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Antique Safes/Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe

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Question
QUESTION: Is there a way to tell by the serial number how old this safe is, also we cannot find the combination.  Is there a way to open without damage?  thank you in advance.

ANSWER: Hi Dayna,

Unfortunately, there are no records available for HHM to accurately tell you when any given safe was made.    I can look at the safe, and along with the serial number do some comparisons with some known safes to come up with a time frame that your safe was possibly made between.

As far as opening the safe - again, no factory records exist, so this leaves you with only two options -

1.   You can test dial all possible combinations for the lock installed on your safe, or

2.   You can have it opened by a safe technician from a local safe company.

Check your local yellow pages under safes & vaults for a local company.    I generally don't recommend using locksmiths for safe work as they may not have the training, knowledge or tools to work on your safe without causing excessive damage or charging exhorbant prices.

As for anyone opening the safe and damaging it - I would never recommend using anyone who indicated they could open the safe but would ruin it in the process, any more than I would a mechanic who indicated he could change your oil, but would ruin the engine in the process.

Discuss the project with your local safe company to determine possible courses of action and costs.   You should be expecting between $300 to $500 as a reasonable fee to have it opened and repaired.   Parts should not be necessary if it is done correctly.   Manipulation may be an option, ONLY if you have a trained, competent safe tech available.

Hope this helps,    If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.



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

Herring Safe
Herring Safe  
QUESTION: Hey Andy, I have attached a pic of the safe and from what I could read of the S/N was 5148476 (the 6 was questionable); thanks for your help.

Answer
Hi Dayna,

I'm not sure what number you are looking at, but it is not a serial number for an HHM safe.

Your safe is a late 1950's or early 1960's HHM safe.    HHM was acquired by Diebold around 1959, and many of the late model safes were identical - though some had HHM logo's and some had Diebold logo's.   This were light duty, small business or personal record safes, providing minimum protection from fire or heat - ONLY.   These are NOT burglary resistive safes, and should NOT be used for overnight storage of valuables.

The lock on the safe is probably an S&G 6720 series, 3 wheel lock.   The dialing sequence for it is:

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 - around 90-95.

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 decide to try to open it yourself, set up a spreadsheet with all possible combinations (about 1,000,000), and dial using the above sequence.

as mentioned earlier, your other option would be contacting a local safe company.

Hope this helps,

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

Organizations
Safecrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
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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