Antique Safes/safe


QUESTION: our church but the house next door and inside the house there are two huge safes made apparently by Shapleigh HDW & of them is locked and we do not have access to it the other one is open and empty
My first question is:  how can I get the safe open? is that company still in business or should I call a locksmith?
My second question:  is there any value to the safes? Would you consider looking at a picture?
Thanks for your time and consideration in this matter.

ANSWER: Victor,

Sorry, but this is why owners shouldn't try to ID their old stuff.   Shapleigh Hardware Company was in business in the St. Louis, MO area from the late 1880's.   They were rivals of the Simmons Hardware Company in that same area.   Simmons VP Saunders Norvell bought the controlling interest in Shapleigh around 1901.   I'm not sure if they continued the name or not, however the Simmons chain was acquired by The Winchester Company in 1922 forming Winchester-Simmons, I'm sure that this also included the Shapleigh stores.

The "E.L. & A.M. Burr" appears to have been a sporting goods chain in Rockford Illinois during the early 1900's.

As NEITHER of these companies were manufacturers or sellers of safes (sales agent), which would lead me to believe that they were only owners at some point.

Unfortunately the photos that you have provided aren't good enough for me to do any inspections so I can't come up with what you actually have and/or when it might have been made.   Identification may not be possible until the safes are open and I've had a chance to see the whole safe.    Many manufacturers used very similar designs, which makes identification difficult in some cases.

As far as opening the safe, you WILL need a safe technician from a local safe company and NOT a locksmith.    I never recommend using locksmiths as they generally do not have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes without causing excessive damage or charging exhorbant fees.   As you have a possibly antique safe, damage should be out of the question.

If you don't have a local safe company, then I'll need to know where you are located (zipcode) to see if I know anyone in your area that I might recommend.

I would be more than happy to look at your safes 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.   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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Sorry for the incomplete email and info sent to you. I will try to get more pictures sent to you at my earliest convenience. In the meantime,could you please recommend a local safe company I could use in or near the 61101 zipcode?

Thanks again,

Hi Victor,

I've got a couple recommendations for you:

Professional Safe & Lock Service
414 327 5625          Jon Soderland
5123 West Howard Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin  53220

Fink Safe & Lock Company
2311 N. Western
Chicago, IL  60647

Give these companies a call.   If one of them can't help you, they might know of someone closer that they would recommend.

Hope this helps,  

Antique Safes

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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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