You are here:

Antique Safes/Corey Safe


I have an old Corey Safe that has only 3 sets of numbers i.e.: 12,34,56.  From what I've read it sounds like there should be another set of numbers.  If not, what is the correct order that I use, to the left to the right, etc.  to open the safe.  Have tried every combination I can think of and won't open.  Thanks for any help you can give.

Hi Susan,

There are only three reasons that a safe lock will not open, they are (in order):
1.  Incorrect dialing sequence, Operator errors,
2.  Incorrect combination, Wrong numbers,
3.  Mechanical problems.

The first thing that we need to do is to actually ID what you have.    I have no references for any safe Manufacturer going by the name "Corey Safe Company", however I do have a listing for a "C.E. Allen of Middletown, NJ, who worked on salary, as a sales agent for the Corey Safe Company", in the mid 1890's.

While this doesn't mean that they were a manufacturer, it could simply have been a distributorship or a smaller safe company selling safes.

So in order for me to answer your question concerning the lock operation for your safe, I will need to figure out what you have.

Note:   Lock makers made 2, 3, 4, 5 and even 6 wheel locks, so the quantity of "numbers sets" for your lock WILL depend on what you actually have.   This description, while accurate for the combination, doesn't actually describe the lock internals.   For instance on a 2 wheel lock, you would have two combination wheels AND a drive wheel,  On a 3 wheel lock, you would have three combination wheels AND a drive wheel.

As far as yours only having three sets of numbers, this would be correct for many safes if the lock installed is a three wheel lock.   What you ARE missing is the final sequence.

Assuming that you only have a two wheel lock, the dialing sequence might be:

3 times left to the first number,
2 times right to the second number,
1 time left to the third number (or until the dial stops) - turn handle to open.

If you have a three wheel lock, the dialing sequence might be:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops - turn handle to open.

NOTE:  Depending on the lock installed on the safe, the sequence could be either LRLR or RLRL.  Left is counter clockwise, Right is clockwise.   Do not count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.

Hopefully you can see that with out knowing WHAT you have, there are too many variables to give you an exact answer.   Also, as you didn't actually provide the combination that you have, AS WRITTEN, I can't try to decode it for you.

Per your question, it appears that you cannot currently open the safe yet.   If the above instructions don't help get it open, then I understand that you may not be able to send me all of the photos requested (below) to help me ID the safe, but do your best.

If you still can't get the safe open, then it may be necessary to contact a safe technician from a local safe company to have them open the safe and recover the actual combination for you.   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.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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:

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.

Antique Safes

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

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

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

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

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]