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Antique Safes/Numbers on handle



My question is general.  I have a safe (approx 3' x 3' on rollers).  It is old and I don't know the mfr., model number, etc.  It has a dial combination.  However, the round (bubble-shaped) center of the handle has 5 numbers engraved in it.  What would such 5 numbers typically represent?  Thank you.

Roy, as far as I know, the numbers are serial numbers of the manufacturer.  Andy, another expert on this forum, has been tracking these numbers to some extent, to help date age of manufacture.  In most cases, knowing the exact year is of little importance, as the safes do not change on an annual basis. Very little makers model or serial number info exists from the 1800's, so dating safes is generally done by the architectural features of the safe, in other words how it is built and what it looks like. Combining this with knowing the years that a maker was in business, usually allows for a good guess at the era of manufacture.  If you post a couple good clear pictures of your safe, I might be able to tell you more about it. 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 No longer current.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

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