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Antique Safes/J.Cartwright & Sons Safe-Cash Rating?


J.Cartwright & Sons Safe
J.Cartwright & Sons Sa  

j.Cartwright & Sons Safe
j.Cartwright & Sons Sa  

We have a J.Cartwright &Sons safe concreted into the house we recently bought. I was wondering if it has any use as a safe by modern standards? It's a single door with one draw inside. The door handle is like an old fashioned tap handle as opposed to a doorknob which I have seen on another. It's dimensions are 60cm high x 43cm wide and internal depth of 32cm.

What I am trying to find out is what cash rating it would have to compare to modern safes and for insurance purposes. Your help would be much appreciated.

Hello Christian,

Thank you for your question and the pictures of your Joseph Cartwright safe.

Your safe was manufactured circa 1860.  Its primary purpose was to protect ledgers from loss by fire, hence the body is filled with sand and sawdust - a primitive heat resister. Safe crackers of the period travelled by foot, worked by candlelight using simple hand held tools and made the getaway on foot carrying their spoils.  By 1910 these old riveted safes were totally obsolete as they were so easily ripped apart.  Today safes of this age have no security function and receive little or no cash rating.  They are also difficult to get rid of as even scrap metal dealers are reluctant to handle them as the sand and sawdust makes such a mess of their yards.

My best advice is to polish up the brass plates, restore the paintwork nicely and use it as a drinks cabinet and talking point.


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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