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Antique Safes/Marvin and Co Safe


Marvin Safe Co
Marvin Safe Co  

We recently purchased a piece of property that had a shed full of items, mostly construction and antiques. In there was a Marvin Safe Co. safe. It's dimensions are: Height 52" Width 38" Depth 28 1/4". It is, sadly, missing two wheels and is locked. It's really beautiful but it's just too big and heavy to put in our home. I would like to sell the safe to someone who would really appreciate it and I have no idea what it is worth and whether I should have the safe opened before selling it or if that will damage the safe too much. What is it worth? Should I have the safe opened? What is a fair cost for having a safe opened?

Hi Holly,

Very nice safe though you have some decisions to make.

In its current condition (locked up / unknown combo), it basically has a negative value - that being the cost to open it and recover the combination.    Cost should be between $350-$500 but that will depend on where you are located, and assumes that you have a competent safe company locally.    Distances can easily add travel time and cost to having the safe opened.

Generally I NEVER recommend having safes worked on by locksmiths as they simply don't have the necessary training, knowledge and tools to work on safes - especially antiques like this one.   A competent, professional safe technician may be able to open this safe by manipulation, but drilling is also a viable alternative, and if done correctly, the SINGLE small hole (usually 1/4" or smaller) can be easily repaired.    Drilling if done correctly will not damage the safe or the lock, and will not ruin it or cause it to lose any potential antique value.

As far as replacement casters/wheels there are a number of companies that make very similar type cast wheels.   I would recommend replacing all of them at the same time so they look the same and are exactly the same size.   Hopefully the caster supports are not damaged as well, as this would definitely cost some money to repair or replace.

As far as answering "what the safe may be worth", until it is open so that we can see it in its entirety, I can't offer an evaluation.

As for selling it to someone who will appreciate it - this isn't going to be as easy as you might think.   Generally most people want to buy a safe like this for display purposes as it does not meet any current standards for fire resistance or burglary protection.   In its current condition it would need a lot of work to bring it up to display condition.    Even then you will need to do a lot of advertising on places like Ebay, Craigs List, or local adds to try to find a buyer.
While there are people out there, looking to buy a safe like this, unfortunately there is no central location to bring buyers and sellers together - the market is simply too small to justify this type of concern.

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 whom I might know and/or would recommend in your area.

Your Marvin Safe is an antique, and is probably from the late 1880's.    If you would like an evaluation of it, once you have opened it up, I would be more than happy to look at it.

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 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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. 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

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 - 2013 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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