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Antique Safes/antique meilinks deposit vault.


QUESTION: I now posses a Meilinks office deposit vault that has been in my family since the late 1800s.  the combination has been lost to the surviving relatives for at least 20 years.  It is currently locked and presumed empty.  It is beautifully adorned with an elaborate almost art deco pin-striping design and is personalized for my great/great grandfather who owned a construction company back in Peoria, Illinois at the turn of the century.  The only numbers visible are on the "tee" handle #13694B. Could you please forward any information on how to obtain the combination.  I assume it has not been changed over the years as it has been passed down directly through the generations.  Any help would be  greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Michael,

As Meilink didn't begin until 1899, the chances of your container being from the late 1800's is slim.    With the serial number you have provided, chances are though that it is early 1900's, though I would need to see it to narrow down a date.

As far as finding a combination for it, you have a couple possibilities.   As manufacturers NEVER published any information concerning serial numbers, combinations or their customers, this information is NOT going to be available.

These leaves you with two alternatives - you can test all of the possible combinations for the lock mounted on your safe, or you can have it opened by a safe technician from a local safe company.

The early Meilink safes used a couple of different locks provided for them by the Eagle Lock Company.  In one of the designs, the lock retracts the bolt work and the handle is a "pull" type handle only.   The second design the handle would turn to retract the bolt work.

Both of these locks have two combination wheel and a drive wheel, and had a 50 number dial.   The dialing sequence is:

3 times right to the first number,
2 times left to the second number,
1 time right slowly until the dial stops - open the door.

This would give you about 2500 possible combinations, which shouldn't take you long to test each of them.   

If your dial has a 100 number dial, then your safe is from a later period and it possibly has a 3 wheel lock with around 1,000,000 possible combinations.

Hope this helps.   If you still can't get it open, then I would recommend taking it to a local safe company (not a locksmith) to have it opened and the combination recovered.

After you get it opened, if you would like it evaluated, I would be happy to look at it for you.

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QUESTION: Based on family history this safe would have to date from close to the turn of the century.  As such I am  interested in an educated opinion of its potential value once a combination has been obtained so I can make an informed decision as to wether or not to have a safe company open it.  I'm not asking for an estimate, just some advice to help with this decision.  Thank you for the info you have provided so far.  It has been helpful.

Hi Michael,

I would be more than happy to look at your little safe, one you have it open and are able to take the necessary photos.   Regardless of if you are looking for an estimate of value or appraisal, or simply an evaluation of the container, I will need ALL of the requested photos.

If you have any specific questions I will also need photos of those areas so that I can try to answer them.

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.  

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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. 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

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 - 2013 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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