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Antique Safes/Diebold Safe Mural


I have an antique Diebold floor safe on wheels in great working condition. The mural was painted over and needs to be restored.  I am curious as to who painted these murals.  Did Diebold take requests from companies and paint these murals or were they done individually by the specific companies.  This company noted on the safe was Boston based.  Is there anywhere to get more info on these murals?


Hi Mike,

Great question.

In most cases the paintings were done by artist employed by the safe companies.   While I have been able to do some history on some of the artist from several companies, who went on to become professional artist, it doesn't appear that this was true for many of the artist working for Diebold.    The following is a listing of the painters that I've been able to identify, as having worked for the Diebold Safe & Lock Company, and associated dates, though there are no records to tie anyone of them to a particular safe, and infact they may have all had their "fingers in the painting" so to speak.

By "dating" your safe, we can possibly narrow down an artist(s) that "MAY" have painted the art work on your safe.

  Julius O. Weber was a painter for the Diebold Safe Company, Canton, OH, between 1881 to 1885.   He was also listed as an Ornamental Painter between 1883-1886.

  Ferdinand Kline was an Ornamental Painter, employed by the Diebold Safe Works during the early 1880’s (1881 to 1884).

  Frank W. Jay was an “ornamental painter, employed at Diebold Safe Works in Canton, OH, between 1886-1896.

EMIL BOTT  (1827-1908)
  Emil Bott was a landscape, portrait and ornamental painter.   Born in Wurttemberg, Germany and trained at Dusseldorf.   In January 1851 while he was in Louisville, Kentucky, four of his landscapes, depicting scenes in France, Italy and tennessee, were distributed in Cincinnati (Hamilton), Ohio, at the western Art Union.   In the same year, two of his Ohio River views were lithographed there by Otto Onken for William Well’s “Western Scenery”.   Bott kept a studio in Cincinnati until 1859, and spend the years 1859 and 1860 in Phillipsburg (now Monaca, Pennsylvania), then opened a studio in Pittsburgh, where he apparently remained until 1880.   From 1880 to 1896 he was in Canton, Ohio, working as an artist and ornamental painter for the Diebold Safe Works.  He later returned to Phillipsburg, where he died in 1908.

  Joseph Gross was an Artist and Ornamental Painter, employed at the Diebold Safe Works, Canton, OH, from 1883 to 1888.   In 1888 he was listed as “publisher Sunday Times and Artist at the Diebold Safe Works”,  but in 1898 he was listed as working solely for Diebold

  August L. Hoeland was listed as an Ornamental Painter, employed at the Diebold Safe Works from 1881-1886.  In 1888 he was working at the Princess Plow Company.
(Source - Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900; A Biographical Dictionary)

In most cases the paintings and art work were done by the factory as standard art work, though their safes had different levels available, just like anything else.   You could get a "standard" safe, which was basically a plain Jane model for business, up to a "Luxury" model, which was for bankers or the more affluent that might display the safe.   In between these two levels were various models and paint schemes.

Safes were NOT sold directly by the factory, they were sold through sales offices or general agents (who might represent several companies).   While a special safe could be ordered, this was unique and NOT standard business.   In general it was the sales offices or general agents who would paint the name of the original owner on to the safe.

As your art work has been painted over, you can remove the newer paint one layer at a time, very carefully to hopefully reveal the original art work, unfortunately it may have been painted over because it was severely damaged to begin with.

Hopefully this has given you some insight, if you have any specific questions, I'll try to answer them.  

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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

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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.

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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

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