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Antique Safes/info and value


QUESTION: hello i have recently purchased an old safe,the plaque on the front says:W.MADELEY & SONS.EAGLE WORKS DUDLEY.i know the company was founded in 1897 and folded in 1927 through some research iv done.however i cant find any mention of it on any safe makers listings for that period,and i was wondering to get a value on it and any further info.thanks

ANSWER: Hello Robert,

Thank you for your question.  Scores of small safe makers sprung up during this period, the majority of them in the West Midlands.  Most of them went as quickly as they came and a 30 year life-span was quite typical, with only the bigger names making it post WW2.  The construction of safes also evolved very rapidly during this time and I would need to see a picture of your Madelely safe to be able to comment on it further, although I have to warn you that only those in exceptional condition have any value.

If you wish to send me a picture, it may be easier to send it directly to  Meanwhile, a good way to get a feel for the value of theselate Victorian safes is to keep an eye on prices on eBay.


Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

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QUESTION: cheers mike,just one more question,would the safe have any type of modern day rating insurance wise ie for the storage of valuables.thanks for your speedy replies.Robert

Hi Robert,

Most insurers refer to a list issued by the Association of Insurance Surveyors who suggest cash and jewellery limits on thousands of safes, both current and out of production.  However safes of this age are too old to be listed as they offer very little protection against burglary.  This is understandable as post-Industrial Revolution, commerce was dealing more and more in credit and the main concern was to protect valuable ledgers from loss by fire.  It was not until well into the 20th century before the primary purpose of safes evolved to protect cash and valuables.

Some insurers will give a nominal 1,000 cash cover or 10,000 domestic valuables cover on anything with a lock on it so it is worth enquiring.


Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

Antique Safes

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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

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