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Antique Safes/tann L198D & ? fortress 55/4620


I have a customer that has two tann safes.  the 1st has a #L198D on it. The 2nd says fortress and looks like one a saw on internet with model # 55/4620. customer doesn't have the keys or combos. I was wondering how to get the keys & combos? or drill points? weight of each? and how much they each are worth. Any help would be much appreciated.

Hello Snow,

Thank you for your question.

All John Tann serial numbers were 'lost' when the company was acquired by the Swedish conglomerate Gunnebo, so I would need to see a picture of L198D to be able to comment.

The Size 4620 Fortress will weigh approximately 4,400 pounds (2000kgs).  This is a very high security safe and without the key and combination code the safe will have to be drilled open using a limpet drill and fibre optics. Once open the drill holes must be tapped and plugged with hardened slugs, new keys cut and the combination code re-set.

This will require the services of a highly skilled safe engineer as safes made in the UK are generally far more difficult to open than those made in the USA due to the demands of British insurers. This safe has several re-lockers which will need to be drilled and isolated, so drilling it open and repaired will take quite a long time and require a high degree of knowledge and skill. If you are not a safe engineer,try contacting the Master Locksmiths of America.  They should be able to put you in touch with someone.

I have not sold used safes for many years so I have no idea of current values and certainly would have no knowledge of values in the USA.  However, the Fortress is a high security safe and the re-sale value should be just about be sufficient to cover the cost of restoring it to working condition.  You have to wonder if it is worth the customer's while to do so as it may cost less just to buy a new safe.


Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

Antique Safes

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Mike Palmer


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.


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.

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.

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.

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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