Antique Safes/safe value
Good afternoon, I have a safe made by Farrel Herring & Co.. The safe has a key mechanism called "Grasshopper" because the key shoots out into your hand when locking. I want to sell the safe and was wondering what the safe is worth. I understand that the Grasshopper is pretty desirable by collectors. The number on the key and knob is 3323. Thank you in advance for any information you can give me.
Yes I'm very familiar with the safe manufacturer's and the lock. As far as it being desirable by "collectors" there really isn't a large group of collectors around, if there were values would be much higher and every safe would have plenty of potential buyers.
The fact is, in general, the majority of people who have an antique safe, may only have one or two, as this is all that they have room for. By definition a "collector" is someone who has a "COLLECTION" of items - in this case safes. The few safe collectors that are around, are generally very specific in what they are looking for.
I'm not sure where you got the info about a particular safe being "more desirable" than another type of safe as it simple isn't true. There are people looking for safes who desire a particular type, like a cannon ball, or a bankers model, etc. etc. etc. The only thing unique about your safe "IS" the lock, and unless you are going to strip it out of the lock and make it available to a lock collector, then it is simply part of the safe.
Unfortunately, this "IS" a buyers market. There are many fewer buyers than there are people who would like to sell their old safes, so the market tends to be lower than we would like to see. While having a unique lock does add to the overall value of your safe - slightly - it isn't going to be nearly the amount that you are obviously hoping for.
Unless your safe has a very unique, documented history to go with it, then it is simply going to have to get in line with all of the other antique and old safes which are currently available.
I would be more than happy to look at your safe to evaluate it for you, however I will need photos.
Please NOTE: I will be on vacation over the next two weeks and will not be answering emails after tomorrow, so I would recommend your waiting until after the first week in November to send me all of the photos requested below.
Ok, first I'll start off with basic history. While your safe may indicate that it is a Farrel, Herring & Company safe, it was actually made in the Herring factory in New York. Farrel's factory was in Philadelphia. Herring & Farrel were very good friends with business relations going back to the 1850's. While they began working much more closely together around the early 1860's they didn't formally incorporate the names until 1869. They used the two names together until around 1885 when it began being known as Herring & Company. Both of these companies and their factories were part of the 1892 merger that became Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Company.
The "Grasshopper" lock on many herring safes was actually made by William Hall, with a patent date of 1 August, 1848. It was manufactured by Herring, under license from Mr. Hall. Herring used this lock until around 1869 when he began production of a combination lock designed by Dexter in both single and double dial formats.
The ONLY Farrel safes which had the grasshopper lock, were made at the Herring factory and sold by Farrel or one of their sales agents.
Having both the Herring and Farrel name on a Herring Safe with the Hall grasshopper lock, would indicate that your safe was built between around 1865 until they began using Dexter's lock in 1869. Unfortunately there are no factory records available to indicate when any given safe (or serial number) was originally manufactured. So this is going to be about as close as we can get.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.