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Antique Safes/Old Antique safe.. Appraisal



Hello there. My name is Tyler and I have recently inherited three safes from my grandfather. At the time of receiving them, they all were locked, but two had open doors. Through a bit of online research, I managed to take the lock mechanism apart and troubleshoot their coms. It was actually a lot of fun! So I've got two functional safes, and one that I have no clue of the com. My main question lies in one that I believe to be an antique.

     The safe is inscribed "F&W Grand - Silver Stores". A business that with a google search reveals it was founded in November of 1929. Derived from the CT Silver Motor Company... It was re-sold at a later date by the "Spector Safe Co." based out of NY. I realize this marking is simply a marketing tool... I thought it was pretty cool, myself! It also has a "Underwriters Laboratories Inspected insulated cabinet" tag above the door.

    Upon opening the inside wall of the safe, I found a few interesting things. For instance, as you can see in the photo the number "650", "7", and letters "AL"  are inscribed in the cement as well as a metal bar. The lock is a 4 digit (R,L,R,L) Yale combination lock, it sure was tricky troubleshooting the digits, but after a few hours (first-timer here) I managed to figure it out perfectly. The dimensions of the safe are H-31" W-23" D-24"

    The safe looks like an old bank-style safe. I really like it and am curious of the value. I have seen your previous responses and trust your ability to determine a value. I also have a few questions... Is this safe worth more in its current rusty condition, or should I take time to refurbish it? I am leaning towards the former. It looks like a really cool piece of history, and thanks to a little dedication it works!

    I really appreciate you taking the time to help me, I hope you enjoy discovering for this information as much as I do. If you have a chance, I would also like to ask you about the other two safes I have, but I don't want to pester you with so many burdens at once.

Thank you

Hi Tyler,

The safe in question - in the photos - is unfortunately not an antique - yet, though it will be, some day.     Antique safes are over 100 years old, so yours is collectible, not antique.

It was manufactured by the Schwab Safe Company probably during the late 1920's through mid 1930's.   So it is still about 85 years old.     It is also NOT a bankers safe.   This type of safe was designed as a personal or small business safe, mainly for housing documents and little cash.

Spector Safe Co., was a distributor or small safe company, not a manufacturer.

As far as restoration, don't even worry about it.   Clean it up, restore the paint, decorations and cabinetry and enjoy it.

I will need much better photos to evaluate it for you, but would be happy to look at it.

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.  

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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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