Antique Safes/Mosler, Bahmann & Co Antique Safe
QUESTION: This was my grandfathers and I have no idea as to the age. It stands about 4 feet tall. I would have to imagine its about 100 years old. I'm getting ready to have moved to my area as it is about 300 miles away. Any idea what I have and what it could be worth after a restoration? All parts are in place, doors swing and dials spin. It's locked in the open positions.
ANSWER: Hi Paul,
Beautiful safe, and older than you would expect.
Mosler, Bahmann & Company started in 1867 after taking over the old Union Safe Company, by Gustav Mosler and Fred Bahmann, after Bahmann broke up his partnership with Carl Diebold (Diebold-Bahmann Safe Company.
In 1874 shortly after Mosler's death, his heirs (Moses, William & Julius Mosler) left to form the Mosler Lock and Safe Company.
Bahmann continued the Mosler, Bahmann and Company name until sometime in the late 1890's (around 1898ish).
Both Mosler Safe & Lock Company AND Mosler, Bahmann and Company were manufacturing safes in Cincinnati until about 1891, when Mosler moved to Hamilton, Oh.
So at a "MINIMUM" your safe would be at least 117 years old!
As far as "value" goes, I ONLY deal with what you have now! I don't speculate on what your interpretation of "restoration" might actually be! I would be more than happy to look at your safe, and if you ever actually have restoration work done on it, then I would be more than happy to look at it again.
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.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for the quick response. I'm having it transported to my area in about two weeks. Once I get it close by, I will take high resolution photos of exterior and interior like you requested. There's no need for an official report, I was just curious as to what I had. I appreciate the history you gave also. Would it help to have serial numbers? Someone told me its possible these old safes contained teargas containers inside the doors when tampered with. Is this anything I need to be aware of before trying to remove the interior panel? Thanks again.
As noted, our "informal" evaluation is at no charge, once we get all of the photos. Formal evaluations are generally not necessary UNLESS you need to establish the safe as antique for insurance reasons, estate sales or other similar functions.
There should be no issues taking the service panels off of the rear of the door. These were designed to allow access to the bolt work and the lock to perform service and/or maintenance.
That being said, that doesn't mean that a previous owner hasn't "added" something, so do a "look before you leap" kind of thing, Inspect the back cover and open it carefully just incase. I've opened thousands of similar safe service panels and have never found anything, but that doesn't mean that I'm not "wary" just the same. Tear gas canisters were available from the 1930's until about 1980, and were add on devices - NOT provided by manufacturers. I routinely find these devices still attached to safes, but usually to the back side of the service panel in plain view. You DO NOT want to mess with one of these devices - however based on the condition of your safe and what I've seen from the photos, I think that black widow spiders and/or getting a tetanus shot for the rust, are your biggest concerns.
This is a great looking safe, and just needs some tender loving care to bring it back to its original glory. I've got a similar Mosler, Bahmann & Company safe in my showroom, unfortunately it was painted over by a previous owner, and we haven't had a chance to restore it yet.
I'm looking forward to seeing all of the photos when you get a chance to send them.