Antique Safes/safe


safe door
safe door  
My son and I have this safe and would like to know more about it. It has a wheel like a steering wheel on the outside and this causes the complete door to move in and out. I have a few questions but first if you could answer what type of Diebold safe is this. The patent date inside the door on the tumbler box says it was patented in 1885. Is this a strong box safe? Or what would you name it. I am attaching a photo of the outside of the safe, front door. When you respond I have more emails to send you. Thank you.


The manufacturer of the safe was Diebold Safe & Lock Company, of Canton Ohio.

The "type" of safe is known as a "Banker's" model.    This by no means indicates that it was owned by a bank, it simply refers to the style, and the higher security rating that it affords.   There were a number of different types of "Bankers" models, some with fire resistance, some with automatic locking systems, and containers like this which were more of the standard variety.
Bankers models were built out of cast steels (manganese or similar) or laminated plate steel, with varying degrees of hardness.    The doors fit so tightly, that a special crane hinge was used to support the weight, and align the door for closing.  A pressure bar system was designed to close the door into the jamb, to allow the bolt work to lock.
The "Steering wheel" you have described is the geared pressure bar system used to close the door, into the opening, to allow it be locked.   The "L" shaped handle below the "steering wheel", is the bolt work operating handle.

As far as the "strong box safe" - I'm not sure where you came up with that, other than watching too many movies!  LOL    There was never any reference to any safe, by any manufacturer as a "strong box safe".

As for the "Patent Date", this simply refers to the DATE that the PATENT was issued, and has nothing to do with ANY date of manufacture for the safe or the lock or any component, other than to indicate that the safe or lock or item referenced could not possibly have been built prior to the patent issue date.    
While this does give us a "starting point", patents were issued and used for periods of up to 20 years, and may have been referenced by the manufacturer for years after, if they elected to reference the patent which the item was built under.    In this case this gives us a period of from 1885 up until the 1920's as a reference period.

Again the 1885 is a patent ISSUE date, and NOT a manufacture date.

I would be more than happy to look at your safe, to answer any specific questions that you might have about it.

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 as most cell phones DON'T take photos that are actually clear.   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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