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Antique Safes/old safe, interested in information; Age, maker, value, ect.


Hello, how are you?
I was fortunate enough to have come across an old safe someone decided to throw away, and unfortunate enough to think I might be able to pick it up :P This thing probably weighs nearly 300lbs! I have many questions about it and hope you might be able to shed some light on my mysterious salvage safe!

I have taken many pictures as per your advice, but can only attach one to this question. I will be more than happy to attach the rest in an email when the time comes!

Now, on to what I DO know about my latest discovery!
The dimensions of the piece are 20.25 inches wide/23.5 inches high/24 long.
The handle, key, and visible decor seem to be maybe turn of the century-ish (I'm thinking more like 20s, pre depression type item?).

It is a key only lock.

It has a tag on the inside indicating it has seen work from a company called Time Lock and Automatic Lock, J.M. Mossman N.Y. The date on the tag however has been worn, and is not completely legible. It looks like multiple tags have been inside the safe, maybe having been worked on by multiple people over time?

It has as many as four paint layers in different places on the safe over the original paint. The original paint seems to be white(maybe silver, but doubtful) with black and gold(maybe yellow or olive green?) patterns.

I found the hinge to be interesting as I can't seem to find images of safes with decorative hinges at all. This safe has a clover-like shaped hinge on the door side, and a fairly regular looking oval hinge on the body side.

As interesting as this all seemed to me, I was very sad when I realized something was very irregular about this safe. I believe it has been cracked, and 'fixed'...and poorly so. The trim has been removed on the left side (if facing the beastly thing). There is a triangular cut shape toward the center rear of that same panel, and frankly shotty weld and file marks around the intersections.
Looking at the locking mechanism on the interior, I believe it to be a replacement lock for the original. Its appears to be stainless steel where as the safe itself feels more like solid steel or a leaded steel (I have a feeling it may have lead content simply due to the unique texture of the steel, but I could be very wrong).
I have not found any visible makers mark or any engraving to help me otherwise identify the piece. Possibly it is covered by layer upon layer of paint, or was simply painted on to begin with?

I also feel it of merit to mention that I did find this piece in the Toledo, Ohio area, and have found similar-ish safes by the maker Meilink, though nothing key-only, nothing with decorative hinges, and nothing white.

I am curious to know the following:
-What company made this piece?
-Roughly when was it made?
-Are my 'cracked' suspicions correct?
-Do you know what a restoration cost might be and/or entail on a piece like this?
-Is it possible to say what value this safe might still have?  
-Are there any specific conditions in which it should be stored to prevent further damage?
-Is it safe (pardon the pun!) to assume this piece had wheels at one point? I can't really make out any marks where they may have been, but didn't study the base like I did the rest as it is so heavy I can't actually tip it over myself!
-Any other historical information that one might deem notable or interesting is also greatly appreciated! I love digging up history!

Thanks so much for your time, and I look quite forward to your response!



Great detective work but sorry it is NOT a Meilink.   It does appear to be a Pittsburg Safe, which manufactured safes from about 1902 until about 1913.    I am curious to see what lock is installed though, as I don't have any records of this company doing a "key only" safe.    My suspicions are that this lock was retrofitted on to the safe at some point.

I'm also familiar with the J.M. Mossman Company.   John Malcolm Mossman was born in New York in 1846.   His father (Malcolm Mossman) had been a foreman for the well known safe maker Silas Herring.   John had left school at the age of 12 to work with his father at a newly established safe and lock business, however two years later his father died.   John Mossman and his mother maintained the business for five years before combining with another well known safe maker, William Terwilliger.   John was sent to the Chicago factory where at 19 he was made foreman of over 200 workmen.   Terwilliger & Co. failed in 1876, John returned to New York and found another business partner, founding Cady & Mossman in 1877.   Cady died the following year and Mossman continued alone, though bringing his brother William into the business.   John M. Mossman died on March 6th, 1912.  

David & John Erroll are currently the curator's of the John M. Mossman Lock Collection, which I believe is on display on the second floor of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesman building, on West 44th Street, in New York.   Much of the collection can be found in the book American Genius

I share your regrets about the shoddy workmanship, however all can be repaired, assuming that it isn't too damaged.   The "steel" is probably cast iron, or rolled sheet steel, but I doubt that it is solid steel as the weight would be several thousands of pounds, though your estimate of 300 lbs is probably way light anyway.

As far as "restoration" costs, it really depends on who does it.   If you are able to make it a DIY project, then you can keep the cost down.   If you have a professional do it, then you could easily be talking thousands of dollars.   You could also discus the project with a local art department at a local college to see if they would be interested in taking it on as a restoration project - at worst they might have a talented student who would do the paint work at a reasonable price.

as far as looking at the safe, I will need photos sent directly to me, NOT this web site.

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.  

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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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