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Antique Safes/Please tell me more about my new safe


Howe Gibraltar Front
Howe Gibraltar Front  

Howe Gibraltar Interior of Door
Howe Gibraltar Interio  
Hi Mr. Andreasen,

I just purchased this safe at an estate auction.  The combination works well.  The safe was repainted, but they did at least tape around the two front emblems.  The top round one reads "Gibraltar Safes  The Howe Scale Co."  the bottom reads "Gibraltar"

The handle has a the number "101 0 01" stamped into it

I took the door back off and there is "32" etched into the concrete as well as written on the back of the interior door cover

I'm mostly curious about the provenance and age of the safe and it's collectibility.  I understand from reading yours posts that you don't provide "ballpark" estimates, but of course I'm curious about the value.  

I have many more pix and hopefully you would like me to email them to you.

Tom in St. Louis

Hello Tom

I'll start with the "provenance" - if you don't have any documents from previous or original owners, then it has none.

In general, the word "Gibraltar" was used simply to give the owner a feeling of security, as in "as secure as the Rock of Gibraltar".    Sorry, just an advertising slogan.    Also, the Howe Scale Company was basically nothing more than a distributor selling "equipment", though they did manufacturer and specialize in "Scales".    Their safe line was simply that, a line of equipment to offer to their clientele.   

The Howe Scale Company sold safes from several different manufactures.    They would repaint them with THEIR logo's for advertising purposes.   This way the client or other potential customers seeing the safe and/or logo, would know where to come for a similar item.

In your case the safe is from the Alpine Safe & Lock Company - also known as the "Alpine Safe & Cycle Company".   This company was in business from 1887 to 1916ish, so your safe is going to be an antique AND a collectible.

You are correct, I don't do "ball park" values.   I'm more than happy to look at your safe and offer an appraisal based on its "CURRENT" condition.   Obviously if you have restoration work done, I would need to see it again.

Generally these smaller safes tend to fetch a higher value than bigger ones, as it is MUCH easier for someone to collect and display.    The biggest problem currently with your safe, is that this is NOT the original paint scheme.    Whether or not it was painted over, several times remains to be seen, but you would need to remove each layer of paint to see if you can get down to the original paint.

I would be more than happy to look at your safe for you.   

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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