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Antique Safes/Replacement Lock


I recently purchased an antique safe with a very damaged lock.  I believe the safe was made in 1922 and the lock says gary on the dial.  Are replacements available.  I have the lock out.

Hi Mark,

I'm not sure where you got the 1922 from, but I can tell you that it does NOT say "GARY" on it.   The Gary Safe Company didn't even start until the 1960's, and they were out of Los Angeles.    Also, safes are ONLY considered antique if they are over 100 years old!

More than likely, your safe was from the "CARY" Safe Company, out of Buffalo, NY.   This company was in business from around 1878 until about 1929, so while the safe MAY have been made during the late 20's, the manufacturer NEVER put a date of manufacture on the safe, which is why I'm curious about where you came up with this date.

As I have probably the most accurate serial number listing for this company, I would be happy to see what you actually have, to see if I can come up with a date for you.

As the CARY Safe Company used a number of different locks over the years, I will not only have to ID the safe, but also the lock - THEN you will have some info to start searching for a lock.

As far as "replacement" locks - there is no such thing.    Locks used by this company have not been made or available in 85 to 120 years - depending on the lock.    Any lock available is simply a "donor" part, removed from a safe which was in too bad of shape to repair or restore.    What few "DONOR" parts that are available, are all going to be used, in "AS IS" condition, and may not be cheap.     Many of these locks may be in someone's lock collection, meaning that you need to be serious about buying it ($$$$'s) if you even want them talking to you.

Last item, what leads you to believe that the lock is damaged to the point of replacement???    You aren't batting a thousand so far in your identification or assessment of the safe, so before I tell you to buy a used replacement lock which may cost between $500 to $750, lets go over the lock to see what may be damaged.    We might be able to save you a bunch of money, -----  unless there is a part of the "story" that you aren't telling me!    Like someone opened the safe using an axe and explosives!!!

Ok, I'm going to need photos of your safe to ID it, try to age it for you, and more importantly so that we can tell if the lock is repairable or not.

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.  

Antique Safes

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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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