You are here:

Antique Safes/John Lowe Safe




I'm clearing out the garage of the house that I bought last year. In there is an old safe that's seen better days externally but after a bit of WD40 I was able to open with the key (which I found elsewhere)

It's marked Fire & Thief Proof - John Lowe Manchester and inside there are 2 drawers (that I don't have keys for but are open).

The external rust is only surface so it could be restored I guess though given its weight & likely shipping costs I was wondering if it's actually worth anything other than scrap value?

Dimensions are 66 cm high x 44.5 cm deep x 51 cm wide.

Hello Darren,

Thanks for your question and the pictures.  The safe is described as 'square cornered' as it was fabricated from mild steel sheets rivetted to an angle iron frame, hence the sharp 90 degree corners.  This type of construction was already obsolete by 1890 so your safe is very ancient.  The weight comes from the walls being filled with sand and sawdust to provide some basic level of fire proofing.

Sadly it has very little value.  Scrap dealers usually won't accept them because the sand and sawdust makes such a mess of their yards.  There are collectors of these old safes - they like to refurbish them to a veryn high standard and sell them on.  To get some idea of prices, take a look for antique safes on eBay.

Best regards,

Mikew Palmer FsyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

Antique Safes

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]