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Antique Safes/Vintage Fichet



newly rehabbed
newly rehabbed  
I have a vintage Fichet safe, date estimates are between 1840-1860. fiully function lock mechanisms to include the main skeleton key lock and 4 click combos. there is also an inner safe with the original lock. I rehabbed and painted the safe ( not the mechanisms) I also have the original keys. what is it worth and how do I go about selling it to a real collector that will know what significance it really has?  it did have to opened at the back, due to not having the keys at the time and has since been repaired

Hi David,

Unless your safe is a bottling of wine or a grape harvest, then it isn't "Vintage", it is Antique!

First question, where did you come up with the 1840-1860 dates???   

While Fichet began making safes in 1840, they didn't merge with Bauche until 1967.   Even though Alexander Fichet died in 1862 and the company changed hands, the name remained the same until the Fichet-Bauche merger in 1967.

I would be more than happy to look at your safe to evaluate it for you, however I think you may have watched too many episodes of "Antique Roadshows"!   Based on the photos that you've provided, I'm inclined to think your safe isn't as old as you are estimating.

1.  You mention selling it to a "real collector".   I'm not sure what that means???   Would that be someone who has two antique safes, or a dozen or a hundred, or perhaps someone who simply likes your safe???

2.  You also mention selling it to someone who "will know what significance it really has".   Again, unless you have some documented, verifiable history, I'm not sure what you are indicating.    Unless you have documented historical proof of the safe being involved in a significant event, and/or tied to a significant individual during the event, then you simply have an antique safe - nothing more, nothing less.

3.  rehabbing or doing restoration work doesn't necessarily ruin or damage any value, however I will need photos of all work done to asses its impact.    In many cases when done correctly it will enhance the value, as most people don't want a rust bucket safe in their living room, they want something they can show off.   Chances are this is not going in a museum, so condition prior to sale is important.

As far as how to go about selling it, you would do it just like any other item that you are interested in selling - eBay, Craig's List or other internet sites are a good way to reach potential customers.    Going through antique dealers or an Auction house is another good way, though you can count on paying a hefty commission.
If you think that you are going to sell it really quickly, then you also better be prepared to lower any "value" ideas that you have.   If time is of the essence to move it, then be prepared for low ball offers.   If you want top dollar, the good news is that there is probably someone who will pay it, however you also need to be prepared to sit on the safe for quite a period of time - possibly up to years.
selling it through dealers or an auction house will target more interested buyers, especially if the auction is well advertised in advance and sold with similar items so that it will bring in a larger group of buyers.

As far as collectors, generally the larger collectors are looking for smaller safes that they can collect dozens of varieties, and maybe one or two really unique safes.    Collectors don't have large collections of large safes, they simply take up too much space.    There are only a handful of large collectors around the US, and generally they have very specialized interests.

Again, I would be more than happy to look at your safe, but will need much better photos, and all documentation that you might have concerning the historical significance of your safe.

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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