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Antique Safes/2 antique safes restoration/value or sale


Diebold door
Diebold door  

E.R Morse exterior
E.R Morse exterior  

I have 2 safes that I believe to be antiques.  The 1st is a Diebold Vault/safe, the inside of the door has 3 movements and "Diebold Safe & Lock, Canton, Ohio" etched in the glass.  The exterior door has a multi day lock mechanism and it has 2 interior compartments with combination locks (I am told that one is a 3 wheel and the other is a 4 wheel). the bottom door is off the hinges and the top is closed, my Dad thinks he has the combination.  I think that it is a Diebold I an interested in finding out more about it.  The inside of the exterior door looks like a piece of art.  It at least 39" tall, 23" deep and I am not sure of the width possibly 29" and sits on 4 casters.  I need to move it before the end of the month, as I am selling my house.  I would love to keep it and possibly restore it.    Do you have any recommendations on how to move it?  If I can't afford to move and restore it then I would have to consider selling it.  Do you know of any place in Massachusetts area that does restoration or purchase & sales.  I have several photos that I could send to your email for more info.  
The 2nd is a smaller safe on casters, marked E.R. Morse, Boston on the exterior of the door it is a key lock.  The door is open, but I do not have the key.  I am interested in selling this one but do not know where to begin.  Again, I need to either move or sell these by the end of October.

Hi Christine,

Both very nice safes though they BOTH need extensive restoration work.

The Diebold is what we term an "automatic".    When the time lock is set, and the door is closed, the lock would automatically lock, and not unlock until the time had expired.    Problem with this feature is that the owner would need to be present when it unlocked, as ANYONE could open the door after the lock opens!!!!
This is considered a Bankers Style safe.      I would imagine that it also has several locking interior compartments.

The second Company was known as the Morse Safe Company - or E.R. Morse.    This company manufactured safes from the early 1860's through the mid 1880's.   Owner was Enoch R. Morse who also represented the town of Somerville, MA in their state legislature around 1876.
Enoch R. Morse was listed in the 1850 Census as a Locksmith so his career began some years before he began manufacturing safes.

Ok, lets see if I can address some of your problems or questions -

If you need to move it before the end of the month, then you have pretty much waited too long.    You should have been dealing with this issue (who to move it and where to move it to) several months ago.

Possibly the nearest companies to you, that I would recommend for safe restoration work are going to be in the New York area.    Both do good work, however cost to move the containers, and cost to restore them is not going to be cheap.    Contact them both to discuss options.    Neal's brother Richard owns Empire Safe Company in New York, and they DO have the capabilities of moving the safes - though cost and distance may be an issue.

Precision Lock & Safe, Inc
Floral Park, NY
516-616-0854          Dov or Elaad Israeli
Accu-Safes Inc
Plainview, NY
516-752-3893          Neal Krazlowski

As far as moving your safes I would recommend that you contact:

Lock Defeat Technology
Hanover, MA 02339
781-871-4346          Philip Shearer

Phil may not have the equipment to move your safes, but he will probably have a better idea who you should contact to have them moved.

Fortunately for you, Phil is also one of the best safe crackers on the east coast so he can deal with any issues you have as far as not being able to open the safes, combination recovery or possibly making keys for the container.

Selling safes can take months or years even.    There is no network in place to advertise or to auction these items off on a regular basis.    The market is simply to small to make it worth while.    Marketing these old safes, just like selling anything requires advertising, advertising, advertising.     Right now you either need to move them to a storage facility until you can deal with them, or you are possibly going to wind up paying someone to haul them off.    Selling them by the end of October is pretty much a dream at this point.

You can contact local antique dealers to see if you can put them in, on a consignment basis, or a better option would be to try to move them through an auction house.    You are STILL going to have to deal with moving them, however the auction house will deal with all of the advertising, and warehousing of the container until it is sold.    They will take a hefty commission though, usually up to about 30% of the sales price.

If you would like me to look at the containers to evaluate or appraise their current condition, I would be more than happy to.    I will need to see much better photos of each safe individually.

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, unless they are very clear and of sufficient resolution.   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.

Sorry I can't be of more help at this time, but hopefully this is a start for you.    Don't waste any time, start calling the individuals listed above to discuss your options and/or look for other means of transportation.  

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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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