Antique Safes/Antique safe
QUESTION: Please review attached photos. We would appreciate any info you can share w/ us. The safe opens as you'll see, but I do not know if the combination lock is still working.
ANSWER: Hi Doretta,
Herring, Farrell & Sherman were three different safe manufacturer's, who were "partners" for a brief period between 1867 to 1872 - which gives us a time frame for your container.
The "partnerships" were actually much longer than this, though NOT using all three names. The Herring & Farrell partnership began in the 1850's. The two companies "merged in 1861, though it wasn't formalized until 1869.
There were actually three separate factories. The Herring factory was in New York, the Farrell factory was in Philadelphia, and the Sherman factory was also in New York - though it appears that Mr. Sherman was strictly making safes FOR Mr. Herring.
In 1869, Herring & Company began production and use of the Dexter lock, which you have on your safe - so this would further narrow down possible dates your safe would have been made to between 1869-72.
With the patent date listing on the front of the safe of December 12th, 1871 - your safe would have most likely been made in 1872, and sold by the "group" prior to the dissolution and/or use of the name being ended.
As far as your questions about the possibility of the lock not working - I would recommend that it be cleaned, serviced and inspected by a competent, trained safe technician, who is familiar with antique safes. The combination can either be recovered or reset, and the operation of the safe checked out to ensure that it works correctly.
Check with a local safe company to find out if their safe technician is familiar with, and/or can service your safe. Note: Just because they say "yes", does not mean that they are competent - so just like any other item that you own like your car or furnace - it is your job to determine whether or not YOU believe that they are competent. You can query how many of these locks they have worked on, how much they charge, what their service warranty policy is, etc. etc. etc. If you aren't happy with the answers, and/or they appear vague or elusive, then they might not be the right company.
What other questions do you have???
Your safe is actually a "Herring" safe
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you very much for this I teresting history on the safe. I recently found out that the lock is in working order and we have the combination as well. Would you know how I could find out an approx. value for this item? Thank you again.
I'm currently reading and recreating a book written by Herring from 1867, concerning his manufacturing safes from the early 1840's through the late 1860's, though much of the book relates to his work creating a "fire-proof" safe, with the majority of it being letters from satisfied customers whose safes had survived various conflagrations!
Prior to the late 1800's, fire was more of a problem than burglary, so the majority of the safe manufacturers concentrated their efforts to providing protection from heat. Herring was literally on the forefront of these endeavors.
I would be more than happy to look at your safe to evaluate it 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: email@example.com
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.