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Antique Safes/Date of Cary Safe by Serial Number


Cary Safe
Cary Safe  
Tumbler Mechanism
Tumbler Mechanism  
QUESTION: I recently acquired a Cary Safe, serial# 100256 (on the ball of the handle).  The last digit (6) is about half the size of the other 5 digits.  Is the size of the digit significant?

The tumbler mechanism (see photo) has Y and 17409 stamped on the front and has 4 "rings."

The dimension are approximately: 35H x 25w x 25d

I would like to know approximately when the safe was manufactured and anything else about this particular model that might be of interest.  It is in good functioning condition and fair cosmetic condition.



I would need to actually see your handle to make any comments about the stamping of the serial number, however - in general - there were no size differences

Based on your serial number (100256) the safe would have been made around 1909-1910).  The serial number on the wheel curb (Y-17409) is the serial number of the lock - different manufacturer).
I checked the serial numbers of another safe manufactured around the same time as yours, it's serial number is 100957, and the lock serial number is Y-16819.
While I haven't been able to identify a correlation between the lock serial number and the safe serial numbers yet, I would expect your lock serial number to have been lower than it is.   All this illustrates is that Cary didn't necessarily use the locks in sequential order when installing them on the safes.

The lock is a Yale Y-6, 4 wheel combination lock.

I would like to see much better photos of your safe and lock to be able to answer specific questions that you may have.   I would especially like to see the serial number stamped on the handle ball to verify what you are looking at.

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 12mb 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.

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

Cary Safe Handle
Cary Safe Handle  

Thank you for your prompt and thorough response.

Here is a photo of the handle, showing the last digit of the serial number being almost half the size of the others.  You said that "in general" there were no size differences.  I am just curious if this might mean something or be evidence of something interesting, or if it simply means they used a smaller stamping tool because it was handy.

Thanks, again, for your response.



The number IS the same size as the other numbers, it just wasn't "stamped" straight, meaning that it was only a partial strike.

Sorry but this doesn't mean anything at all!!!   No secret meaning, no hidden compartments, no "Willy Wonka Golden Ticket", it is simply a "mistake"!

If you will look closely at the complete number, you will notice that the six numbers are NOT exactly in line either.  The ONLY thing that this means is that the numbers were simply "HAND" stamped.

If anything, you can take it to indicate that Cary Safe Company "CARED" about the safes they built enough to "hand" make each one.

Sorry, nothing more, nothing less.   It also does not add any value, nor does it take any value away from the safe.

Hope this helps,

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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

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

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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

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