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Un identified safes  
QUESTION: Hi there would you be able to identify the make of this safe for me? I have started restoring it and would like a plaque but have no Idea what make it is. When removing the old paint I found some numbers on the top of the door 46, 26 and 2290, there is also the number 2290 on the body at the top above the door. I have tried to attach as many pictures as possible both before and after some restoration.

Thank you in advance,

ANSWER: Hello Matthew,

This safe would have been manufactured circa 1860 - 1890 and all safes of this late Victorian period looked exactly the same.  This one obviously had a round plate which rules out quite a few manufacturers of this period but there were many others.  

The most common circular name plate was Milner's.  They are easy to find.  If you log on to ebay and search on 'brass safe plates' there's almost certain to be one or two.  Look for one of the lighter ones - the big heavy name plates were on strongroom doors, not safes.  Also look for the number 212 at the top of the plate.  Milner invented a fire resistant material comprising of sand, sawdust and alum crystals.  When heated, the alum converted to moisture which damped down the sand and sawdust.  The interior temperature of the safe would then not exceed 212 degrees F, the boiling temperature of water, until all the steam was driven off.

Another maker of that period, who also had a round name plate was Cyrus Price but they are not so easy to come by but I have seen them for sale on ebay.

I am not saying that your safe actually is a Milner or a Cyrus Price but nobody would know otherwise and the plate will look at home on the front of the door.

Good luck.

Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thanks for your quick response.
I would really like to know the make of the safe, I'm pretty sure it's not a milners as the safe plate measures about 5 1/4 to 5 1/2 inches.

Also if it helps I took the door apart and found the locks to be aubin maker nettlefolds. Also the same in the drawers. I don't actually have a key, would this be incredibly difficult to replace?

Finally if it helps narrow it down the safe measure 26inches high x 18 inches widex 16 inches deep.

Hi Matthew,

I really don't think I can help. It is a square cornered riveted body exactly the same as hundreds of others. I can see no clues to its identity other than the mark left by the round plate.

Any Master Locksmith should be able to cut a key to the lock. Go to


Mike Palmer FSyI

Antique Safes

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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

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