You are here:

Antique Safes/Tann strong room door


J Tann 35157
J Tann 35157  

We recently purchased a house, with medieval origins but also a substantial Edwardian extension built, we believe in around 1913.

In the present kitchen which incorporates at least 2 of the original rooms there is a strong room which, we suspect was originally used for keeping silver for the dining room.

The strong room door is discretely covered by a conventional wooden door.

The safe plate shows “J Tann Newgate St London”, however I cannot find a similar plate in the various online resources.

I see from your previous answers that you have been able to date safes from the serial numbers, does this apply to strong room doors also? The serial number, which is on the end of one of the locking bolts, is 35157.

I would be interested to know if this is a genuine John Tann door and also any information you may have on the age of this item.

I would also be interested to know how common this type of installation was.

I have attached some images of the door.


Hello Mark,

Thank you for your question and the pictures of your John Tann strongroom.  The serial number indicates it was manufactured between 1912 and 1913.

Newgate Street was home to John Tann's London office for many years, firstly at number 11 Newgate Street adjacent to the notorious Newgate Prison where it was said that employees on the upper floors could witness executions in the prison yard, so in 1912 they moved further up the road to number 177 - around the time your door was made.

It was common practice for large late Victorian and early Edwardian houses to incorporate 'silver rooms', usually in the basement. They often housed a table or bench where servants could clean and polish silverware after it was used.  Silver room walls were normally brick built and fitted with a fairly basic, single plate strongroom door.  Over the years I have been asked to evaluate many such installations, mostly in beautiful country houses.

There were a number of Tann imitators but yours in the real thing.  The safe plate is fairly commonplace although they usually feature the number of their office in Newgate Street, either No.11 or No.117.

I trust you will find this reply useful.  If so, could you take a moment to rate it?


Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy  

Antique Safes

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.