Antique Safes/Fur Vault/Safe
I'm rehabbing a building that has an old fur safe on the second floor. I would like to know the make and model of the safe to see if it has any value. The safe was originally brought (crane) in through a large second story window. There is now a large tree that has grown in front of the window making it impossible to remove it the same way it came in.The only way to remove the safe is to have a rigging company take it out via the staircase and out the front door. The safe is in good condition and has been painted. It is cedar lined and has sliding fur hangers mounted in it. There are four wheels and two locks, one combination and one keyed. It measures approx. 76" high x 76" wide x 30" deep, it is quite heavy and my best guess on its weight is approx. 500-700 lbs. There are no visible markings to identify it. If there is any worth or demand for it I might be able to sell it to offset the moving costs. Otherwise it may make more sense to cut it up and scrap it. Could you possibly help me out with this heavy dilemma.
While you do have a very large safe, it would have to be the smallest "FUR Vault" that I've ever seen. Also chances are your "weight" guestimate is way off as well. If it is ONLY 500-700 lbs, then it is NOT "quite heavy"! This would be a VERY LIGHT container.
Most Fur Vaults are made of at least 1/4" plate steel, which weighs approximately 10.5 lbs per square foot. So assuming the size of your safe, and assuming that all 6 sides are ONLY 1/4" steel, the safe would weigh over 1500 lbs, and this would not include the weight of the wood, any insulation material, or the lock and bolt work, so it could easily be around 2000 lbs, based on your measurements.
Also, due to the size of the container, MOST fur vaults are designed to be taken apart (from the inside) so that they can be easily transported to a new location. I've probably moved 20 Fur vaults in the past 25 years, so I know them well.
The doors have to be removed, all of the cedar panels have to be removed AND should be numbered so that they can be replaced in exactly the same position they came out of. The side panels may be screwed to the frame from the inside. Removing the screws allows each panel to be moved individually. After moving it to the new location, every thing can be reassembled in the reverse order, making sure it is in the correct position. You can't swap pieces around.
Again, if your container cannot be disassembled as described, then while it may be a large safe, it was NOT designed as a fur vault - REGARDLESS of what someone used it for.
If it is simply a very large "skeleton" safe, having no insulation other than the cedar lining, then what you have is simply a very large locking cabinet and not a fur vault. Obviously without having a better look at it, all I can do is to offer you the above recommendations.
I would really hate to see you cut something like this up, as something of this size is very unique, and offers a lot of display possibilities, but I do understand the position that you are in.
As far as the make and possible year of manufacturer, I would need MUCH better photos to answer these questions. The safe looks like it might possibly be a Herring-Hall-Marvin, from the 1920's, but again I'll need much better photos.
If you need help moving it, I would recommend that you call my friends at Wilson Safe Company in Philadelphia. They might be able to help or offer you some "local" advice. You can contact them at: 215-492-7100
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.