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Antique Safes/Halls safe


Hi, I have a Hall's safe. Manufactured in Cincinnati Oh. Serial # 20482. I need to know if there is a way to get the combo for it as i have no clue what is in it (if anything) and i have no idea how long ago it had been opened last. I purchased it in a storage unit auction and it was hidden in the back of the unit. Any help would be great. What year is it? Value? Type of combo? Thanks, Mandra

Hi Mandra,

If you have a time machine, then you can possibly contact the manufacturer to see if they have any records for your safe, if not then we have to go to either plan 2 or 3.

As far as when your safe was made, I would need more info on what you actually have.    There were two different "Hall's" safe companies in Cincinnati.   The first one (daddy Hall - Hall's Safe & Lock Co.) was in business from 1867-1892.    Shortly after Jacob's death in 1889, his son's merged the company with several others to form Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe company.    In 1896 Jacob's three son's left HHM to form "Hall's Safe Company.    They were out of business by 1929, the beginning of the Great Depression!

Manufacturers NEVER published any records about their safes so there are no records to look through.

Your options would include:
1.   Test dialing all possible combinations.    As chances are, your safe is probably from the second company, the lock installed would give you about 1,000,000 possible combinations.   Testing 500 each and every day would only take about 5.5 years to test them all.
2.   Having a safe technician from a local safe company open the safe and recover the combination.

Generally people don't abandon safes with "stuff" locked inside.   The caveat would be a death in the family or possibly a safe left in a storage locker.

as for all of your other questions - age, value, etc. etc. - I would be happy to look at the safe for you, however I won't be able to evaluate it until after it has been opened and I can get a look at its overall condition.    As this safe IS potentially an antique, it should be opened as damage free as possible.    While manipulation is possible, it may not be probable.   You may not have someone in your area who is trained in manipulation.   Drilling, if done correctly WILL NOT damage or ruin the safe - however if done by someone who really doesn't know what they are doing may ruin a valuable antique.    As parts are not available, nothing should be done which isn't easily repairable.

Check your yellow pages under "safes & vaults" for a local safe company.   You can discuss the project with them.   If they don't seem to know what they are doing, or indicate they can open it but will ruin it then DO NOT use them.   If you have questions concerning proposed methods of opening and repairing - run it by me before having the work done.
If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.

In order to answer questions, identify, evaluate or appraise the “current condition” of your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos (close-ups) 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 use a “jpeg” format, not a bitmap (bmp) image.   Also, I don’t like “website” photo dumps.   While it may be an easy place for you to store them, retrieving photos which allow me to zoom in to look at details, takes a lot of extra time.   Please send the requested photos directly to me.

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.

Hope this helps,

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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. 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

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 - 2013 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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