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Antique Safes/Vintage safes


Hi Terry, I hope you can help me, I am looking for a place to start on how to find out about four small/medium safes I have to find a home for. One is by Hamilton & Co makers to the Royal Mint, another is a Milners Patent with an enamel plate, the third I can't see a manufacturers name, but it has a copper (I think) plate with By Her Majesty's Royal Letter Patent on it;there is a fire resistant Milners safe and also a small, hard to identify one, which has a moulded design like a window arch on the door.
Can you tell me anything about these do you think? Also, if they might have any value, and if so, how do I go about selling them, please?
Thank you.

Hi Dee,

First I have to start off with one of my "pet peeve" words - Vintage!   This is one of the two most misused, abused words in the English language, concerning "old stuff".   Vintage ONLY applies to the harvest of a grape OR the bottling of a wine.   While I'm aware that several of the "URBAN Slang" dictionaries are beginning to recognize it as applying to, or being used to describe "old stuff", it is little more than a bastardization of the language.

SO - you have "OLD" or possibly "ANTIQUE" safes, but you do not have "VINTAGE" safes.

Obviously without actually seeing your safes I have no way of evaluating them and/or assigning values to them, so the best that I can give you are some basics.     There are two other guys on this same site (AllExperts - Antique safes) that are both from the UK and specialize in English and European safes.    Tom Gordon and Mike Palmer may be able to shed more light on what you have, how old they are and their values.

In general, the majority of the English safe makers during the late 1800's and early 1900's built virtually identical type safes.    With the exception of the name plaques, handles and locks these safes are VERY similar.    Problem is, because of the large numbers available, this artificially lowers the values.

Generally most of the English safes that I've seen on the market have been going for about 185-275 British pounds ($200 to $300 US), though I think this is too low, however value is all about condition AND quantities available.

You may want to check in with some local antique stores to see what similar safes to yours might go for to get a better feel for your area.

Selling safes is just like selling anything else - advertise!    Whether you use eBay, Craigs List, local advertisements or by going through local antique dealers or auction houses - you have to let people know they are for sale.    Antique dealers and auction houses are good ways to sell, though they general charge up to about a 30% commission for doing the work.

Having multiple safes make using an auction house a really good idea as they tend to advertise to a large audience, and you have a bigger potential of having people who may be interested in collecting safes.    I've seen safes go for 2-3 times their evaluated values at auction - but I've also seen them go for less!

Hope this helps.    If you would like me to look at the safe further, I would need photos of each.    Again either Mike Palmer or Tom Gordon are going to have a much better knowledge of English and European safes than I am.

Good luck.

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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. 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

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 - 2013 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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