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Antique Safes/milners safe



hi, i was hoping you could help me identify what type/model safe this is and how much its worth. its dimensions are 51x51x66.5cm

Hello Robert,

Thanks for the question and the pictures.  I can't see enough of the door and bolt-work to be certain, but this is probably a Milner List 3 Safe.  This type of construction is known as '4 corner bent banded'.  A single sheet of mild steel was bent 4 times to create the top, bottom and two sides.  A back plate was attached from the outside by fixing to an angle-iron frame.  Because the seams of these safes were very vulnerable, heavy bands were added at the front and back.  Safes of this type of construction date from around 1890 to 1910.  The body is filled with Milners patent 'fire proof' compound of sand, sawdust and alum crystals. Over the years this will have compacted to create large voids in the body through which heat could be conducted so it is now probably useless.

Safes of this age were only designed to defeat basic hand held forcing tools and would not withstand modern power tools.  Consequently they are not recommended to secure cash, valuables or important documents, so they have no commercial function.

However, there are people who collect these old safes and refurbish them to a high standard for resale as cocktail cabinets or whatever.  The best way to get an idea of values is to search for 'antique safes' on ebay.  Ignore the 'buy now' prices, they invariably ask far too much and seldom sell.  If you put this safe up for auction on ebay, make it clear that the buyer collects - the cost of moving these heavy safes can be more than they're worth.

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Many thanks,

Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consulancy

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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