Antique Safes/Hall Safe doors appraisal request
QUESTION: Hi Mr. Andreasen,
I have a set of vault safe doors from the Hall Safe Company and cannot seem to find out how to get them appraised or any text, photo or video content online about them. I'm hoping you can help me please.
I have these two doors that used to be attached to a safe that was clearly pretty stunning -- or at least the doors are, even more so due to their simplicity. I have included a picture as requested and am hoping we can start a dialogue that will get the ball rolling to get me toward finding out how much these are worth and whether I should sell or keep them.
I look forward to hearing back from you shortly. I live in Los Angeles, so if you also have recommendations of where I might consider taking them for appraisal, feel free to share please.
ANSWER: Hi Martin,
Sorry, but without the safe they were attached to, they have virtually no value!
You are easily missing 2/3 of the item that would be appraised. Doors like these were NOT meant to be removed from and/or sold as a separate - individual item.
"IF" you can find a buyer, they would have to have (at minimum) a frame built for the doors, so that they could even be used.
Feel free to contact all of the safe companies in the LA area, however, pretty much they would charge you to haul them away - the charge being their appraisal.
Now, notice that in the first sentence I mentioned "virtually no value"! Everything has value to someone. Your job is going to be finding someone that wants the doors and is willing to pay the money to have a frame made to fit them (not an easy task).
You mentioned that "they used to be attached to a safe that was clearly stunning", so my first question would be "why would you even consider separating the two"??????
Regardless of the door's age, which based on the photo I would put between 1907-1920, it is basically useless in its current condition.
I usually try to be fairly positive in offering suggestions, however in this case, I'm at a loss. Unless YOU have a better idea of what your plan originally was for the doors, I have no where to go at this point. Removing the doors from the safe pretty much ruined their value as belonging to the safe and/or as an antique. They have no stand-alone value.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hello Andreasen,
Thank you very much for taking the time to read and respond to my question. I am a bit mystified, however, with the practically punitive tone of your response. Contrary to your suggestion that I had anything to do with "ever consider separating the two?????", actually I have never seen the back part of these doors (i.e., the actual safe components) and am not necessarily eager to do so. I have, however, found myself with what I (and many others who have encountered them in the places I've lived over the years in NYC and now in Los Angeles) consider to be quite notable and aesthetically pleasing 'cultural touchstones of a bygone era' -- let's call them that. Lean them against a wall together, suspend them on a strong iron tension bar between the floor and the ceiling, hang them on a wall revealing a well-stocked spirits collection can be intoxicating to say the least.
Clearly, my apologies for not framing my question to you about their value as some sort of art or artifact from the past, which is what I was after.
For what it's worth, I have had many offers from people of all walks of life (rich, middle class and otherwise) stand in awe of them and guess that I paid a very high price to acquire these doors. I had hoped that you, being an expert, would find some redeeming value about them.
However, based on how your ended by stating that you are "at a loss" for being fairly positive, my hunch is that this is simply a case of you being "too close to your subject" and feel that I should gingerly suggest, with the utmost of respect and good manners, that you pull back and put this and other questions about antiques in a more realistic context. A context that recognizes diverse uses of products and services with wide ranging sentimentality can actually be hidden in plain sight.
A working safe may be interesting to have for many people. Owning a piece of a working safe that is as striking as these incredibly heavy, substantive pieces of history clearly is perceived to worth something to many others as well. It may not be worth much to some, but I'm sure you would agree that it's a wonderful thing when something from the past has both value and worth.
I should have been more clear about the nature of the value appraisal I was seeking from you. Something told me that you would have a more informed and, ultimately, valuable response to my question vs. what I likely would have gotten by directing my question to an interior designer or prop stylist.
No harm, no foul. I look forward to hearing back from you.
No need to apologize, it was clearly a misunderstanding based on the first sentence of your second paragraph, " I have these two doors that used to be attached to a safe that was clearly pretty stunning". As there were no other qualifiers it was an assumption on my part that you had removed the door.
I also had no intention of sounding like you had "ruined" a potential antique. There are many reasons for having doors like this. I also have an HHM plate vault door which had been removed from a building without the frame or vestibule. The original owner simply wanted the door gone, but didn't want to incur the cost of the frame and vestibule removal.
I rescued the door - for my own use, and plan on building a frame for it, so that it is functional again. Unfortunately, my wife has nixed all of my plans for a proposed install location in the house, to date! I'm probably going to build a small area in my workshop to install it.
Again, unfortunately, when the door was removed from its original frame and vestibule, its "potential antique value" was ruined, regardless of its aesthetics value to me and/or any one else that might want it for the same reason. This doesn't mean that the door has "NO" value, it only means that it has no more antique, historical or collectible value based on its original construction.
Fortunately, as I'm keeping the door for my own use, value doesn't come into play. As you indicate others MAY be interested, however unless it is ready to install they will lose interest very quickly. Very few potential buyers are going to be interested in doing the work themselves though they may "feign" interest in the doors. If you do find one that is willing to actually part with the cash, jump on it.
As far as "owning a piece of a working safe" - that would be like having a wheel off of a Model A Ford automobile - yeah its cool but it isn't the actual car!!!! Similarly, having the doors could be unique depending on the display - it still isn't the actual safe!
As far as value goes, I'll reiterate what I've said before, if the doors aren't attached to the safe, they have limited value. There is no antique or historical value to them, they have no use with out having a frame to hold them, and they can't be used as replacement doors for other safes, as the door frame and jamb is built FOR the doors. They have no useable value.
"IF" you are going to simply mount them as "art work", it would be a great display. If you had a door frame built for the doors THEN they may have some purpose. But having them simply leaning against a wall they have no value at all.
I like some of your ideas, however in order for them to be useful, it will require a lot of work to accomplish it. For instance to use the doors as covers for you "wine locker" is a great idea - HOWEVER, once they are installed they, again, have no value, until they are removed and ready for sale. I get this same type of question about used bank vault doors - while they are INSTALLED, they have no resale value, until they have been removed, cleaned and ready for sale and a new installation.
I understand that you aren't happy with my appraisal, however I was fairly clear about the problems with value, even though you didn't like the response. It's not my job to "kiss up" to everyone, its my job to give you an unbiased opinion of the "ITEM" in question, so that YOU can make legitimate decisions regarding it.
Bottom line, the doors by themselves, have extremely limited value as they have been removed from the safe they belonged to. My goal isn't to belittle you or the doors, but to clarify your options, and I'm really glad to see that you have considered options that don't involve them being with the safe. Unfortunately, I do not provide appraisals or opinions based on ideas. If you've read my notes here previously, you will note that I'm fond of telling people that my wife broke my crystal ball about the same time she killed my money tree! I have no idea how much effort that YOU are willing to put into the doors to get them into display condition or any useable condition by having a working frame built for them. I don't speculate on something that hasn't happened yet.
If you are willing to put the time and effort into making it work, I'll be the first one to applaud your efforts in keeping these old doors active and giving them a new life.
Hope this clarifies my previous answer a bit more.