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Antique Safes/Age of a safe-estimated rarity


I just purchased a small F.W Woolworth safe from a Seattle antique warehouse. The safe is black with gold trim and has an inner, thick
smaller safe as well. The locking mechanisms are made by Yale.
The dimensions are about 22" by 22" by 35", including rollers, attached to the base of the safe. The safe is made by HERRING, HALL, MARVIN SAFE CO. The weight is enormous for the size. Everything is operational-opening and closing/locking. I am trying to estimate the year of manufacture and possibly determine what Woolworths store this came from?

Hi Robert,

I would be more than happy to look at your safe to determine what you actually have.

The first F.W. Woolworth store was opened by Frank Winfield Woolworth on February 22, 1878, as "Woolworth's Great Five Cent Store" in Utica, New York.  The F. W. Woolworth Company (often referred to as Woolworth's, or Woolworth) was a retail company that was one of the original pioneers, and arguably the most successful American and international five-and-dime stores, setting trends and creating the modern retail model which stores follow worldwide today.  The last of these stores was closed down in 1994.

Part of Woolworth's trade was mail order items, including smaller safes.    Larger safes would have been purchased through local stores.    A very small safe like yours would have been something that could have been sold mail order or through an outlet.    Generally smaller safes like this would have been used as a personal safe, and NOT as a business safe.

Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Company, was the resulted merger of several of the largest safe companies in the US.    This company began in May of 1892, though production was continued at the original five factories until a new facility in Hamilton, OH was built, and all manufacturing moved their in early 1897.     HHM continued at this location until it was acquired by Diebold in 1959 during bankruptcy proceedings.   After an antitrust lawsuit was brought against Diebold by the US government, Diebold was forced to close down several facilities (or trademarks) in the early 1960's.   Among these were York Safe & Lock Company and Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe company.

While this does give us some basic dates to work from obviously narrowing the dates from 1892-1959 WOULD be helpful to you.

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.

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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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