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Antique Safes/My Halls safe! Thank you!


QUESTION: Hi Terry, I just was given a Halls floor safe serial #18743 orig. condition "good to fair" , it is opened but locked I have the combo but I can't open it  , my questions are how old is it and the combo has four numbers left , right , left & right what direction do I turn it and how many times to zero it out? Thanks Mike

ANSWER: Hi Mike,

In order to try to "AGE" the safe, I'll need to see exactly what you have.   There have been several "Hall's" safe companies over the years.

Good news - as long as the safe is locked open, you aren't in any trouble, and even if the combo that you have doesn't work, it can easily be recovered.   I would need a photo of the lock to determine if I would recommend this as a DIY project or whether I would recommend using a safe technician.

There is no such thing as "zeroing it out".    That would be kind of like asking a blonde to stand in the corner of a round room.    When the lock is correctly lock (spun off), the combination sequence is cleared out.    No amount of additional turning of the dial will scramble the wheels any more.    But feel free to turn the dial as many times as you wish, as long as you understand that you are doing it for your benefit and NOT the locks.

There are ONLY three reasons that a safe lock will not unlock - in order - they are:
1.  Incorrect dialing sequence, operator errors
2.  Incorrect combination, wrong numbers
3.  Mechanical problems.

In most cases, combinations are passed along, the way the previous owner understood them, and NOT necessarily the way that the lock works.    Depending on the lock installed on the safe, your combo might be dialed either LRLR or RLRL - if the lock is an X type, then it uses different combo's for the different directions.

Based on the info that you have provided, I would suspect it would dial as:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right to the fourth number - stop - turn handle to open.

If this doesn't work, reverse directions and try RLRL vs LRLR.

NOTE:  Left is counter clockwise, and Right is clockwise.   Do not 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 would turn the dial counter clockwise (left), stopping the FOURTH time the number 50 arrives at the index mark.

If you still can't get it, you may need to have someone check it out to recover the actual combination and to show you how to dial it.

hope this helps,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Terry, First try with your advise I was able to unlock my safe! I would love to send you pictures of my safe but I am not a computer person don't know how to get them from my phone to computer to you! I will give you a little more information on the safe the serial #18743 is on the handle, it says manufactured by the Halls safe co. . Cincinnati . O ,inside the front door and on the back , on the front door it says The Halls Safe Co. , Cincinnati , on the lower front edge of the safe below the door it says Kinsey , Rainer & Thompson . It is the same or simmiler to a safe I read about on your sight that you said was between 1898 and 1940! Thank you for helping me unlock my safe! Mike

Hi Mike,

The "first" Hall's company was "Grandpa Hall" (Edward Hall) - E. Hall & Company (early 1840's).   His son Joseph L. Hall (daddy Hall) began working with his father in the 1840's eventually establishing his first company "Joseph L. Hall & Company".   In 1867 Joseph incorporated as "Hall's Safe & Lock Company".   During the next 20+ years Joseph's sons (Edward C. Hall, William H. Hall, and Charles O. Hall" literally grew up in the company and the safe making business.
Shortly after Joseph's death in 1889, his son's merged his company with three others to form Herring-Hall-Marvin safe company in 1892.    In 1896, after having a falling out with the board of directors over the closing of the four original factories in favor over moving to a new facility in Hamilton, OH, the Hall's brothers left HHM to begin a new company.  So in late 1896 Hall's Safe Company was started.   This company lasted until the late 1920's to early 30's.

Both the original Hall's Safe & Lock Company and the subsequent Hall's safe Company were both in Cincinnati.    It appears that your safe is from the second company.

Kinsey, Rainer & Thompson was a general sales agent for the Hall's Safe Company.   They opened for business in 1897 in New York, NY, with an office at 393 Broadway, near many of the cities notable furniture manufacturers.    This company only sold safes until about 1905 or 1906, when they changed venue's from selling safes, and became a motor vehicle equipment company.

With their name on the safe it would have been sold BETWEEN the 1897-1906 dates, which would establish it as an antique safe.   With the serial number of 18743, I think it would have been closer to a manufacture date of around 1900.

If you would like me to look at your safe, I would be more than happy to see it, but I'll need the photos.   If you can't email them to me, you can always save them to your computer and then copy the file to a disc, and snail mail it.

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, unless they are very clear and of sufficient resolution.   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:

or you can snail mail it to me:

Security Safe
Attn:   ANDY
1753 Addison Way
Hayward, CA  94544

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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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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. 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

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 - 2013 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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