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Antique Safes/milner safe


i there could you tell me the date of a milner 202 the serial number is 4193/168160 thank you

Hello Louise,

Firstly this is a Milner 212 not 202.  This number is significant as 212 degrees is the boiling point of water.  This indicates that the safe was filled with Milner's patent mix of sand, sawdust and alum crystals.  When heated, alum converts most of its bulk to moisture thereby dampening the sand and sawdust.  The internal temperature cannot exceed 212 degrees until all the moisture is driven off and paper documents are unaffected at this temperature.  So this safe was predominently designed to preserve ledgers.  

However, its age is difficult to assess without seeing a picture.  According to my records, serial numbering in this late Victorian period was confused.  Number 167000 was used in 1880 but there is no record of 168160 but we can assume that it was probably used sometime during 1881 or 1882.  After 1889 Milner's began to use prefix letters to mark the yeart of manufacture.

Obviously, safes of this extreme age should not be used to secure cash, valuables or vital documents but they do make interesting curios.

If you are able to send me a picture of the safe, I may be able to tell you more.  If it is easier you can send pictures directly to


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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