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I have a safe that was left in the building I purchased. It's shut and locked and just trying to get some info on how old it is and if there's a way of getting it opened up. I have no idea if anything is in it or how easy it would be to get the combination to it. Any info would help. I attached to photos one of the safe and the other of the lock. There's not her info on the safe so I have no idea what kind it is. And if this is the same place in the uk sorry and do you have any other suggestions in the United States

Hi Shawn,

Your safe appears to have been made by the "National Safe & Lock Company, Cleveland, OH.".   This company was in business from 1883 until 1920, when they were acquired by the SteelCraft Corporation of America.   Safes were continued to be made by the new corporation under the name "National Safe Division.    The original names were retained for trade purposes.    SteelCraft continued to make these safes until around the beginning of the Great Depression (1929).

As far as when your safe was made, I would need to see much better photos, most of which you can't get until the safe is opened.

Concerning your hope that something is in it - with the exception of a death in the family, safes are NOT abandoned with stuff inside.    So chances are, besides dust you are probably only going to find an old comb and a couple paper clips.    Generally the lottery is a better bet, and I never recommend anyone waste money on the lotteries.

As for recovering the combination, manufacturer's NEVER published or released any documentation about the safes or combinations which may have been set, for obvious security and liability reasons.    Also, as this company has been out of business for at least 85 years, unless time travel becomes an option, the records are pretty much gone.

This leaves you with a couple options - you can test dial every possible combination for the lock installed on your safe, or you can have it opened by a trained, professional safe technician from a local safe company (NOT a locksmith).

If you elect for option 1 (DIY), I would expect your lock to be a Yale 4 wheel lock, with 100,000,000 possible combinations.    Testing 500 every day, would only take about 530 years to test them all.

The correct dialing sequence for your lock should be:

5 times left to the first number,
4 times right to the second number,
3 times left to the third number,
2 times right to the fourth number,
1 time left until the dial stops - should be around 0-10.       turn the handle to open.

Note:   Left is counter clockwise, right is clockwise.   DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.

If you elect option #2, I would recommend your contacting local safe companies to discuss having your safe opened, costs may vary shop to shop and region to region, but a fair price to expect to pay would be in the $350 to $500 range - to have it opened and repaired, the combination recovered and/or reset.    While manipulation is an option, you may not have anyone in your area who is competently trained.   Drilling, when done correctly and professionally will not damage or ruin the safe, and the single, small hole (usually 1/4" or smaller would be easy to repair.    Lock damage is also NOT an option as replacement parts are not easily obtainable, if you can find them at all.

If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you and/or the safe are located (zipcode), and I'll see who I might know in your area, that I might recommend.

As for answering any other questions or evaluating the safe - they may have to wait until the safe is opened, but I would be happy to look at your safe at that time.

In order to answer specific questions, identify, evaluate or appraise your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos 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 12mb 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 don’t send me “cell phone” photos, unless they are very clear and of sufficient resolution.   Also, please don’t use online, internet photo drops as most of these also don’t allow me to easily access the photos for examination.   Send the pics directly to me, while this may be more work for you, it will make my job easier.

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.  

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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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