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Antique Safes/j tann safe date


hi mike
      just got my self an old safe which I have now got keys for,i have give it a coat of paint and wondered what date it is and is it a fire resistant safe and what material was used in the walls of the safe. the numbers on the round plate on the back of the door is 61922 and there is numbers on one of the bolts that go into the safe wall is 2239.thank you for your time.


Hi Robert,

Thank you for your question.  The number stamped on the end of the moving bolt is likely to be the serial number.  If this is correct, it was made in the year 1969 to 1870.  I would need to see a picture of the safe to know what type of construction it is and would also be interested to see a picture of the plate on the back of the door.  Safes of this age were filled with sand, sawdust and alum crystals.  When heated the alum converted to moisture and damped down the sand/sawdust mix to prevent the interior of the safe heating beyond 212 degrees F (the boiling temperature of water).  However, over so many years, this primitive fire proofing material will have compressed and leaked leaving large unprotected voids in the body through which heat can readily be conducted.  Consequently safes of this age are totally obsolete and should not be used to secure cash, valuables or important documents.

If you would like to send a couple of pictures to me, I can tell you a little more.  One picture should show the door closed so I can see the entire safe, and one should be with the door open so I can see the door thickness and the bolt-work.  If it is easier, you can send them directly to


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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