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Antique Safes/York Safe and Lock Co - info on safe


York Safe
York Safe  

I have come into possession of a safe that says York Safe and Lock Co inside the door. It measures 20W x 24H x 20D and really heavy. The bolts are locked open and do I not have the combination, so will need to work on that. Can you help identify it (model, guesstimation of year produced, etc.) and what theft and fire protection it may still have? All the pictures I see online of York Safes seem to show rounded corners so I am not sure if it was manufactured under York or Diebold. I can send more pictures, how do I get your email address? The safe has been painted ( I believe more than once). A magnet does stick to the side panel however when I knock on the side panels they sound like wood so I am really curious of the actual theft and fire protection of this safe. By measuring the side stiles on the inside and adding the thickness of the wood lining, the metal side walls may not be very thick. Please let me know what other information I can provide.

Thank you very much in advance,


ANSWER: Hi Brian,

Your safe is what we term a "skeleton safe".   I've got a couple of these myself, though from other companies.   It IS a York Safe & Lock Company safe, probably pre-1930.    Diebold didn't acquire York until 1945.

They are NEITHER Burglary or Fire resistive.   They are basically a minimum security locking cabinet.

They make great decorative, display or conversation pieces.    While it may seem heavy - heavy doesn't start until around 1000 lbs, your little safe might be 250 lbs.

If you don't have the combination, then I would recommend having it recovered or reset by a safe tech from a local safe company.   Lock disassembly is NOT something that I recommend as a DIY project for the same reason I never recommend using a locksmith for safe work.   Lack of training, knowledge and tools can easily result in a VERY expensive lock out.

What other questions do you have?

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

QUESTION: Well it sounds like if I want real protection I need to invest in a new safe. In doing some research online I see different fire ratings (i.e. 30 minutes or 1 hour) and this just not seem like (to me, a novice) a reasonable amount of time if the house catches fire. Will you please share some insight into fire ratings? I did not see theft ratings, is there such a thing?

Thank you again,

ANSWER: Hi Brian,

Ok, lets go into safe basics - 101.

Fire Resistive safes.

A ONE hour fire resistive safe is considered the "Minimum STANDARD" - this is the starting point.

Which means that a two hour or four hour rating is going to be SUPER Standard, and safes which have LESS than one hour are going to be SUBSTANDARD!

So, again - 90 minutes is better than one hour and 45 minutes is going to be worse than one hour.    The MINIMUM that YOU should consider is "ONE" hour.
Obviously having a 1/2 hour rating is STILL better than leaving your stuff on the dining room table in a fire, though not by much.

Burglary resistive safes.

The MINIMUM rated safe is a "TL-15"    Basically 15 minutes of UL time is considered about 2-4 hours of real burglar time.   The 15 minutes is ONLY calculated when the tool is in contact with the safe and does NOT include set up time, nor does it calculate time required to break in to the building or bypass alarm systems.

Gun safes, fire safes, etc., etc., etc., are NOT burglary rated safes.   If they have an RSC rating (residential security container), they DO have at least a minimum standard that they must be built to, in order to have the label, but again - these are STILL considered NON-rating and are "SUB-Standard" to actual burglary ratings.

Recommendations:   If you are going to consider purchasing a safe, you definitely need to do some homework so that "YOU" know WHAT the differences are, so that YOU can compare apples and apples and NOT apples and oranges.

Hope this helps,

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

QUESTION: Hi Andy,  
There sure is a lot of differences in safe offerings. I have researched Sentry, First Alert and American Security. I like the BF series from AMSEC. Do you have any manufacturer recommendations for a combo Fire and Burglary rated safes?

Thank you,


Hi Brian,

even mentioning companies like "Sentry" and First Alert (SISCO) in the same sentence with AMSEC would be kind of like comparing a clown car to a Lamborghini!

You are correct there are a lot of differences in safes, and this is one of those areas where you really do get what you pay for, but if you are going to do a comparison you need to compare apples to apples and not a watermelon to a raisin!    so to speak!

Recommendations are based on YOUR needs, which you haven't addressed yet.   If you want a "GOOD" quality safe for residential use, which provides good fire and burglary, AND you are going to store $10,000 or less in valuables (doesn't matter if its your birth certificate or a bar of gold) Then AMSEC's BF series is really hard to beat.

If you are going to be storing less than $500 worth of valuables then you might look at the Sentry or SISCO safes.

If you are planning on MORE than $10,000 - AT ANY TIME - then you need to look at something more substantial with at least a TL-15 burglary resistive rating.    

If you want me to give you a particular recommendation, then I need to have a ball park idea of $$$ value that you intend to store AND how much storage space you need.
If you have a weight issue (floor support) where the safe will be installed, then I need to know that as well, as it doesn't do any good to provide you with a recommendation for something that won't work for you.

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

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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