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Antique Safes/safe value


Andy - I saw your information on the web and wanted to start a dialogue - I am thinking about buying an "antique safe" from an antique dealer and I want to make sure of what I am buying is what he says it is - I have a few pictures but it is a 1918 Cary Safe Co on the bottom of the safe it says "Hibbard Safe Co. Milwaukee, Wis

Hi Jeff,

the first thing I would question is where did the dealer come up with the 1918 date from.    I see people label old safes using terms that make them sound more than they are.   As I have the most accurate serial number listing available, even I won't make an exact date claim, without back up documentation.    Manufacturers NEVER publish any listing about their safes, including serial numbers or manufacturing dates - so when ever I see someone claiming a date - red flags start to go up - especially where so called antique dealers and collectors are concerned.

Second item would be an evaluation or appraisal of the safe.   As I haven't had a chance to look at the safe and as you didn't provide me with any values that the dealer is asking, I can't comment on whether or not this would be a good buy.

third item would be any claims of historical value.    If they can't document the claim then it is simply a story.

Bottom line as far as "value", if this is something that you really want, then no price is too high, however if you have several to choose from, then you can be much more discerning, and you are in a much better bargaining position.

The Hibbard Safe Company was in business from about 1907 until the early 1920's.   Burton Lucias Hibbard, president.   This company was only a distributor or sales agent for several actual manufacturers.    In 1890, Mr. Hibbard accepted a position to travel for the Cary Safe Company.   His Territory first covering the states of New York and Pennsylvania.    Later he expanded into the mid-western states.   At the end of a three year association with the company he was appointed as General Agent for the Cary Safe Company, with his headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis.   Business was conducted under the name of Hibbard & Beehler, General Agents for the Cary Safe Co.   After two years, Hibbard bought out his partner and sold a one half interest to L. D. Richardson, the business incorporating as Hibbard & Richardson Company.   In 1907 Mr. Hibbard purchased Mr. Richardson's shares and the name was changed to the Hibbard Safe Company.    The company handled a general line of safes including products from the Cary Safe Company, York Safe & Lock Company and the Ely-Norris Safe Company.

So based on this information it is very possible that your safe would have been made between 1907 through the early 1920's.    We will need the serial number of the safe to narrow down dates of manufacturer.

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.  

Antique Safes

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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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