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Antique Safes/Detroit Safe Company - 1873 Safe



I have the safe in the following link and I was wondering what would a safe like this would be valued at as is. It is a double door safe that someone had spray painted/primed the front of the doors. It was manufactured July 29th, 1873. It is approx. 42" wide x 42" deep x 48" high. The safe is currently open but the combination is unknown.


Hi Ron,

My first question concerns the "date" you have listed.   Manufacturers never put the dates of manufacture on the safe.   The only dates listed were "PATENT issue dates" - the date a patent was issued for a particular item - in most cases the lock in some cases the safe or an item on the safe.   What this tells us is that the safe could NOT have been made prior to this date, and up to 20 years later - or as long as the manufacture was still relating to that particular patent.  Fortunately as David Osgood Paige was pretty consistent about updating patent dates on his safes, we can probably compare yours to other known safes to narrow down approximately when it was made.

The problems with making claims on eBay - potential buyers generally check items out before spending money on items like this safe.    Having wrong information is usually a red flag.   Fortunately the patent date gives us a starting date to look forward from.
Second item concerning "value" or appraisals is all about current condition of the safe.   Potential buyers generally don't want to do the work themselves and are willing to pay more money when it entails less work.    This little safe needs a bit of work.
Fortunately for you the safe is locked open.    This is actually a very small problem, though the cost to have the combination recovered and/or reset could easily be $100 to $150 - this is a negative cost - either for you or for a potential buyer.

As far as the spray painted front.    Usually, unless it excessively damaged to begin with, the older paint is going to be much harder, so careful removal of the white paint, one layer at a time, may reveal the original paint, which gives the owner some type of map to work from for restoration.    If the original paint is pretty much ruined, fortunately I have some pretty good photos the new owner can use to recreate what this safe should have or would have looked like.

Similarly the interior cabinetry can be repaired or replaced - though again, this is pretty much a negative cost.

In order to evaluate or appraise the safe I will need much better photos to work from.   While I understand that you are looking for a "ball park" range simply to sell it from, I don't work that way.   As both buyers and sellers may approach me concerning any given safe, my appraisals have to be the same, regardless of whose is asking.   In order to do this, I'll need a few more photos and better quality ones than those on your eBay page.   The photos you uploaded to eBay are only about 40-45kb resolution, I need at least 1mb and they have to be clear and in focus so that I can zoom in to look at details.

In order to answer specific questions, identify, evaluate or appraise your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos 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 don’t send me “cell phone” photos, unless they are very clear and of sufficient resolution.   Also, please don’t use online, internet photo drops as most of these also don’t allow me to easily access the photos for examination.   Send the pics directly to me, while this may be more work for you, it will make my job easier.

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.

At any rate, I am more than happy to look at your safe for you, and to try to provide information which will make the safe more desirable to a potential buyer.  

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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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