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Antique Safes/J grove safe


As per my email please find pics of safe left to me by my uncle

Hello Mike,

Thanks for the pictures.  This type of safe is known as 'square cornered'.  It was made before metal presses  were introduced and comprised mild steel plates riveted or screwed to an angle-iron frame creating sharp, 90 degree angles, hence the name square cornered.  It was manufactured circa 1880 and by 1890 this type of construction was largely considered obsolete.  The walls are filled with sand and sawdust to impart some level of fire resistance, these late Victorian safes being concerned mostly with protecting ledgers from fire.  J Grove was just one of scores of small safe makers that flourished in the industrial midlands during this period.  Chubb was already well known so they capitalised on the name - they also named their Defiance Safe works after John Tann's famous Reliance Safe Works.  

Safes of this type can be popped open very easily so they should not be used to secure cash, valuables or important documents.  Consequently they have very little value.  The best way to get some idea of prices is to check out 'antique safes' on eBay.  Ignore the 'buy now' prices as they invariably ask too much and seldom sell.  The average price seems to be around 140 for a safe in good condition with all the keys.  Make sure you list it 'to be collected' as moving these heavy items can cost more than they are worth.

I hope you find this useful.


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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