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Antique Safes/Identify manufacturer


Safe 2
Safe 2  
Safe 1
Safe 1  
QUESTION: I recently purchased this safe and would like to know the manufacturer?  I would also like to restore it and wondering if you might have any information about artwork that may have been on it?  The previous owner said the combination was lost so they had it drilled and replaced dial. Current combination is also unknown so they taped the dial so it can't be accidentally locked.  The dimensions are 43" tall (with wheels) x 30" W x 27" D.  The locking mechanism says Sargent & Greenleaf group 2 but may not be original. Do you have any information about what the original dial may have looked like?  Thank you!

ANSWER: Randy, there were several makers that used the cast roping trim so that doesn't help.  Group 2 locks were much later so that's not original.  Good pictures of the wheel skirting and door handle will help.  Also removing the existing lock dial and ring should show the original screw mounting pattern on the inside and outside of the door.  Carefully stripping the newer paint off the door is really the way to find out about the paint.  Although if the maker can be determined, then other existing paint jobs could be examined.  There is a pretty good chance the original lock and dial can be found.  Doug

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QUESTION: Hi Doug, I've seen a lot of safes with rope trim but this is a little different and I haven't seen this style.  It has a little swirl on each turn.  I'm including pictures of the wheels and handle for you.  How hard would it be for me (novice) to remove the dial?

Thank you for your help!

ANSWER: Randy, from what I can tell it is a MacNeale Urban of Cincinnati and a fairly early one, say 1870's.  Good catch on the roping distinction.  The original lock would have been made by MacNeale Urban.  Sometimes the spline keys the pin the dial spindle to the drive wheel will pull out easily.  But tight ones can be a bear and the outer leg (flag) is easily broken off, making removal even tougher.  I usually work them out slowly with a pair of dull diagonal side cutters.  Doug   

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QUESTION: Doug, I would like to purchase an original lock and dial.  Do you have one or know where I might get one?  Am I correct in thinking I would need one with letters instead of numbers?

Yes it will be an alphabet dial.  I don't have any MacNeale locks and don't know of any but I am sure there are some out there.  Those safes were not widely sold here in Cleveland.  Does seem to have been popular out West.  First though you need to get down to the mounting plate to help ID what model would have been used.  I may be able to you out there.  Doug  

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Doug MacQueen


This unusual and highly innovative safe from the later 1800's is a Corliss. William, the much younger brother of George Corliss of steam engine fame, spent several years perfecting this design and it was first displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia U.S. Centennial Exhibition. I do extensive patent research helping me in the study of antique U.S. safes and safe locks. Repairs and part making for antique U.S. safes of the early to mid 1800's, both key and combination. Also the study of early round door chest designs up to and including cannonball safes of the early 1900's.


40 years in the lock and safe trade with a stint in bank service work. Openings, repairs and moving of safes of all types.

Charter member Safe and Vault Technicians Association SAVTA, National Safemans Association NSO, National Antique Safe Association NASA. No longer current.

SAVTA monthly magazine

CMS (Certified Master Safecracker- NSO) and CPS (Certified Professional Safe Technician - SAVTA)

Awards and Honors
2nd place national combination manipulation contest 1986 and now in 2016 1st place

Past/Present Clients

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