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Antique Safes/John Morrison Trunk Safe



Hello, I have this old metal trunk safe that my dad had gotten when I was a little kid. I am now 28. We have never known anything about it, and it has just been sitting in the garage ever since we got it. I was wandering if you could give me some information about it. Value, Rarity, Year, Etc. The trunk is very heavy and is all around still solid. Nothing is missing except the key. But i can still turn the key hole and the locking mechanism still moves freely and locks. I took the mechanism out so that I could unlock  it because I turned the key hole to many times and it locked. It seems to have a three combination locking mechanism on there. Is it also possible to learn the code for it if I bring it to a reputable locksmith? I would like to find a key for it also, but if I come up empty handed it looks like I would be able to fabricate one easily with some rod and grind it down and make an ear on it. Thank you for your time and look forward to hearing back.

Hi Shane,

I'm not sure where you came up with the "John Morrison" or the "Trunk Safe" description, but neither applies to this container as far as a manufacturer or type of container.   I would need MUCH better photos to try to ID the container for you however several come to mind including Victor Safe & Lock Co., and/or Hall's Safe Company.

These "Field Chests" were built prior to WWI and through the end of WWII.    They were built by several different manufacturers though the US Military wanted them all to meet a "standard specification", so many of them WILL appear to be identical, thought they aren't quite.
While the military was by far the largest user of these containers, they were also used by many other companies for many purposes, where they needed to transport or secure valuables.    The Military used them in the field for anything from cash to binoculars and pistols.   Chains would be run through the handles to lock them down.

As far as value, it depends on condition, when it was built etc. etc. etc.     Generally these containers will have the most value to military type collectors.    Generally they are valued between $100 to $500 depending on age and condition.    Obviously not having the keys and combo will lessen the value of the container, though while getting them both will improve it, it will also cost $$$'s, so other than having a working container its kind of a toss up if you are only considering value.
While these containers are not readily available on the market, they are not rare.   I see several each month from people just like you looking for info or values.   So there are still plenty of them available.

Note:   While I don't normally recommend using locksmiths for safe work, as you need keys made for the lock, this may be prudent, however I would recommend that you actually look for a safe company rather than a strictly locksmith company, as they will probably have a well trained locksmith on staff that can make keys for your lock.   Worst case if you can't find someone, you can always ship the lock to me to have keys made.
They will also be able to either recover or reset the combination for your lock.
You can also attempt to hand make a key based on the method you are describing, however I'm not sure why you would go through so much work when it can be done much simpler.  However I'm never one to dissuade someone from their projects.  

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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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