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Antique Safes/Jacob Cartwright 2 door safe


Hi I would like to know more about this Jacob Cartwright 2 door safe, I have tried to find information online about it but I am not having much luck.
Maybe an idea of what it's worth if anything?
Thank you

Hello Jane,

Thank you for your question and the picture of your safe.  

It is not surprising that you couldn't find any information on Joseph Cartwright as they probably went out of business around 100 years ago.  I can't tell you much about the maker but the type of safe in your picture is known as 'square cornered'.  It predated metal presses so it was constructed from individual sheets of mild steel riveted to an angle-iron frame.  This created sharp, angular corners, hence the name. The gap between the inner and outer body will be filled with sand and sawdust, a primitive fire resistant compouund.  This will now be compacted at the bottom of the safe and no longer effective.

This type of construction dates to around 1870 to 1890 and due to the ease with which they can be prised open, they are not recommended to secure cash, valuables or important documents.  Consequently they have very little value.  Even scrap metal dealers are reluctant to take them as the sand and sawdust messes up their yards.

However, there are some collectors who take these late Victorian safes and restore them to a high standard and sell them on as Victorian curios, cocktail cabinets, etc.  To get some idea of value, log in to ebay and search for 'antique safes'.  Ignore the 'buy now' items, they always ask far too much and seldom sell.

If you found this information useful, perhaps you could take a minute to rate this answer.


Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy  

Antique Safes

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Mike Palmer


I earn my living identifying safes and suggesting cash limits for risk advisors and insurance surveyors in the UK. I'm am pleased to comment on safes manufactured in the UK or Mainland Europe but I am unable to accept questions regarding safes made in the USA or elsewhere.


I have been in the UK safe industry for 40 years and have one of the largest archive databases of old safe literature and serial numbers in the country. I started with Chubb in 1960 and became Assistant Manager of their Bank Security Division before moving on to become the Insurance Liaison Manager with the John Tann Group. I became Sales & Marketing Director for Guardian Safes Limited before semi-retiring. I am a Fellow of the Security Institute and ex-Chairman of Eurosafe UK, a trade body representing the interests of UK safe makers and distributors. I now work as a part time consultant.

I am an advisor to the Safe Committee of the Association of Insurance Surveyors, a Fellow of the Security Institute and founding Chairman of Eurosafe UK.

I have had literally scores of articles published in various security trade publications. So far this year I have had 24 features published in various journals including Keyways, Professional Security, Pawnbroker and Safe India. I have published one book, Peckham Boy, the life and times of the world's greatest safe cracker.

No relevant educational credentials.

Awards and Honors
In 1997 I was awarded the annual shield by the Association of Insurance Surveyors for "..outstanding services to crime prevention"

Past/Present Clients
I have represented or been an agent for the John Tann Group (Stratford, Ratner, Dreadnought and Tann safes); Churchill Safes, Chubb Safe Co Ltd, SLS Safes, SMP Safes, Dudley Safes and several others

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