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Marc Safe A
Marc Safe A  
Hi Terry,

I inherited a locked safe.  A relative passed away and took the combination with them.  The safe needs to be opened because it most likely contains important documents.  I have attached pictures of the safe.   The safe is in the south side of Chicago IL.   I򭠤eciding between having a locksmith open it and ruin it in the processes, or having someone find the combination.

I noticed there what looks a serial number on the handle but I seen no manufactures name.

I would be more inclined to have someone open it without destroying it if I knew the value of the safe.

I would also be open to trading the safe for the service of opening it and removing it from the building.  If you think that򳠡 fair trade.   It is on the second floor with no elevator.

Could you

Identify the manufacture.
Tell me approximate value of a safe like this.
Recommend someone to open it.



I'll send each pic in a seperate e-mail

Hi Mark,

I've taken a look at all four of your photos.   Your safe appears to be a Schwab Safe

The Schwab Safe Company was started around 1872 by Leo Schwab, and it continued until it was acquired by Sentry Group (Sentry Safes) in August 2008.   Your safe would be from the late 1800's or early 1900's.

The lock that I would expect to find on this container would be a straight tail piece, with two combination wheels and a drive wheel.

The dialing sequence WOULD depend on who ever last set and recorded the combination, however there are possibly TWO different combinations that will open it up.    One would dial LRL and the other would dial RLR.    Doesn't matter which sequence you use to decode the combination as long as you continue to use the same sequence with the numbers that you find.

The dialing sequence would be:

3 times left to the first number,
2 times right to the second number,
1 time left to the third number - stop and turn handle.

Note:   left is counter clockwise and right is clockwise.   DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.

With a 100 number dial, there are basically 10,000 possible combinations, however if you test every other number, you can narrow it down to about 2500 test combinations.    Set up a spread sheet to list all of the test combinations based on the above dialing sequence.

You should be able to figure out the number for the third wheel (drive wheel) fairly easily, simply turn it either left or right a full revolution while putting slight turning pressure on the handle (clockwise).   You will feel a notch in the wheel.   Test the number by turning the dial in the reverse direction, you should feel it in about the same spot.    This number will be used in the above dialing sequence for EVERY ONE of your test combinations.

If you use all even numbers in your first set and it doesn't work, you can run another spread sheet with all odd numbers, or you can test one wheel on even and one on odd, and of course the last set would be the odd and even number set.    As each set is 2500 possible combinations, the four sets would give you the total 10,000 possibilities.

If you STILL can't get it open, then it might be time to contact a professional safe technician.
NOTE:   I NEVER recommend using a locksmith to open safes, especially antique safes, as they generally do not have the training, expertise or knowledge to open safes without causing excessive damage and/or ruining it.    You wouldn't take your car to a mechanic to have your oil changed if he indicated that he can change the oil but will ruin the engine in the process, similarly you shouldn't have your safe worked on by anyone that might even hint that they can open it but my ruin it.   Anyone skilled will be able to guarantee that it can be opened without damage.

As far as "value" - sorry but I don't do that until the safe is open, so I can get an idea of what it overall condition is.    Locked up, the safe basically has a negative value - that being the cost to open it.    If you have some one open the safe, it should cost between $350 to $500 in the field.    If you can take it in to their shop, the cost may be considerably less.

Before I recommend someone to open it, I think it would be in your best interest (plus more fun) for you to try to open it yourself.    If you don't have the time or inclination to run the test combo's, then let me know where the safe is located (zipcode) and I'll see who I might know or recommend in your area.

Once your safe is open, I would be more than happy to look at it to appraise and/or evaluate it for you.

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 Ė 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 donít 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 donít send me ďcell phoneĒ photos, unless they are very clear and of sufficient resolution.   Also, please donít use online, internet photo drops as most of these also donít 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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