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Antique Safes/floor safe



I recently purchased a home in Northern California that is over 100 years old.  In the utility room there is a vintage safe that has been painted over, so I can find no Manufacturer information.  

It is a "large" floor safe measuring 41"H x 29"W x 24"Deep on 5" casters.  I assume it is Iron/Steel with (presumably welded?) panels on the sides and top.  it has a combination lock with Alpha characters A-Z.  I am reluctant to try and remove any of the paint, as I assume it will also remove any original paint/foil/type.  It does however appear (from small revealed areas) to be black with the gold border around the edges.  There is an engraved number on the center of the dial, which I assume is the serial number.

Any thoughts on where I might start in researching?


ANSWER: Hi Matt,

First I'll start off with the word "vintage" as it is one of my pet peeves.    The only other word that is more inappropriately used would be "patina".    Vintage is the age of a grape harvest or bottling of a wine.    Old things are NOT vintage.    Regardless of the fact that so many people try to associate it with old stuff - they are simply using the word wrong.   As a noun it would indicate the year or place of production of the wine, as an adjective it would denote the quality of the wine.

Ok, I'll get off my soap box now.

I would be more than happy to look at your safe for you, to see what you have and to try to ID it for you.   There were only a couple companies that made safes with letter dials instead of numbers, so this does limit it down somewhat.

You didn't mention whether or not the safe is open or locked closed????   This will make a difference in identifying the safe.   As you are in Northern California, you are in my service area, so if necessary (if the safe is locked up), we can get it open 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 – 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.

Again, sorry about the "vintage" thing - but it sets me off!   LOL.     Send me the photos so I can see what you actually have.

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QUESTION: Thank you for the reply.  I'm a fan of using precise language and always enjoy a good soapbox.  With so little information to go on here, I suppose "old" is a better adjective.  

The safe is closed and locked.  I have no particular need for an appraisal, but I am too curious not to want to know more.  I believe this thing has been sitting in the same spot since about 1957, and none of the owners of the house since 1990 know anything about it.  

Photos pending.


Hi Matt,

Pretty much ALL of the manufacturer's using alpha characters on the dials were out of business by 1907, so regardless of what you have it WILL be an antique safe (over 100 years old).

Send me as many of the photos of the safe (originally requested) as you can, and I'll see what other info I can come up with for you.


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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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