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Antique Safes/Antique Diebold


QUESTION: I am considering purchasing this safe as a restoration project for me, my dad, and my grandfather.  I was wondering if you could help me determine the weight, age and possibly the value.  The weight would be nice to know so I could get a cost to move it as it is 160 miles from my shop.  It is a Diebold with a patent date of "27th March, 1877" on the outer "fire door" and a patent date of "Feb. 1, 1870" on the jewler's safe inside.  It has Outer fire doors with combination lock, inner banker's doors with combination lock and exposed bolt work on the inside, a jewler's safe in the lower inside with crane hinge, pressure bar, combination lock and exposed bolt work, and another safe with combination lock and exposed bolt work inside it.  It's basically a safe, inside a safe, inside a safe.  Also, in the main interior, among the wood cubby holes, are 2 lockable steel compartments with keys.  The inner door has been drilled, so I'd have to make that repair.  My father and I are metal fabricators, so that's not a big deal.  Also, the spindle for the lever of the left inner door has been damaged (that's why there are vice grips in place of the handle) so we'd have to remake that piece.  The sliding component of the combination lock that prevents the movement of the bolt work (I think it's called the fence) has been removed from all 4 locks but they are present.  I would probably replace the locks with modern, more reliable units from S&G.  The safe is 78" tall, 58" wide, and 44" deep.  The serial number stamped on both main door lever knobs is the number "59" above the number "45666".  Any info that you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER: Hi Doug,

Looks like your safe is a "Fire Resistive - Bankers" model, WITH the interior Jewelers Chest.

By itself, I would expect the "Fire Safe -  ONLY" to weigh around 3000 to 3500 lbs.   With the Bankers doors and the interior Jewelers Chest, you can probably add another 2000 to 2500 lbs.   So I would estimate that this safe could easily be in the 5000 to 6000 lbs range.   Obviously with out having any exact measurements of the safe - inside and out, including wall thicknesses and material thicknesses - I can only estimate what I would expect it to be.   If you are planning on moving the safe and can't weigh it to get an exact weight, I would ADD an additional 1000 lbs as a safety factor - figuring max of 7000 lbs.

Remember that Gravity is NOT your friend when it comes to weight, and heavy weights can cause immediate and severe (if not deadly) damage if it gets away from you.   There are no second chances or do overs.

As far as replacing the locks - if you are looking at its potential value as an antique, then I would not recommend it - These locks could cost you about $350-$400 each and would significatnly reduce the value of the safe.    Get your locks serviced and or correctly repaired!

As far as evaluating the container, I would be more than happy to look at it for you.

In order to answer questions, identify, evaluate or appraise the “current condition” of your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos (close-ups) 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 10mb 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 use a “jpeg” format, not a bitmap (bmp) image.   Also, I don’t like “website” photo dumps.   While it may be an easy place for you to store them, retrieving photos which allow me to zoom in to look at details, takes a lot of extra time.   Please send the requested photos directly to me.

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.

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

QUESTION: Thank you for the information.   9 new thing that I didn't include with my initial question was a photo of the third, smallest safe inside the jeweler's safe.  As for wall thickness, the outer doors measure 5 7/8" thick.  After doing some measuring and figuring, the walls, top, bottom, and back appear to be the same 5 7/8" thickness.  The banker's doors are 1 7/16" thick steel plate (3 plates total) plus the bolt work.  My plan was to remove the jewler's chest and use this as a gun safe after fabricating a new interior.  I have a local safe dealer who will move it for me for $500.  Seems reasonable to me.  I'm wondering,  however, what the doors weigh as I am going to have to remove and reinstall them during the restoration.  Do you think that this safe would have any value at all and would you have any idea as to it's age?  Thanks again.


In general, my estimates haven't changed.    When they build a bankers safe, the inner skin of the outer walls of the safe tend to be out of thicker steel.   So you have various layers of protection - for instance the outer skin, insulation material, and inner skin.

Depending on the THICKNESS of each layer, and based on the size is how you would figure a weight estimate.    This would mean "A LOT" of measurements, NOT just a simple thickness.

Without drilling a hole through the safe to measure these thicknesses the best we can do is to estimate based on other vary similar safes we have moved.

As far as removing the Jewelers Chest, when the safe maker built the safe, they built it with the idea that it NEVER come apart.    To remove the jewelers chest, you may have to damage or destroy the inner walls of the safe - as it is built in.

Removing or damaging pieces and parts will ruin its antique value.

Make sure that the safe dealer is prepared for this much weight.   There are only a few companies in the country that can safely move safes over 5000 lbs.    The $500 is a very LOW price, just make sure you understand HOW they are charging you as you don't want any surprises on the delivery end.    If you were in our area, for a similar move, you would be looking at around $2000 to $2400 minimum for us to move the safe - if we had other work in the area.   If we were looking at the 168 mileage - each way - as a dedicated job, you could be closer to $2500 to $3000.
So my thoughts on the $500 is that either the safe company has a lot of spare time, or they don't really know what they are doing or what they are getting into.    Figuring normal speed for a truck capable of delivering this safe at 55 miles per hour - that's almost 6 hours of travel time - NOT including on site time at the two locations.   And minimum for a job like this we would have three men.    This works out to about 24 man hours or about $20.85 per man hour - I don't know of a shop in the country that can work at this price - on a job like this.

Moving heavy safes like this requires special equipment.   It is NOT the same as moving refrigerators, ect., etc.

As this safe is not replaceable, and an antique, I would definitely #1 - check with YOUR insurance company to find out about covering this safe during this move and #2 - check to find out what type of insurance your safe man has.   You don't want either the safe or either building at each location damaged.

While I'm hoping that you have a very reliable safe company that knows what they are doing, and I hope your move job goes without problems, I'm seeing a lot of red flags that cause me to pause on this one.    Hopefully I've given you some ideas of things that you need to check on before having the safe moved.

As I mentioned before - to try to evaluate your safe I will need all of the requested photos.   I don't do anything without actually seeing the safe.    This site (not mine - I'm only a volunteer here) is NOT photo friendly and the photos do NOT allow me to zoom in to examine details.

Send your photos to me at:

Again, hope this info helps.  

Antique Safes

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 44 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900'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.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and 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. Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes". 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 Safe & Vault Technicians Association

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

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 - 2015 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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