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Antique Safes/Globe Werneike Safe


I bought an old bank building in Lockhart, Texas with a 52"W 63" H and 32" deep safe. The dark olive colored type. Two questions; Best practice to restore the finish? I assume the original patina is preferred....2) Best way to determine combination or how to get serviced for new combo? thanks for your help

Hi Jeff,

Sorry but I'm going to have to start off with the "Patina" thing.   Unfortunately there are two totally misused words that drive me nuts - not your fault!    However - Patina is NOT a discoloration of material that it is caused by "use"!    Patina is the oxidation of brass or copper - it is similar to rust on iron, but it is that greenish oxidation that occurs.

While in some cases like statues (Stature of Liberty) or copper clad roof tops, this oxidation is a desirable effect, in many cases it is NOT.     Oxidation is oxidation, no matter what material it occurs on.
If your safe has a brass handle or other brass fittings, cleaning and polishing these items will not damage the value and may enhance it.    Think about it - if you are going to have an old safe on display, to you want one that looks old, dirty and rusty, or one that looks inviting, and more importantly, something that you would actually display items in???

Now that we've gotten THAT out of the way, what you have is simply used paint - NOT Patina.    Repainting the safe, or restoring the finish WILL NOT damage the value - WITH THE EXCEPTION of a safe which has "DOCUMENTED" historical significance.     If you do not have any documented historical significance relating to your safe, then it is SIMPLY an old safe.    Painting it will NOT damage the value and if anything may enhance it.

Basic History,

Globe-Wernicke manufactured safes from 1911 until about 1917.    This company engaged in the manufacture and sales of office furniture, sectional bookcases, files and equipment for many years.    When they decided to add safes to their catalog, they elected to "COPY" those safes manufactured by the Safe Cabinet Company.    They advertised these "identical" safes as "Globe Cabinet Safes".   In a 1914 lawsuit filed against Globe-Wernicke, it was determined that they were engaged in "deceptive practices" in attempting to mislead the public and customers into believing that they were actually buying safes manufactured by the Safe Cabinet Company, by having safes which were virtually identical, and by using a name which was also very similar.

The Court of Appeals found in favor of the Safe Cabinet Company, and of course Globe-Wernicke appealed the decision.    In April 1917 the Circuit Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, upheld the previous ruling and ordered Globe-Wernicke to cease manufacturing of these safes.

Now the bad news - As Globe-Wernicke attempted to copy the safes of the Safe Cabinet Company as closely as possible, Asbestos was also used as an insulation media in their safes.   As this is considered a HAZMAT material, you will need to check your local, state and federal regulations concerning selling, transporting or disposing of equipment containing HAZMAT materials, and specifically Asbestos.

Next question concerning the combination for the safe.    If the safe is "locked OPEN", you will simply need to have it checked or serviced by a safe technician to either recover or reset the combination.

If the safe is "locked CLOSED", then you will really need a safe technician to open the safe, to recover or reset the combination.

Cost of the above services WILL vary from shop to shop, so I would recommend that you contact a local safe company to discuss your options with them.    If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zipcode), and I'll see who I know in your area.  

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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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