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Antique Safes/Identifying a Safe

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Question
QUESTION: G'Day Mike,
My wife has brought me a safe and I'm interested in gaining a little information on it. If you could please, a 'sherwood' green with slightly lighter front panel, brass plate "M&B Reliable" covers the keyhole. Inside two lower keyed drawers with "Millers Patent, the Invincible Safe, Fire and Burglar Proof" on the inside of the door having a circular pattern.

ANSWER: Hello Russ,

This sounds like a Milners safe of some kind.  As Milners was probably one of the world's most successful safe makers they had hundreds of different models over the years and I would need a couple of pictures of your safe to be able to comment on it.  If it is easier you can send pictures directly to me at info@mikepalmerconsultancy.co.uk.  Please send one picture showing the entire front of the safe including the hinges and one with the door open revealing the door thickness and the bolt-work.

Regards,

Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

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Safe Outside
Safe Outside  

Inside Door
Inside Door  
QUESTION: G'Day Again Mike,
I wasn't going to go any further with this but my wife keeps hounding me for more detail, and now that I've received a 'Satisfaction Survey' I might as well complete it properly.
As requested I've attached two images. More available if required

Answer
Hello Russ,

Thanks for the pictures.  This is a late Victorian Milner's 'square cornered' safe manufactured circa 1880.  It pre-dates the introduction of metal presses so it is constructed from 5 mild steel plates riveted or screwed to an angle iron frame.  The body is filled with a primitive fire resistant mix of sand, sawdust and alum crystals.  The lock and bolt-work are assembled in a lock-case pan which is then bolted to the single plate door.

With a hammer and cold chisel the seams can be quickly forced and the safe opened in minutes.  Over the past 100+ years the loose fill will have compacted and leaked leaving large voids through which heat would be conducted.  All that holds the lock-case in place are the threads on the bolts so the door is vulnerable to wedging and explosives.  The lock is probably a basic  7 lever which is relatively easy to pick. However, most attacks on square cornered safes are through the back.  There's no means of anchoring them to prevent them being spun.

Safes of this age are totally obsolete and should not be used to secure cash, valuables or important documents.  As far as UK used safe dealers are concerned safes of this type are worthless and usually scrapped.  However some people collect them to refurbish and sell on as curios, drinks cabinets, etc. but I  have no idea what they would sell for in Australia.  You may get some idea by searching eBay for 'antique safes'.

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Regards,

Mike Palmer FSyI

Antique Safes

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Mike Palmer

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
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.

Publications
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.

Education/Credentials
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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