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Antique Safes/Antique Schwab Safe


Recently, I inherited an antique Scwab Safe. It is probably from 1900.  The combination works perfectly, but I have a two questions:

First, when I opened it I noticed a band of white material lining the door and around the lip of the opening.

Is this material asbestos or gypsum? If it is asbestos is there wa way to seal it off with some kind of coating or remove it?

Second, how is this safe rated in terms of fire and/or burglary protection?


Hi Louis,

Chances are the material around the edge of the door is what is known as "fire cord or rope gasket".    This is the same material used around the edge of most home ovens.    I'm not sure what material it is, but it's been in use for around 100 years with no problems that I'm aware of.     Older ones may be an asbestos material, while newer ones may be of a fiberglass material.   Other than testing the material, you may not know what the material is.

As far as the safes "rating" for burglary or fire resistance - basically it has none.    While it may meet the minimum standards for burglary, it is more tamper resistant than actually burglary resistant.   You have to remember when this safe was made, NONE of the battery operated power tools that are currently, easily available, had even been thought of yet.   Generally burglars were using simple hand tools at that time.    Safes over 50 years old do not meet any standard for fire resistant.

Note:    I would not recommend ANY overnight storage of cash, jewelry or valuable documents in this safe.

Hope this answers your questions.  

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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

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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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