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Antique Safes/info on inheritated antique safe


QUESTION: Hello, I inherited a safe from my grandfather. I have several combination that I have found in drawers and on slips of papers he had left in his office but none seem to work. On the front of safe it has the eagle symbol with "The hall's safe Co" on it and metal tags with "underwriters laboratories inc. SAFE 516646" and fire classification C T-20 tamper resistant door. Any info and help on ways to open would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

ANSWER: Hi Jami,

With the "UL" labels on the safe, yours would be from during the later years that this company was in business - late 1920's to early 1930's.

I would need a little more info on the safe to try to give you a dialing sequence as Hall's used a number of different types of locks.    Depending on the lock installed, yours may dial LRLR or RLRL.

Basically it should be something like:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops.

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 dial this sequence and it doesn't open, then reverse the directions, trying the RLRL instead.

If it still doesn't open, then you may not have the correct combination, or the lock may be slightly different.   You may need to have it checked by a safe technician from a local safe company to determine the exact lock installed to determine the correct dialing sequence for that lock.    If the combination isn't correct, then you will need the safe tech to open the safe.

Hope this helps,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


QUESTION: Here are pics of dial an tags

Hi Jami,

The original info I gave you is correct assuming that the "LOCK" is a Sargent & Greenleaf, as well as the dial.    Some times locksmiths will mismatch manufacturer parts.

The dialing sequence I gave you is correct for an S&G Lock.

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops.

Note:   There are ONLY three reasons why a safe lock will not open - in order, they are:

1.   Incorrect dialing sequence, operator errors,
2.   Incorrect combination, wrong numbers,
3.   Mechanical problems.

Based on the info you have provided so far, I have to assume that NONE of the combinations, or sequences of numbers you have found, are correct for this safe.

The UL Labels have nothing to do with your safe, other than to indicate the "STANDARDS" it was built to comply with - in this case it is a one hour, fire resistive, office safe, which is "tamper resistant", not burglary resistant.    That's it, nothing more, nothing less.    Safes which are over 50 years old do not meet any current standards, so this container should NOT be used for overnight storage of any cash, jewelry or valuable documents.

As far as getting it open, you have two options - 1. you can test all of the 1,000,000 possible combinations that may be on this lock, or  2.  you can contact a local safe company to have their safe technician open the safe.   Cost to have it opened and repaired, with the combination either recovered or reset should be in the $300 to $500 range.

Hope this helps,  

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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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