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Antique Safes/Replacement Keys for John Tann Safes



I have a vintage made in the 1980's John Tann 6X Fortress Safe made in Sweden in the 1980'S which we recently purchased used here in Miami, Florida for our Jewelry Business and Pawn Shop... It only came with one key and there seems to be no one in the United States currently who is cutting new keys (believe it or not) for these very common and finely made, high quality older safes... It is such a shame that a craft or skill like this and fine watch makers seems to be dying with the younger generation that does not what to take up these old line crafts or skills... Do you know anyone or can you help me find someone here in the United States who can cut new keys (using the one key ~ that I do have) for these great old safes... To my knowledge none of the new safes that are being made today are near as good quality as the vintage old ones... So it surprises me that no one is filling a nitch today of making hand cut keys for these important older safes?  

I noticed in one of your previous articles that you had a safe expert based in London, England who just may be the best person to help me with this question, thank...

Parko Jewelry & Pawn
1701 W. Flagler Street
Suite # 11
Miami, Florida 33135

Hi David,

Firstly, I completely agree that, as far as Europe is concerned, safes sold today fall well short of the quality of safes made in the 70's and 80's.  In those days we were driven by a very competitive market with everyone striving to make a better safe than their competitors.  Once standards for testing and grading safes were introduced, it was all about who could make the cheapest safe that would get through the test.  

However, we are where we are and I find it hard to believe that there isn't someone to cut a key to your Tann Fortress.  Have you tried ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America)?  At their website you can locate your nearest ALOA registered locksmith offering safe servicing facilities.  

When I searched on Miami there were quite a number and surely one of them must be able to cut a duplicate safe key.

If you don't have any success, take a picture of the key and email it to me at and I will ask my fellow members of Eurosafe UK (an association representing UK safe makers, importers and distributors) to see how quickly they could cut a duplicate from the original and mail them both back to you.  The problem is that it is going to take a few days during which time the safe will be out of action.

Good luck,

Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

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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