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Antique Safes/John Tann safe box


Dear Mike, Apologies if you think we have repeated the question. You said you would like to see the key - so have sent a photo of it. We would like to know how to oil the lock, hence the question about graphite?  Many thanks. Peter

Hi Peter, no problem. I have sent the pictures to an old friend who retired as Technical Director of John Tann. I have asked for his comments.  Meanwhile graphite powder is an ideal lubricant.
Mike Palmer FSyI

Hi Peter,

My old friend has resonded.  He says the chest is a List 1, but can't tell me a lot more other than manufacture seems to have started around 1866.  The Walbrook address covers the period from 1857 until 1870. The key is to a 'guarded lever' lock patented in 1843.

That's about all we can tell you but we both agree it is a lovely thing!


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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