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Antique Safes/W.E.Brain



Hello Mike.  I am trying to put a value on an old safe I have and have attached pictures of it.  Any help you can offer would be appreciated.  Thank you.

Hello Mary,

Thank you for your question.  W E Brain was one of a host of small safe makers who emerged in the late Victorian era.  This particular model is an example of a construction method called 'four corner bent', where a single sheet of mild steel was bent four times to form the top, bottom and two sides of the body.  A separate mild steel plate was added at the back and the door hung at the front.  This method was common between1890 and 1914 and today is considered totally obsolete and should not be used to secure large sums of cash, valuables or important documents.

So, safes of this type and age are now simply decorative and have no security function.  Consequently they have only modest values  The best way to get a feel for its worth is to visit ebay and search on 'antique safes'.  There are always a few safes of this type for sale.  Ignore the 'buy now' prices, they inevitably ask far too much and seldom sell.  The market is a little slow at the moment and those that sell fetch around 140.

It would probably fetch more at auction but you have the added cost of getting it to the auction rooms and as the body is full of sand and sawdust, it is quite heavy.  If it doesn't sell, you have the further expense of taking it away.

If you found this answer useful, please take a moment to rate it.  Many thanks.

Good luck,

Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

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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