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Antique Safes/Cary Safe



First off, thank you for taking your time to offer help to those of us with these issues. I have read through several of your responses and am impressed with the support you offer.

My father passed away suddenly this past summer and we have been left trying to piece things together. I have been able to gain entry to all of his other safes, computers, etc. by lucky guessing / manipulation, etc. Thus far I have been lucky enough to gain entry without brute force or destruction.

Now I am up against the last challenge (see attached picture). From the research I have done, I estimate it to be a Cary safe from around 1900-1910? I don't see a serial number on the dial, but I will clean it up next time I am around my mother's to verify. I don't have the combination, and am not sure how many digits it is to even perform a worthwhile search of his files / papers yet. Again, based on my research I assume it would be a 4 or 5 digit combination.

I would like to start off by verifying that my assumptions on this safe are correct (brand, vintage, number of combination digits, etc.). I would also like to validate the dialing sequence. Also, if you could refer me to some images or diagrams of how the inside of this door / lock look, that would be helpful for me.

I would definitely prefer to not hurt the safe, and understand that I may have to defer to a safe technician to gain entry and obtain that objective. However, the safe is about 100 miles from me, and the two nearest safe technicians are another 60 miles further than that. My wife is also in Nursing school, so time and money are another challenge with having a young family. I am an Engineer by trade, so technical challenges are generally welcome. My research into combination locks and safes, along with what I have had to do with my father's other safes, thus far is quite intriguing and consuming.

I have several more images of the safe, and will email them to you at  

I appreciate your assistance with this.

Best Regards,


Hi Joe,

I'm sorry to hear about your father's passing.   We are going through similar circumstances with my wife's father, who I'm very close with.   It's never easy to lose someone who has been a mentor throughout your life.

Next item - which is one of the reasons that I always refer to the internet as "GIGO" (garbage in, garbage out), concerns your conclusions about your safe.

Unlike the "State Farm Insurance" commercial, where the girl indicates that it HAS to be true if it's on the internet, the opposite is more likely.  Unfortunately, anyone can post anything, or say anything, and there are no standards.

The safe you are indicating in the photo attached appears to be from the Victor Safe & Lock Company and NOT a Cary Safe Co., safe.    You notice how, without proper verification and identification, I use the term "appear".   Even as an expert on antique safes, until I have verified a safe, I won't ID it.

Unfortunately, the photo is not of sufficient quality for me to give you a better reference, however, the lock that I would suspect to be on this lock (manufactured by Victor), would be a three wheel lock (three numbers), and I assume that the dial has 100 numbers available.

The dialing sequence for this lock is as follows:

4 times left to the first number, (___)
3 times right to the second number, (___)
2 times left to the third number, (___)
1 time right until the dial stops.

Note:  left is counter clockwise, right is clockwise.  Don't count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.   For instance if your first number is 50, you will turn the dial counter clockwise (left) stopping the fourth time the number 50 arrives at the index mark.

as far as providing any "opening" techniques, photos or advice - because of security and liability reasons we don't provide anything other than the proper dialing sequence.   We have no way of verifying who you are, your ownership or even authority to work on the safe.    The best that I can offer would be to point you towards a safe technician in your area to open the safe.
Don't worry so much about the mileage distance - I generally travel 400 to 600 miles many days each week, and have one of the largest service areas in the country.   Most safe techs are use to this.

I also understand the "money factor".   As with you, I also have to watch my pennies.  After my wife killed my money tree, I'm now forced to live within my means.   My recommendation would be for you to either set up a spread sheet with all the possible combinations, or save up until you can have it opened without damaging or destroying it.   Cost for this safe should be in the $350-$500 range to open AND repair it to operational condition.  As parts are no longer available, any method which damages the safe or the lock should be avoided.   Drilling the safe, when done by a professional safe tech, utilizes one very small hole (under 1/4"), which can be easily repaired.

If you decide to test all the combo's - trying 500 each night will only take you about 5.5 years.   You can easily make this a family project.   If you have other numbers or combinations from your father you can also test these.

Sorry I can't be of more help, but hopefully I've given you some better info than you had previously.

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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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