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Antique Safes/Hall Safe & Lock


body of safe
body of safe  

second set of doors
second set of doors  
I recently bought a house with a huge Hall Safe & Lock Co. safe in the basement.  They think the foundation for the basement was poured, the safe was lowered in, and then the house was built around it.  This was in 1959.
The handle has a serial number of 118745.
I have two questions:  
One, I'm wondering how old it is.
Two, I'm wondering how to clean it.  It is in the furnace/well water equipment room, so the safe has its fair share of mold and accumulated dirt.
You can't tell from the picture, but above the painted mural someone has tried to use black paint to cover the words "Grand Central Hotel".  We are about 8 hours from NYC, so I doubt it's referring to the famous hotel from the last two centuries there.  I am still trying to find out the original owner of this house and perhaps that will give me a clue where this safe came from. I love a good mystery!

Hi Gaby,

based on your serial number your safe would have been built around 1885ish  (1884-1886).

The beautiful art work and mural would have been mimicked on the exterior doors, so yes, someone has painted the exterior of the safe loosing the original art.

As far as cleaning, any automotive soaps, cleaners etc. will work on your safe.    For stubborn, caked on dirt, if you can't get it off with a fingernail, you might try light scrubbing with 00 stainless steel wool.    If you are scrubbing hard enough to damage the paint, you are scrubbing too hard.    Other cleaners that work well would include "Pledge" cleaner and/or furnisher polish.    Areas that have rust would need to have the rust removed, cleaned and a touch up, rust resistive paint installed.

If the safe has moisture issues inside the safe, there are numerous air dryer units that you can buy to keep it under control, however if the safe has a "wet" interior, then it will have to be dried out.    Open all of the safe doors and set up a heater/blower to blow warm dry air into the safe.   this will take about 1-2 weeks to warm it up and to suck the moisture out of the walls.

Hope this helps,    good luck with your "history-mystery"!

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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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