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Antique Safes/iron strongbox or field chest?



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Hi Andy,  My father-in-law gave me a heavy iron chest with working lock and key that has absolutely no markings.  I'm trying to research this but I have no idea what it is or what it was used for.  Its dimensions are: 17" x 13" x 12" and is extremely heavy.  There is a copy of a receipt from a Mrs. Clark's Shop for $25 from Aug 16, 1948.  I am hoping that you can help me.  Attached are some pictures.  Thanks!  Tim.

Hi Tim,

Unfortunately Besides many of the safe manufactures there were numerous blacksmith type shops that would make these chests.   As very few manufactures actually put any markings on these containers, it is often difficult to ID who may have made it.     Many of the safe makers made these containers the same as any other manufacturer which again, makes it difficult to ID them.

The chest appears to be much older than 1948 which is the good news, and based on the construction I would hazard a guess of the late 1800's for when it was made.

If you would like I would be more than happy to look at the chest, but I'll need much better photos, in fact the photos have to be of a clarity and resolution, so that I can clearly zoom in to see very small details.

I'll need full inside and outside photos, as well as close ups of the handles, key hole cover and lock.    You will need to remove the lock cover in the back so that I can see the lock more clearly as well.
Any markings on the safe will need to be a close up, detail photo.

Please send all of the photos to me at:

I'll take a look at the container to see if I can come up with any more info.  

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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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