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Antique Safes/Wilfred safe


I recently aquired an antique safe. It says "wilders patent NY" on the bottom however that is the only markings I can find. There is some artwork including a Masonic square and compas on the outside which is very rusted. I have the combination and the inside has artwork and shelving. I would like to know if there is anywhere local I can have it looked at for an estimated value. I live in Albany NY.  Otherwise I would be happy to send pictures I'm not looking for insurance or resale purposes jus so I know.
Thank you

Hi Ellen,

Basic History:
Beginning in about 1830, Daniel Fitzgerald of New York, figured out how to design a reliable fire proof safe using plaster of Paris as an insulating material.   Fitzgerald's patent application was denied because personnel of the Patent Office were protecting an inventor of an earlier technology.   Finally, with the assistance of Enos Wilder, Fitzgerald was granted  US Patent No. 3117 on June 1, 1843.   Fitzgerald assigned the patent to Enos Wilder, for a sum of $5000 to actually build the safes.  Enos, left the patent assignment to his heir, Benjamin G. Wilder, and it became known as the "Wilder Patent".   Safes made using technology in the Wilder Patent proved effective against fire and made earlier technologies obsolete.

These safes were referred to as "Salamander Safes" in reference to the folklore stories of the Salamander being "impervious to fire".

Commercial production of safes using technology in the Wilder Patent had begun around 1840 by several safe makers, some of which had made arrangements to pay Wilder for use of the patent if he was successful in obtaining the patent.   Other parties who had not made these arrangements were successfully sued over the use.

About 1841, Silas C. Herring became interested in Wilder's safes, first as a salesman or general agent for Wilder, and later as a manufacturer.   In 1844 the safes under this patent were made by Mr. Herring who agreed to pay Wilder a royalty of one cent per pound for the right to be the exclusive seller of Wilder's Patented Salamander safes in New York City.

By 1856 according to a Wilder Advertisement, some 26,000 Wilder patented safes had been sold by all of the numerous licensed safe makers, Herring being the dominate maker, having the lucrative New York market.

I would be more than happy to look at your safe to try to determine what you actually have, though unfortunately, many of these safes are almost identical in construction, so identifying the maker may be difficult.

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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