Antique Safes/Edwards & Kershaw Safe
Good evening. My family recently purchased an antique house (c. 1830) in Old Lyme, CT. It has a large built in safe manufactured by Edwards & Kershaw. It is located in a small pantry area which we are converting to a bar but would love to gather as much information about the safe and find a qualified person to restore it.
If you could help with any information, it would be greatly appreciated.
I'll start off with the basic history of the company.
Edwards & Kershaw, Safe & Lock Manufacturers, Boston, MA (1857-1885)
Oliver Edwards of Eaton MA was first employed by his brother Hugh, before becoming a partner in the firm of Edwards & Kershaw. Hugh Edwards was a blacksmith until about 1830 when he formed a partnership with a Mr. Albert Bisbee for the manufacturer of locks and safes. Oliver left the employment of his brother in the mid 1850's to begin making safes with Robert Kershaw. Other members of the firm included, Charles E. Kershaw and their bookkeeper Francis A. Perry.
Charles Dickens Edwards at an early age learned the safe and lock manufacturing business, later becoming a senior member of the firm, Edwards & Kershaw, Safe and Lock Manufacturers, Boston, MA. When a branch was established in Montreal, Quebec, under the name of the Union Safe and Lock Company, Charles Edwards became manager from 1857 until 1861, when another Kershaw (son of one of the original members of the firm) joined him, the name of the company changed to "Kershaw & Edwards", under which name the Montreal branch operated until 1871.
So the basic dates that we have to look at for your safe are from the mid 1850's to the mid 1880's.
I would be more than happy to look at your safe to evaluate it and/or answer any specific questions about.
As far as having it recondition or restoration work done, there are only about 1/2 dozen or so people in the entire US doing this type of work, fortunately for you two of them are nearby. However that will still require your safe being taken to them, and of course returned. You can contact them to discuss arrangements, costs etc.
NOTE: As restoration work is NOT the primary concern of any of these businesses, they will be working on it between other jobs, and they may infact have several safes ahead of you. restoration work may take several months so you need to have patience.
1. Precision Lock & Safe
516-616-0854 Dov & Elaad Israeli
240 Jericho Turnpike,
Floral Park, NY 11001
516-752-3893 Neal Krazalowski
112 Newtown Road,
Plainview, NY 11803
Depending on your skills you can also possibly do the restoration work as a DIY project. If you don't have the skills, then you may want to approach a local college to see if their art department has any interest taking it on as a restoration project. While this could save you a bunch of money, it may take several semesters or years, as it would be part of their teaching projects, and not for your benefit. If they don't want to take it on, they might also have some talented artist that would be willing to work for some $$$'s.
As far as the safe itself, I would need very good photos to answer any specific questions concerning the container.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.