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Antique Safes/J.Tann 12 corner anchor reliance safe


QUESTION: I got this safe with key, can you please tell me anything about it and what the value may be?

Thank you for your time.

Kind regards


ANSWER: Hello Boris,

Than you for your question and the pictures of your Tann safe.  

The term '12 corner bent' refers to the number of bends pressed into a single sheet of steel.  Four bends formed the four sides of the safe.  A further four bends at the back were mitered to accept a back plate fixed from inside and finally four bends were mitered at the front to create a door rebate.  This form of construction dates from 1906 until well into the 1940's.  If you could find a serial number on the safe, I would be able to give you the exact year of manufacture.  

Reliance refers to John Tann's Reliance safe factory and the Anchor was John Tann's trademark. Most 12 corner bent safes were relatively low security and the Association of Burglary Surveyors in the UK recommends that no more than 1,000 cash should be secured in a Tann Household safe or a maximum of 10,000 in valuables, jewellery, etc.

However, it is a nice little domestic safe and quite useful.  Unfortunately I have no idea of the market for second hand safes in Croatia.  It looks to be in good condition and in the UK I would expect it to fetch about 250 to 300.  Perhaps a little more at an auction.  One problem is that the Household safe usually had no means of being bolted to the floor so it can easily be taken away.

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Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Mr. Palmer,

I found only this number on safe: 2.0.22 (maybe serial number, number is on the top edge of door). If this  is a proper number can You please tell me from which year is that safe.

Hello Boris,

Thank you for you for the additional information.  Unfortunately this is not the serial number.  The serial number for John Tann safes made between 1930-1940 would be 5 digits long commencing with a 4 or 5.  Without this number I'm afraid I can't date it precisely.

Best regards,

Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy  

Antique Safes

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Mike Palmer


I earn my living identifying safes and suggesting cash limits for risk advisors and insurance surveyors in the UK. I'm am pleased to comment on safes manufactured in the UK or Mainland Europe but I am unable to accept questions regarding safes made in the USA or elsewhere.


I have been in the UK safe industry for 40 years and have one of the largest archive databases of old safe literature and serial numbers in the country. I started with Chubb in 1960 and became Assistant Manager of their Bank Security Division before moving on to become the Insurance Liaison Manager with the John Tann Group. I became Sales & Marketing Director for Guardian Safes Limited before semi-retiring. I am a Fellow of the Security Institute and ex-Chairman of Eurosafe UK, a trade body representing the interests of UK safe makers and distributors. I now work as a part time consultant.

I am an advisor to the Safe Committee of the Association of Insurance Surveyors, a Fellow of the Security Institute and founding Chairman of Eurosafe UK.

I have had literally scores of articles published in various security trade publications. So far this year I have had 24 features published in various journals including Keyways, Professional Security, Pawnbroker and Safe India. I have published one book, Peckham Boy, the life and times of the world's greatest safe cracker.

No relevant educational credentials.

Awards and Honors
In 1997 I was awarded the annual shield by the Association of Insurance Surveyors for "..outstanding services to crime prevention"

Past/Present Clients
I have represented or been an agent for the John Tann Group (Stratford, Ratner, Dreadnought and Tann safes); Churchill Safes, Chubb Safe Co Ltd, SLS Safes, SMP Safes, Dudley Safes and several others

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