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Antique Safe 1  
QUESTION: I just purchased this antique safe, and I haven't been able to find any information related to it. Would you be able to tell me the brand/year, and possibly how much it is worth? Thank you!

ANSWER: Daniela, interesting safe you have there.  Almost 100% sure it was made by Herring Safe of NYC in the late 1860's.  However the handle doesn't look like Herring.  Can you take a picture with the door open and more importantly one of the combination lock inside the door?  Doug

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QUESTION: Mr. MacQueen, thank you so much for your quick response!
The most interesting part about this safe -- I thought -- is that it has not been open for many, many years. The last owner inherited it and never saw it open. It belonged to a wealthy family in Mexico.
In fact, I am hiring a team of people to open it soon. Do you have any tips? They are recommending to drill a whole right beside the combination lock, I don't love the idea. I would love to have your opinion on this.
Once again, thank you!

Attempting to dial it open is obviously the best way on an unknown situation.  Second best is to attempt a back attack.  Drill several holes through the back and disassemble the lock.  No sophisticated equipment is needed other than a drill, extra long flat blade screwdriver and a strong little flashlight.  I used to do this all the time.  Obstructions such as an inner door will prevent that method from working, but it is worth a try. If that doesn't work post back to me.  Doug  

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Doug MacQueen


This unusual and highly innovative safe from the later 1800's is a Corliss. William, the much younger brother of George Corliss of steam engine fame, spent several years perfecting this design and it was first displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia U.S. Centennial Exhibition. I do extensive patent research helping me in the study of antique U.S. safes and safe locks. Repairs and part making for antique U.S. safes of the early to mid 1800's, both key and combination. Also the study of early round door chest designs up to and including cannonball safes of the early 1900's.


40 years in the lock and safe trade with a stint in bank service work. Openings, repairs and moving of safes of all types.

Charter member Safe and Vault Technicians Association SAVTA, National Safemans Association NSO, National Antique Safe Association NASA. No longer current.

SAVTA monthly magazine

CMS (Certified Master Safecracker- NSO) and CPS (Certified Professional Safe Technician - SAVTA)

Awards and Honors
2nd place national combination manipulation contest 1986 and now in 2016 1st place

Past/Present Clients

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