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Please could you help me identify my safe ?
Make, model, year ect ?
Maybe even a rough value ?
Many thanks

Hello Ricky,

This can't really be described as a safe as it pre-dates the first patented burglar resistant safes by about 50 years - circa early 1800's.  It could more accurately be described as a cast iron chest with a 'box of wards' lock. The chest was cast by C H Crane but I suspect the brass plate and brass escutcheon were added much later. The problem with cast iron chests was that if struck by a sledge hammer then tended to shatter, so the weren't terribly good.  They aslo conducted heat very effectively so they didn't protect documents too well either.  The lock did not have modern moving levers but a series of fixed 'wards' over which the key must pass.  It was relatively easy to make a simple key with much of the tongue cut away.  This would pass the wards and open the chest - hence the term 'skeleton key'.

As for the value; it is hard to say.  These old chests don't have any practicle function but they are relatively rare. They get listed on ebay and there are a couple there at the moment priced between 210 and 240, but these are Buy it Now prices which are invariably set too high and seldom sell but it is worth watching to what they sell for so you can get an idea of the value of your chest.


Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

Antique Safes

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Mike Palmer


I earn my living identifying safes and suggesting cash limits for risk advisors and insurance surveyors in the UK. I'm am pleased to comment on safes manufactured in the UK or Mainland Europe but I am unable to accept questions regarding safes made in the USA or elsewhere.


I have been in the UK safe industry for 40 years and have one of the largest archive databases of old safe literature and serial numbers in the country. I started with Chubb in 1960 and became Assistant Manager of their Bank Security Division before moving on to become the Insurance Liaison Manager with the John Tann Group. I became Sales & Marketing Director for Guardian Safes Limited before semi-retiring. I am a Fellow of the Security Institute and ex-Chairman of Eurosafe UK, a trade body representing the interests of UK safe makers and distributors. I now work as a part time consultant.

I am an advisor to the Safe Committee of the Association of Insurance Surveyors, a Fellow of the Security Institute and founding Chairman of Eurosafe UK.

I have had literally scores of articles published in various security trade publications. So far this year I have had 24 features published in various journals including Keyways, Professional Security, Pawnbroker and Safe India. I have published one book, Peckham Boy, the life and times of the world's greatest safe cracker.

No relevant educational credentials.

Awards and Honors
In 1997 I was awarded the annual shield by the Association of Insurance Surveyors for "..outstanding services to crime prevention"

Past/Present Clients
I have represented or been an agent for the John Tann Group (Stratford, Ratner, Dreadnought and Tann safes); Churchill Safes, Chubb Safe Co Ltd, SLS Safes, SMP Safes, Dudley Safes and several others

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