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Antique Safes/Enquiry reg. a Vulkan safe



Hi Mike,

Have a personal safe belonging to my uncle. Its details:

Made of iron. Fire proof.
Height= 24 inches, Width = 20 ", Depth = 18"
Has double locking - (2 keys numbered 1 and 2 and having the name Vulkan on it - that is how i assume its a Vulkan safe).
Inside is another smaller locker drawer and a shelf. With its smaller key.

I cannot find any name or number anywhere that i can see (Its placed inside a wooden cupbourd hence i can see the front of the safe only).
Would you be able to guide me regarding this safe ? Does the Vulkan name on the keys mean its made by them only or could it be a different maker?
Am planning to sell it but not sure what to expect in terms of cost as well as where to keep it for sale.
Any input will be appreciated.

Thank you,
Ms Khursheed

Hello Ms Khursheed,

Thank you for your enquiry and the photographs.  Vulcan with a 'c' is commonly used as a name for safes both here in the UK and in the USA. However, I have never encountered a Vulkan safe with a 'k' but as this is a very English looking safe, my guess is that the name Vulkan refers to the make of lock rather than the safe.

This form of construction is referred to as 'four corner bent'.  Metal presses were introduced in the late 1800's and in this case a single sheet of mild steel was bent 4 times to create the two sides, top and bottom of the safe.  A separate plate was then screwed or rivetted to the back and the door was hung on a frame at the front.

The body cavity is almost certainly filled with sand and sawdust; a very primitive form of fire resistant compound.  The safe was made circa 1890 - 1910 so over the past 100 years or so, the sand and sawdust will have leaked and become compacted at the bottom of the safe leaving large voids though which heat would be quickly conducted.

Safes of this age offer virtually no protection agains the modern burglar and any fire resistance it may have once had will have badly deteriorated.

I have no idea of the value in India.  Here in the UK the insurance industry does not like these antique safes, consequently they have little value but in India this may be very different.  On ebay, safes of this type frequently sell for around 140.

I hope this is of assistance.


Michael Palmer FSyI

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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