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Antique Safes/Old Cary safe


I have 13 pics of an old safe, presumably a jeweler’s safe, that I own.  To what email address should I send the pics?

The safe was in the 1882 vintage building that I bought in 1998.  I have used it daily, haven't closed the outer doors.  I have the outer combination and have seen the previous owner work the combination, but I'm doing something wrong because I can't get it to work.

I have queried the Buffalo, NY, Historical Society about existing records from the Cary Safe Company, but they say none exist.  Hibbard & Richardson was a manufacturer's agent firm that existed in Milwaukee between 1895 and 1907.  I have found only one reference to M.J. LaGassee and that was a mention in The Optical Review, November 1909, page 61, that LaGassee had sold his jewelry business to J.A. Gleason.  The safe is approximately 53" high (no counting the wheels), 37" wide, and 29" deep.

My wife and I retired at the end of 2014 and closed our retail kite & flag store.  We plan to rent out the retail space and would like to dispose of the safe either by selling, if it has some value, or donating it to the local historical society.  So, I'm interested in getting a value on it might be worth and an approximate date of manufacture.

I appreciate any help you can give.  Thank you.

Hi Mike,

First off, let me address the "Vintage" building comment.   Unless the building was part of a grape harvest or wine bottling, then it can't possibly be a "vintage" building.   This is one of the most misused words next to patina that I see on a regular basis.    While the building may have been built in 1882 - it is simply an OLD building - not vintage!    If you really want to see some old buildings, visit Annapolis, Maryland.   They have so may buildings that are over 400 years old, that they don't even consider them historical - just plain "old".

The Historical Society is correct - when manufacturers go out of business, the records simply disappear.   This is pretty much standard with ALL businesses even today.   No one plans on their documents becoming "historical documents" at some point, and so they simply don't archive them.

I've got a pretty good listing of serial numbers and dates for safes made from this company, however jewelers chests were NOT designed as stand alone containers, which means that yours MAY NOT have a useful serial number.    I'll have to compare it to known chests to see if I can come up with any info for you.

As far as "donating" the safe to a historical society - unless your safe or container has some significant contribution or belonged to a significant individual, then it has little historical value.    If you don't already have documentation of these items, then it has none.

I would be more than happy to look at your container, but will need photo of 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 44 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900'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.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and 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. Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes". 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 Safe & Vault Technicians Association

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

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 - 2015 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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