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Antique Safes/Two Safes, need to move, Keep? Sell?


General Fireproofing Safe
General Fireproofing S  

Unknown Safe
Unknown Safe  
  First, thank you for all the answers that you’ve posted.  They are very detailed and have been a great help to me in my research.  I’m now to the point where I need some specific assistance on two safes that I have to move.  

They are currently in a building, located in Washington, DC, that I had leased to a construction company.  The two safes were so heavy, at the lease signing, it was easier for me (and my tenant) to just allow them to use the safes for as long as they were leasing the space.  They are now vacating that space and my other tenant is taking over the space and wants them removed.  

(I bet you can guess where this is going).

Image Details:
I have uploaded 1 composite picture of each safe, for your initial reference (due to the limit of two pics per post).  One is of the General Fireproofing Company Design 9 and the other is of an “unknown” safe, distributed by the “Acme Safe Co”.  In each attached pic, I have combined several photos to give you as much info as possible (in one pic).  I can take additional pics at 24megs RAW (if needed) and send to your email.  Additionally, the “Acme” composite picture has a shot of BOTH safes (for size reference, if that will help).

I apologize for not having the exact exterior/interior dimensions (at this point), but I will be getting them tomorrow.

History of the Safes:
Both of these were purchased by my father, between 1946 and 1970.  I have no paperwork on them.  They have been used in his printing business and have been kept clean (relatively) and dry.  Both safes work (I have the combinations and both operate smoothly, locks, doors, etc. – at least to a non-expert).

Safe Details:
Safe #1:  
- Brand – General Fireproofing Company of Youngstown, Ohio
- Design No. 9
- Color – Light Grey
- Has Allen type “key” for resetting the combination (I believe)
- Has a SMHA Tag with the following info:
o Upper left corner has “Z1”
o Upper right corner has “5199” (serial number?)
o SMNA Group has “2 HOUR”
o Catalog No. has”50.0” (I believe…need better pic)
- Has a S&G Combination lock
- Sits flat on floor (no wheels, etc.)

Safe #2:
- Brand – Unknown
- Distributor – Acme Safe Co., New York (know this from your earlier posts)
- Color - Green
- Combination dial has name – but hard for me to tell what it says, (you will probably know it from one look)
- Sits on 4 fixed (non-swivel) wheels

Questions/Opinions Requested (of your expertise)
- Any and all information you can provide me about each safe (from the pics provided)
- I’ve read enough of your honest but sobering replies to know that:
o  I might have some significant “boat anchors” here (Hope not!) would be interested in any guesstimates of the weights
o One or both of these safes MAY have asbestos (Really, really hope NOT)… but neither safe’s exterior has been compromised nor is there any internal contents (aka white powder, etc.) apparent.
I would value your assessment of both safes, from the limited data I’m currently able to provide

- My “goal” would be to:
o Sell the General Fireproofing Safe.  It is simply too big and while I really think it’s cool and has great sentimental value, I have no place to put/keep it.
o Keep the Acme safe, have it moved to my home (garage) and use it for work papers (knowing that it not up to current fire or theft standards (again, from your previous posts).
- Would very much appreciate your expert opinion on my goals above, basically if the General Fireproofing safe has any value (I’ve unfortunately not seen any which has… but I’m being trying to stay optimistic ! :)).  Also, is it worth keeping the “Acme” safe for paper storage and the cost of moving (any estimates?) …  (Won’t ask you to place a value on the sentimental value… that’s on me).  I’m really looking for objective, pragmatic feedback (I can remove the emotion from this).  Thanks (in advance) for your assistance and expert knowledge.


Hi Lester,

I should probably be charging you by the paragraph on this one.    While I may not answer all of your questions, mainly because I would have to read your whole letter 10 times to catch them all, I'll try to get as much info as I can in.

First I'll start off with the General Fireproofing safe.    Before you even consider selling this container there are something's that YOU need to check out before offering it for sale.
This company was known to have used asbestos in its insulation material.   While personally I think that there is nothing wrong with asbestos when used correctly, and in this case sealed inside of the safe walls - I'm not the one writing regulations and rules.

In this case you need to check to find out what local, state and federal HAZMAT regulations may affect either the "SALE of, TRANSPORTATION of, and/or DISPOSAL of" this container as it may very well contain a listed HAZMAT item.    I'm serious about this as the penalties can be extremely stiff, and claiming lack of knowledge is no excuse after the person you sell it to finds out that it has asbestos.

Recommendation - FIRST, I would have the material tested to determine if your container is actually affected or contains asbestos.  If you don't have a local HAZMAT testing facility (check with your fire department), then you can obtain a home test kit through most hardware stores like Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or even CVS Pharmacies.   You can also order the kit on line by going through

After you have the results, you can determine what to do with this container, in accordance with your local, state and federal HAZMAT regulations.    If there is no asbestos present, then worry about it no longer and put it on the market - you will also have the certificates to let potential buyers know that it was tested and came up clean.

enough on this safe, now onto the second safe.

The ACME Safe Company has been in business since around 1904, as a distributor - not as a manufacturer - which means in order for me to actually answer questions concerning your safe, I'll need to see much better, detail photos, not a very small resolution collage of them.   While I do have a couple ideas concerning possible manufacturers, I never "guess" about identification.

I would agree however, if you are going to keep one of the safes, it would be the one with the ACME logo.    The General Fireproofing Company only manufactured safes from 1912 until 1940, and these were little more than records storage containers or office equipment.

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:

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.

while I know this hasn't answered all of your questions, at least we have some direction now to proceed in - which is a start.  

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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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