through the mid 1900's.   I've only skimmed the surface on English or European made safes.   I've two other friends on this same site that do specialize in English and European safes, but I'm pretty sure that they are not going to have any more info than I.

We mainly concentrate on the manufacturers and not the individuals, and barely have enough time for research on all of the different companies, patents, etc, etc, so unless the individual made a significant contribution to the industry, we aren't going to spend much time chasing down someone's family tree.

You may want to check in with the Ratner Safe Company to see if they have any history of this company in Australia.
Ratner Safes was established in London UK in 1784 and our Australian Division commenced manufacture in Australia in 1963, serving the Asia/Pacific Region. In 1972 the operation in Australia became a fully owned family Company.

Ratner Safes Pty, Ltd,
12 Longview Court Thomastown
Victoria 3074 AUSTRALIA
Telephone: 03 9465 7833
Facsimile: 03 9464 0828

Hope this helps you with your research.

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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

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