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Antique Safes/Antique possible "Fichet" from 1800's w skeleton key lock



Hello and thank you, I recently acquired a large safe at an Estate sale. We have no keys, the lock mechanism consists of one regular skeleton key lock surrounded by 4 small mechanisms? ideas about entry? worth before or after drilling/ opening. My hopes would be to not have to have it drilled. Would like to keep it functional. Will provide pictures EEC. Thanks for
your time

Hi David,

yes it certainly looks like a Fichet type safe and lock.

I can't remember if I've seen "THIS" particular lock or not - yet, but I've seen plenty of similar ones.

In general, the basic operation would be that each one of the perimeter locks have to be turned to the correct position to enable the center lock to turn and retract the locking bolt work.

Usually you would start with the 10 o'clock position first, proceeding in a clockwise rotation or   10 - 2 - 4 - 8.   The locks would be rotated fully counter clockwise, and then turned clockwise a designated number of clicks (between 8-15 clicks).   So for instance the number one position might be rotated 4 clicks, #2 = 8 clicks,  #3 = 5 clicks and #4 = 13 clicks.   Then you would insert your key into the center position and rotate it a full revolution to open the lock.

Note:   The possible number of combinations would be dependent upon the "clicks" for each position.

So the first question would be - DO YOU HAVE THE KEY?????   Both the KEY and the Combination are important to opening the lock.   If not, then the rest of the info hardly matters, as the key is an integral part in its operation.

As far as "value" - sorry but I don't evaluate locked up containers.    Basically it currently has a negative value - that being the cost to open and repair the container.

As far as having someone open it - you WILL need someone who not only specializes in antique safes but has a fair understanding of Fichet locks and their operation.    There are possibly only a dozen or so guys in the US that are familiar with these locks.

Even if drilling the safe and lock are the only ways to get it open, you will still need someone who is not only familiar with antique safes, but THIS type of lock.    This rules out an extremely large number of locksmiths and safe techs through out the US.

I would check with your local safe companies to see what they have to say.   based on their responses, it should give you a feeling of whether or not you can use them.

If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you and/or the safe are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know in your area.  

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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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