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Antique Safes/Herring Hall Marvin safe door value


safe door face
safe door face  

I was able to salvage this "safe" during remodeling in the Socony-Vacuum Building in downtown Chicago. The building was completed in the late 20's, and all indications during demo lead me to believe this was part of the original build. I put the word safe in quotes, because it is not a safe, per say: it is the safe door and jamb from a walk in safe, the walls of which were constructed of clay fire brick covered with lath and plaster. The entire assembly is about 78 inches tall and 32 inches wide. I have the frame, the hinge bearings, the door, and an extra lock mechanism from another door. The door is about a quarter inch thick and is not insulated. I did not try to solve the combination, but with access to the inside where the dial is fully visible, I don't think it would be too difficult. The engine turned locking bolt mechanism works fine. The door appears to have its original graphics, but was sadly brush painted with a clear varnish of some type, yellowing and dulling the finish. It was scuffed a bit during removal, but not dented, bent, or twisted... closes smoothly and evenly. It is essentially like a prehung door, except it is a safe door. I was going to make a walk in gun safe with it, but my basement remodeling plans have changed. Any idea on a fair selling price is appreciated.


first lets get the nomenclature correct - as unit does NOT have a safe body, it is NOT a safe door.   This would be a light weight, plate steel vault door.

I'll need much better photos to answer some of your questions, but based on the photos that you provided, I would say that this door is easily late 1920's or early 1930's.   As this door is not over 100 years old, it would not be an antique, but it is still collectible.

As far as value, the good news is that you rescued the entire door and door frame.   Without the door frame it is virtually useless.    I've got a door from the early 1900's that I rescued, however it has no frame, which means that I'll have to fabricate the frame and hinges.   As I will be making it for my use, I'm not worried as much about its value, but WITH the frame it is sellable, as opposed to right now, where it is simply wall candy!

Pretty much ALL safes were clear coated with varnish to give them a "glossy" look and to protect any painting or art work.   And yes, varnish DOES need to be replaced occasionally to keep the paint looking fresh.   Check with your local paint supply stores to obtain a good quality varnish remover, but use it very sparingly as you do NOT want to remove the paint also.   you should also have a neutralizer on hand, so that you can neutralize the varnish remover if it is acting to rapidly, or starts to get away from you.   Only work in small portions that you can control.

I would be more than happy to look at it for you but will need photos of everything.   In order to answer specific questions, identify, evaluate or appraise your door, 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, 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 door  If your door 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 door.

Please use as high a resolution as possible so that I can examine details of your door.  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.  

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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

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

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