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Antique Safes/Lewis Lillie safe Co


I was wanting to know some more information on The Lillie Safe Co. I have one of there safes and know very little about them and was wondering if you have any additional information.

Hi Josh,

Here is a brief history, with anecdotes about them:

  Originally known as the “World’s Safe Company”, the name was later changed to the more decorous Lewis Lillie & Company.
  1851, Lewis Lillie obtained a patent for a burglar proof chilled iron safe.  The lock on the safe was a “Derby Combination Lock”.
  Langdon W. Moore, in his story about his life, has a great story about his breaking into a Lillie Fire & Burglar Proof safe in Olean.  This safe was purchased from the bank by the Herring Safe Company, and put on display in their showroom in NY.
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) gave a speech on February 13th 1865, in the Bar Room of the Union Hotel, at Angel’s Camp, CA, concerning the upcoming election of “Florence, Grover & Baker”.  Mr. Twain was a bitter Florence man, and he thought that his great speech would long be remembered as the deadliest blow the “unprincipled Grover & Baker cabal” ever got in that camp.  Having done more to thwart their hellish designs upon the liberties of our beloved country than any single for of any one man that ever made in that county.  In the same speech, he administered a scathing rebuke to the “Lillie Union and Constitution Fire and Burglar Proof Safe Party,” (for he was a malignant Tilton & McFarland man, and would break bread and eat salt with none other,).  There appears to have been an ongoing battle of words and claims between supporters of the “Lillie Fire & Burglar proof safes” and the supporters of the “Tilton & McFarland safes”.  One Fraudulent claim stated that a Tilton & McFarland safe had melted in the tropical sunshine after 15 minutes exposure on the Isthmus of Panama.  Another claim stated that a Lillie Fire and Burglar proof safe in San Francisco, became soaked in the rain, ruining all the documents in side.  In the process of drying the safe, it had warped so that the door would not swing on its hinges and had to be “prized” open with a butter knife!
Lewis Lillie, patented a safe with “explosive material” in the walls.  Claims have been made that around 30 of these safes were made in the 1870’s.   These safes may possibly have a “New Jersey” location, rather than the traditional “Troy, NY” location.

Hope this gives you some reading material to go along with your new acquisition.  

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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

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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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