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Antique Safes/old safe i have found in my new house purchase


I have recently purchased a house and found a safe in the kitchen. It measures 45cm x 45cm x 60cm. The front of the safe has a T shaped handle with a key hole next to it with a cover over it saying lever lock. The outside of the safe is a brown colour and the inside green. Inside the safe is a drawer at the bottom that locks.
The inside of the door may give away the secrets or give an idea of the safes history.
It says "manufactured for geo.woodhead & co ld manchester"
"the thistle safe by Phillips and son"

hope you can help

Hello Steve,

Thank you for your question.  In the late Victorian era there were literally dozens of safe makers and although I have not heard of Geo.Woodhead, I do know of the distributor, Phillips and Son.

Mostly these were primitive safes that were predominently designed to keep ledgers safe from fire and their bodies were filled with sand and sawdust.  They were very easy to rip open using simple forcing tools and by 1910 they were already obsolete.  They generally fetch very little but examples in good condition may go for up to 150 on eBay.  There are also many collectors of the brass plates but it seems from what you have said that the plate has been removed.

I maybe able to tell you a little more if I could see a picture of the safe.  If it is easier you can send it to me at


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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