You are here:

Antique Safes/Mosler Safe Identification and Info

Advertisement


Question
Mosler safe
Mosler safe  
Mosler tags
Mosler tags  
QUESTION: I recently purchased a storage building packed with old "stuff" including this Mosler safe. It's a double sided safe with a round door on the left and a rectangular door (two hinges) on the right. Approximate dimension are 36" wide by 22" deep by 32" tall. Of course I don't have the combinations and have searched both the safe and area to no avail. I took the right side door home to my garage and have determined its combination but haven't been able to try it on the other door in hopes that the combinations are the same (oh, to be so lucky). I've also tried the 50/25/50 combo without success. I cannot find a serial number on the handles or metal tags. The patent number tag has the most recent patent dated from 1936 so I'm assuming it's newer than that. It appears it was sold from a Mosler safe dealer in Kansas City and there is a number on that tag: OS 198. I've searched hundreds of Mosler safe pictures on Google Images and can't find anything close. In closing - do you know anything about it? With a few parts, it could be put back in pretty good shape. Is it worth the effort? Thanks!

ANSWER: Larry,

Doesn't matter if you found a serial number or not - ALL mosler safes manufactured after the 1960's either had the "50-25-50" combo, or a single number "50" combination.    The "original" combination for the safe would be set WHEN the safe was sold to the first customer.    There are no records of this type of information.

It is a good guess, to try the combination on the larger square door on the round door.   Many owners will set them the same.    As this particular safe was probably used by a market of some type, chances are the combinations were NOT set the same.   The square door was for use by the regular store personnel, and was where the daily operating tills and cash would be stored.   The other section was the depository, where cash to be sent to the bank would be placed.   The owner would have been the only one with this combination.    This container may also have a secondary door inside, with a dual custody key lock.    The manager and an armored car service would have the keys to this door.    When armored arrived, they would present their key, and the manager would open the inner door to retrieve the deposits to send to the bank.
This Round door chest WAS the security chest for this safe.

If the combination for the square door doesn't work, then your options include trying all of the 1,000,000 possible combinations for this lock, or having the safe opened by a local safe companies, safe technician.
NOTE:   I never recommend using locksmiths for safe work as they generally do not have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes.

If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zipcode) and I'll see who I know in your area.


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

Mosler Hinges & Door
Mosler Hinges & Door  
QUESTION: Andy,

Thanks for the quick response! Because of some of the other equipment this safe was surrounded by, it might have come from either a doctor's clinic or an auto body shop. From the condition, I think I'd lean to the body shop.

Just a few follow-up questions:

1. The hinges are pretty worn. There has been some flattening of the brass hinge knuckles where they supported the weight of the door and the pin holes are elongated and warbled out, too. The large slotted brass screws that attached the hinge wings to the door have been attacked, and while still functional (and probably removable), are pretty mangled. Are parts even available or would I have to these repaired or some new ones machined?

2. Can you hazard a guess on the model or the approximate age of the safe?

3. Without asking for a specific value, do you think the safe is worth some time and money to restore? Or does it have more worth as scrap metal. I'm always loath to destroy something from the past and would rather bring it back to decent condition.

Thanks again for your time and expertise!

Answer
Larry,

parts are not available and would have to be manufactured.   While some lock and safe companies do salvage some locks and handles, generally we do not keep hinges, castors, bolt work, etc. etc. etc.
The market is simply too small to justify storing all of these old parts for years and years.

Unfortunately, these safes have no commercial or retail value, and unless you find a small market that wants to use an obsolete safe where parts are not going to be available, then it isn't worth while.
On the other hand, if YOU are repairing the safe for YOUR use, and you like it, then there is no such thing as too much cost to restore.

Bottom line as much as I would like to see every safe restored and in useable condition, there is a break even point at which repair costs out weigh useable value.

If the round door chest was open, and operational, however cost to open & repair that chest, as well as the labor to get it useable and/or operational isn't going to show any cash benefit.    If you decide to make it operational, rather than repairing the hinges and the square door, I would recommend installing some nice wooden cabinets or a wine storage locker, and using the safe for storage of your more expensive liquers.
Just think, of it as a conversation piece that everyone coming to your house is going to talk about.   How does that commercial go:    Cost of wine $12 a bottle, plate of cheese $5, look on your friends face when you pull the liquer out of the chest - priceless!  

Antique Safes

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


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

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.