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Antique Safes/Hobbs & Co . Safe


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hobbs & co safe  

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safe hobbs & co  
I was given a safe from somebody in London. I am quite interested in the metal plate on the safe, which is engraved HOBBS & Co. PATENTS. LONDON. Also the plate cover the key hole engraved PROCRESS "A" QUALITY. I am not sure what does it mean, is A a top quality or they will have different grade of quality safe?
I am interested in knowing about the history and the quality of this safe. How old this safe and how's estimate value? is that the antique safe?

the size of the size is 19" x19' x25" outside.

I wondered if we need to put a metal plate underneath the safe when we install in the room. how to install it is better? is that ok just put in on the floor without fixed on the metal plate on floor.


Hi Daisy,

First off I must disclose that European and English safes are not my area of expertise.   I would recommend your contacting two other individuals on this same site that are both in England and experts on these safes.

Allexperts / Antique Safes    Tom Gordon or Mike Palmer.

I can give you a little history though to give you an idea of how old your safe is.

The "Hobbs" referred to on your safe was Alfred Charles Hobbs, and American Locksmith.    Born October 7th 1812.    His father died while he was a boy, leaving the family destitute, so he got little schooling.    Alfred began working on farms to help with his family income at the age of 10.   By 22, he had worked successively as a dry goods clerk, wood carver, carriage body maker, sailor, tinplate worker, harness-maker and glass cutter.    The last occupation suited him and he took out several patents on glass door knobs.   As part of the business he became acquainted with several lock makers.    Following on his successes, he became partners in a Boston lock making business called "Jones & Hobbs", but he soon sold out his share to take a job with Edwards & Holman - a safe making firm, who had just opened a lock and safe store in New York.  
At Edwards & Holman, Hobbs finally received the education he needed.   During his time employed by this company he carefully studied the construction of locks.    Hobbs worked for Edwards & Holman until around 1840 when he became a salesman for the "Day & Newell Company" - one of America's foremost lock makers.    Here he earned a reputation as an expert lock picker.   He found the best way to sell his companies locks, was to pick the locks of his competitors.   During the next 10-15 years he visited nearly every section of the United States, and was kept busy accepting challenges and opening locks, however it was his exploits in London that made him most famous.
Bramah, a celebrated lock maker who began his career during the late 1700's, had on exhibition in his window a lock of his own production, which had a standing offer of two hundred guineas to anyone who could open it without a key.    Mr. Hobbs went to England to sell his own locks and took his tools with him.    Mr. Hobbs studied the Bramah lock from the street, procured the tools he needed and then entering the shop, asked a clerk to show him the lock.    The clerk handed it to him, turned around  and as he did so, heard a click.    Wheeling about quickly, he was astounded to see Mr. Hobbs standing with the lock in his hands open.    The clerk summoned his employer, who would NOT acknowledge that the lock had been opened fairly until after Mr. Hobbs had accomplished the feat a second time before a committee, after which he presented Hobbs with the reward of two hundred guineas.    The Bramah lock had remained secure for over 50 years before Mr. Hobbs.
With this money and the invaluable publicity he had received, Hobbs went into the business as a lock maker in Cheapside, London.    The company started in 1851, and was formally registered as Hobbs & Co., in 1852, but by 1855 it had become Hobbs, Ashley and Company.   Soon the name again changed to Hobbs, Ashley and Fortescue.     In 1860 Hobbs retuned to America, after Ashley's death.    He had no problem selling the thriving business to John Mathias Hart, with the stipulation that his name should always head the company, so it became Hobbs, Hart and Company in 1860.
Alfred Hobbs died in 1891.

So bottom line what ALL of the above info gives us (besides a little history) are some dates, between which your safe would have been built.    Dates that your safe were made between would be the 1851 to 1855.

I'm sorry that I can't answer the question concerning the reference to the "Progress A Quality", I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the patents or not.

Safes which are over 100 years old are considered antique, so this would include this one.   As far as answering questions about the value, while I can address what it might be worth in the US, specifically the west coast, I can't give you a value for England.     Unfortunately one of the problem with British made safes, is that this would be considered a "standard" type safe.    During the 1800's there were hundreds of small safe makers in four English cities.    Pretty much they all received training in similar fashions, from the same safe makers, which means that ALL of them were making very similar safes, with the few differences being the locks used, the handles on the safe and the key hole cover or plaque.    Because they are all so similar and because there are so many of them still available, it artificially lowers the value - throughout the UK.    In general, the majority of these safes seem to go for 150-200 British pounds  -  about $240 to $320 US, far below values for safes made in the US.    US manufacturers made very different products, and these differences are what generate the value because of limited quantities available.

I would suggest that you contact some local antique dealers or auction houses to find out what similar safes might sell for.    

At a minimum, you now have a great story to go with your safe, which (in my opinion) adds to its value and "sell-ability"!

Hope this helps,  

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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

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