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Antique Safes/Early 1900 Safe Identification


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Good Day,

My Great Great grandfather was a dentist and bought and used a safe for storing gold for fillings. He son later used the safe as he became a dentist as well. The safe has now been passed on to me and I'd love to learn more about it. Rough value would nice to know but not very important since I no plans on ever sellling it since it has my great great grandfathers name written on the front.

Ideally, I'd love to learn what it's made of (iron?), the weight (complete guess but maybe 300-400 pounds?), the year (assuming 1895-1905ish), if it needs to be serviced, and most importantly what it's good for. That is, is it water resistant and fireproof? If fire proof anyway to know for how long and to what temperature and how hot the items inside would get during that time? I'd love to use it as an actual safe for valuables, but if it's not rated for that, I was thinking to use it as a decorative piece in the home such as a side table.

I have the original paper that came with it on the instructions on opening it and that includes the code. The safe is currently unlocked but I haven't tried the code yet but almost positive it hasn't changed. I have the key to the little box inside as well. The front mentions my great great grandfather's name and beneath than another man's name who appears to have been a local safe seller (Arthur B. Curtis) from Massachusetts, and got a patent on safes but I don't know or think he actually made it. There is no reference to the safe company inside or out. While not in the picture I also have the wood drawer that goes in the bottom left. Took the inside front back panel off and the serial number matches the number on the handle on the front and the paper with the combination. There was also the number 49 under the model number. The original owner was born in 1874 and died in 1955. With effort we can push it on wheels on a hard surface. It's roughly 20x20 30 height in inches.

Any thoughts of info would be wonderful especially it's fire rating info and possibly year. Or if you need additional information. Thank you!

Hi Chris,

Your safe appears to be from the "J. Baum Safe & Lock Company", Cincinnati, Oh.   Established in 1893 as the Baum Safe Company, to succeed the Warth-Baum Safe & Lock Company.   Jacob Baum bought out all of Mr. Warth's interest in 1903.   While the name wasn't "officially changed" to "J. Baum Safe & Lock Company" until after Jaoob's death in December of 1915, the name been used since at least 1903.    Jacob's family continued the business until well into the 1920's though very little history appears after Jabob's death.   Great Grandson Matt, indicated to me in a letter that the company was in business until around 1935, though I haven't seen any documentation to this affect.

Arthur B. Curtis was simply a general sales agent for several companies - including "J. Baum Safe & Lock Company".   As far as dates of manufacturer by serial number - unfortunately none exist.    We have to narrow it down based on other items like the lock used, methods of construction, etc.

I would be more than happy to look at your safe for you to see what info I can come up with, though I'm going to need MUCH better photos of it.

As far as "ratings" - this safe has none.    While it was originally designed as a fire "RESISTIVE" safe - NOT fire proof,  it was built before safes were actually tested by any "standards testing agency"    Safes over 50 years old do not meet ANY current standards.
As such your container should ONLY be used as a decorative or display piece of your families history.

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.  

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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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