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Antique Safes/John Tann safe



 Mr. Palmer you seem to be a knowledgeable fellow on Tann vaults. I am considering acquiring a used one and have come across one for sale in my area (please see images). Since finding this I have tried to become familiar with Tann vaults but I am not 100% certain what this model is. I believe it might be a 5920 TRTL 30X6 but honestly I don't hold much stock in that guess. I note that the label inside indicates:

"Class V3 Safe, tested to SIS 837501 standards, fire resistance class A 120...manufactured by AB VARDESKYDD, a member of the John Tann Security Group..."

 My goal is to find something that is truly a safe, reliable storage unit for firearms. My immediate concern is the lack of bolts facing the door end opposite the hinge. I cannot find any evidence of Tann vaults  that follow this design. Is this something to worry about? Can you identify the model? Do you have any info on this particular vault (i.e. what upper limit of valuables stored here should be?). Do Tann vaults typicall have floor anchoring systems or do people just rely on their weight to keep them from being carted off by thieves?

 Thanks in advance and sorry if this question rambles...

ANSWER: Hello Matthew,

Thank you for your enquiry and the pictures of this bizarre safe.  Firstly, in the UK and Europe we refer to free standing security containers as safes - vaults are large rooms into which you can walk, and are secured by heavy vault doors.

At first this safe looked very much like a large Tann Super Treasury.  This was made by their Swedish subsidiary AB Vardeskydd and had the same hinges built flush into the body.  It was an excellent, high security safe.

What I can't explain is where the bolts are on the leading edge of the door!  If I remember correctly, the Super Treasury had moving bolt-work on all four sides - so this makes no sense at all.  Without these bolts, the door cannot be totally secure.  I notice another oddity - what looks line an alarm contact sensor on the interior - what purpose would that serve unless the safe was left unlocked?  

It obviously has to be some sort of 'special' but I can think of no reason why anyone would want a safe of this quality, with 25% of its bolt-work missing.

Class V3 was a Swedish mark and I have no idea what SIS 837501 was.  In answer to your last question, safes weighing over a ton (now 1000kg) are not required to be anchored.

My advice is to stay well clear of it and look for something more conventional.


Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Leading edge
Leading edge  

Locking mechanism
Locking mechanism  
QUESTION: Hello Mr. Palmer,

 Thank you for the thorough, quick response! My mistake on referring to the item as a 'vault'; we call them safes here in Canada too.

 As a follow up, I did visit the safe and found that it did, in fact, have bolts on the leading edge of the door. I also learned that the interior alarm is supposed to be an orientation-sensor. The idea here is that if it is tipped, an alarm is triggered.

 All in all, this does look like a very skookum unit, and the ask is only $700. Transport will be costly (likely need a truck with a Hiab crane) but I am drawn to it and am thinking of purchasing. My follow up question here would be to ask for your guess on the weight of the safe. The seller originally claimed 800 lbs but when I asked him how certain he was, he admitted that he wasn't sure. I've seen info sheets suggesting these things can weight >5000 lbs. Any thoughts?


Hi Matthew,

Now it makes sense.  This is definitely a Tann Super Treasury.  It weighs 2070kgs (approx 4500 lbs) and in the UK it the contents are insurable up to 100,000, so a very good quality safe.  $700 is approximately 375 UK pounds which is an excellent price for a safe of this quality.  Of course you are correct, getting a safe of this weight installed is going to cost quite a bit as you are going to need specialists in handling high grade safes, but as we observed earlier, it won't need bolting down.

You have a genuine bargain and a perfect safe for securing firearms.

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Best regards,

Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

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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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