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Antique Safes/combo dial sequence


My safe
My safe  
I forget the dial sequence for my Gibraltar safe from the Howe safe & Scale co.

Hi Robert,

First we need to correctly ID your safe, so I'll start off with the basics or known info.   The Howe Safe & Scale Company was NOT a manufacturer of safes - they simply relabeled and sold safes as part of their business.   The "relabeling" was done for advertising purposes - obviously you wanted people to come back to YOUR business and not another companies.

Secondly, the name "Gibraltar" was just another advertising ploy.   You wanted customers to think that they were getting the best product available and so these little safes were advertised as "As strong as the Rock of Gibraltar".   Most of these safes actually had a decal depicting "the Rock".

Now for some basic history of this company:
  The history of the Howe Scale Company begins with Frank M. Strong of Vergennes and Thomas Ross designing and patenting a ball bearing scale for the Sampson Scale Company of Vergennes, Vermont.  
  In Spring 1857 John Howe Jr. of Brandon, Vermont, took over Strong and Ross's patents and began to manufacture their designs under the name Howe Scale Company. The Howe Scale Company became world-renowned, earning several awards at fairs and exhibitions, including the gold, silver, and bronze medals at the 1867 Paris Exhibition against competitors from all over the world.
  During their many years of business (1856-1961) they sold many items other than scales, including safes, though they were not a manufacture.   Several of the companies that made safes which were sold by the Howe Scale Company include Victor Safe & Lock Company, and the J. Baum Safe Company.  

Based on the photo that you have provided, it is more than likely that your little safe is from the Victor Safe & Lock Company.   Victor Safe & Lock Company was in business from 1885 until they were acquired by The Safe Cabinet Company in 1920.   Your safe appears to be of the style that I would expect to see, from between 1900-1920.

Assuming that you have a 100 number dial and a three wheel lock, the dialing sequence for your safe should be:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops - should be between 80-90.

Note:   Left is counter clockwise, right is clockwise.   Do not count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.   For instance if your first number is 50, you will turn the dial counter clockwise (left), stopping the FOURTH time the number 50 arrives at the index mark.    It doesn't matter where you start, the only item of importance is dialing left and counting 50 once, 50 twice, 50 three times, stopping on 50 the fourth time.

Similarly, dial the remaining two numbers.     If the dial does NOT stop during the final sequence then you have either made a dialing error, or the numbers are not correct.   If you still can't get it to open, then it may be time to contact a professional safe technician from a local safe company (not a locksmith) to have them check it out.

You can check your yellow pages under "safes & vaults" for a nearby company.   If you don't have one, then let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.

Hope this helps.  

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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

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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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