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Antique Safes/Herring-Hall-Marvin safe



I just bought a HHM safe out of an old barn full if antiques in California. I am mostly wondering about the age of the safe and if there is any way to find out its personal history. It has the numbers 28805 on the handles and "San Francisco" on the front. Any information will be appreciated. Thanks.


basic history.

Herring-Hall-Marvin got their start as a merger between the "Herring & Farrel safe companies", "Hall's Safe & Lock Company" and the "Marvin Safe Company", in 1892.
During the period between 1892 until mid 1897, safes were still manufactured at each of the original factories in New York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, until the new consolidated factory in Hamilton, Oh was started.    After the consolidation, all manufacturing was done at the new facility and serial numbers were restarted.    Unfortunately, there are no records by serial number that provide us with exact dates of fabrication, so we have to take a look at each safe to get an indication on when it was built.

It just so happens that I've got two HHM safes and an HHM vault door at my house, two of which are older, and one slightly younger than your safe, so I've got a pretty good idea of the time frame we are looking at.   Your safe would have been built around 1900-1905, possibly 1903ish.

The San Francisco mention was simply a sales office for HHM, and has nothing to do with manufacturing.

As far as "personal History" of the safe - if you have none, and/or have no way of tracing it back through previous owners, then its history basically starts with you!    Sorry, manufacturers and sales offices didn't keep detailed records like this, and they certainly never published them for obvious security and liability reasons.

Many companies would paint the name of the original owner across the top edge of the safe, it appears that yours may have been painted over.    You might take a really good look at it, as some times a "shadow" of the letters will show through, in just the right light.
You also might try removing the newer paint, carefully.   Many times if it is done correctly, the older paint will be visible after the newer paint is removed.

If you can get a name off the safe, then you can start tracking it backwards, or at least come up with some possibilities.

Hope this helps,

What other questions do you have???

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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.

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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

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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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