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Antique Safes/safe in garage with no key



My mum bought a house 10 years ago and in the garage there is a large Stephen Cox safe which looks very old and is too heavy to move, with big hinges on the outside, one handle in the middle and a lock underneath. Is there any way to get access to these safes? I was told if you get a serial number etc it's a useful piece of the puzzle. would you be able to let us know what it is from the photo attached?

Hello Andrew,

Thank you for your question.  

Unfortunately, if the safe is locked and you have no keys, it will have to be drilled open by a safe engineer.  Once it is open the engineer can fit a new lock and repair the drill hole.  However, this is likely to be expensive and as this is a very old, low grade safe, it is possible that this would cost more than the safe is worth.  If there is a serial number it is likely to be stamped on the end of the moving bolts so it won't be revealed until the safe is opened and as Stephen Cox went out of business many years ago, there is no way to get the number checked.

It is worth getting a couple of estimates for opening the safe.  Go to for a list of locksmiths/safe engineers in your area.


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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