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Antique Safes/John Tann Anchor Reliance Safe


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The company I work for are currently refitting a retail property and there is a John Tann safe in daily use that unfortunately we will have to remove. We are interested in finding out some history about this safe and possibly indication of its possible value. We would prefer it to go to a collector or dealer rather than be just disposed of.
Any assistance you can give would be much appreciated

Hello Andy,

Thank you for your question and the pictures.  This John Tann Security Safe was probably manufactured in the early 1930's - if you could find a serial number I could probably date it more accurately - it may be stamped on the end of one of the bolts.

This type of construction was referred to as '12 corner bent' and in its day it would have been considered quite a high security safe, the entire front of the door is lined with 1/2" of drill resistant steel and it has 'saw-proof' corners designed to resist hack-saws.  It probably weights 1/2 ton.

Of course, it would not offer much resistance to today's burglars armed with modern power tools and an angle-grinder would make short work of the drill-proof corners.  Nevertheless the Association of Insurance Surveyors still considers it suitable for a maximum overnight cash holding of 3,000 or 30,000 in domestic valuables.

As to its value, it is hard to say.  A modern safe with a 3,000 cash limit would incorporate lightweight barriers and be prepared for floor anchoring.  Size for size the price of a new one would be around 250 + VAT and delivery.  A dealer would have to refurbish this old safe in accordance with British standards to ensure locking and bolt-work systems were all in order then repaint it and make a margin.  They would also have to collect it with a heavy vehicle and a couple of experienced crew-members so it is not likely to fetch a great deal if sold to a dealer.

Your best bet is to see what sort of prices this type of safe fetches on ebay.  Ignore the 'buy now' offers, they always ask too much and seldom sell.

If you have found this answer helpful, perhaps you could kindly take a moment to rate it.


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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