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Antique Safes/William Adams & Co Safe questions


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Hi. I have a couple questions. I just purchased this safe and was wondering if you could answer some questions for me. It's 55" tall w/wheels, 38" wide and 30" deep. There is no real damage and the rust is surface rust.
1. Can you tell me the age?
2. Can you tell me it's value?
3. I haven't picked it up yet and was wondering what it weights?  I'd like to put it in our living room And want to make sure the floor can support it.
4. Lastly, while I dont want to restore it, I'd like to clean it up and try to remove some of the rust. Any suggestions on how to clean it up?

Thanks very much in advance.


Hi Scott,

The William Adams & Company was in business during the 1850's through the 1870's.    They were the successor company to Adams, Hammond & Co., "Smiths & Machinists" (1840's), manufacturers and sole proprietors of the "Wilder Patent Salamander Safes" in the Boston area.   There were several companies that had "sole" rights to manufacturer Wilder safes, though they were limited to different areas.   For instance Herring had the New York area.

In order to evaluate your safe to narrow down its age and evaluate it, I'm going to need MUCH better photos of the safe.

As far as the weight you are probably looking at around 1200 to 1500 lbs - plan on the heavier weight.    As the safe does not sit flat on the floor the weight is concentrated on the wheels, so you don't have 1500 lbs spread evenly, you have 1500 / 4 = 375lbs, per square inch, so without proper support it is applying a lot of PIN POINT pressure on four points of the floor.   This weight needs to be spread out so the floor will hold it and you won't have major damage.

Several ways of spreading out the weight would be to place blocks of wood or steel under each wheel - the larger the better, for instance a square of 1" thick plywood  44" x 36".    Channel Iron can be place under two wheels on each side, laid perpendicular to the floor joists so that the weight is spread out and supported.     If done correctly you will not need to add any additional support under the floor.    If you have a concrete floor, then don't worry about it!

As far as not wanting to do any restoration work to it, I don't understand this.   You want a rusty block of metal in your living room???   Have you discussed this with your wife???

I wouldn't hesitate to remove the rust and repaint the safe.   Removing the rust is going to leave bear metal anyway, which WILL continue to rust if you don't paint it, so don't be such a baby - get out your palm sander, clean the paint up and repaint it with a good rust preventative paint.   If you want it a bit nicer, finish it with a clear coat.    Originally manufactures used varnish to cover and protect art work on the safes.   As your safe didn't have any art work, other than the makers name plaque, you don't have to worry about it unless you want more of a gloss look.     You can either polish the name plaque or repaint it with a "gold colored paint".    Polish the handle and you are done.
I also wouldn't hesitate to tear out the horrible interior - after all, it isn't original to the safe.    As you need to replace the interior, I wouldn't hesitate to replace it with some beautiful and functional wood.   You can either install shelves or a wine rack that you can use, or try to keep it looking original.   I've probably got some photos of interiors that will help you out.    But for goodness sake if you are going to display it, make it look better!   If you do a good job, you are NOT going to ruin any potential value, in fact the current interior is already doing that for you.

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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