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Antique Safes/Marvin Safe



Appreciate your view regarding restoration of this Marvin Safe believed to been made in 1877 and kept in the family business (Jewelry)thru 2013.  I do have the names etc.  

Is the value of the safe degraded by repainting as well as replacing the interior wood work?  Hopefully I can just clean and wax the exterior and keep the patina as is.  The interior wood work is in poor condition.  Not sure if the wood is cherry or not.  But I can do that.   
Not sure if the cabinet is original or not - and if so - what would the "pulls" look like?

The safe was in a Lock Smiths shop since 2013.  The lock smith and owner were not able to open the safe with a known combination, and subsequently, an effort mas made to determine the combination by feel and scope with no success.  I bought the safe two days ago.  Using the known combination the safe opened..  I hesitate to re-lock the safe until a little more is known about the lock.  

In your view - would you recommend removing the lock and sending out for inspection/wear repair. (to you perhaps)..

Two photos attached, additional photos submitted to your e-mail.. Not HD photos at this time.

Hi Paul,

Neat Marvin Safe!    I especially like the huge corner decorations.

First question - where did you come up with the 1877 date????     

I can't believe that your family was keeping jewelry in this safe as it was not designed to provide this kind of protection.    These safes were designed for FIRE resistance only!!!    The cabinetry is not original, it was replaced with a very specific drawer design to be used by the jeweler for storage.

Unlike other antiques - paintings, furniture, etc., safes don't lose value by restoring them - the only caveat would be a safe that has documented "HISTORICAL" significance.    In that case, restoration would need to be done in a very specific manner to keep the safe original.

As far as the difference between keeping it in its CURRENT condition over restoring it, most potential owners are going to want something nice enough to be displayed.


1.   Have the safe lock serviced and the combination checked by a trained SAFE TECHNICIAN, NOT a locksmith, to ensure proper operation of the lock so you don't get locked out.

2.   Replace the cabinetry.    Regardless of if you keep it similar to its current design or with something that is more original, it needs to be replaced.    You can discuss this with a cabinet maker as to the materials and designs - IF you don't have the skills.

3.   Exterior paint.     The paint on the safe is original.    If it is in good condition you may want to leave it, or have it touched up.    If you elect to have the safe repainted, take multiple photos, measurements and/or drawings of the art work so that it can be recreated.

Note:   If you notice that the art work has kind of a yellowish or orange tint to it.   This is not original, the old varnish on the safe has aged significantly.   Removal of the varnish ONLY will bring the art color back to life.    If the rest of the paint is in good shape, then you might only clear coat it, or put new varnish back on to protect the paint.

I haven't seen any other photos in my email, so I'm not sure if you had the address wrong or the attachments were too large.     The email is       photo attachment max total size would be about 12 mb to keep from bouncing.

If you would like me to look at your safe I would be more than happy to.

In order to answer questions, identify, evaluate or appraise the “current condition” of your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos (close-ups) 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 use a “jpeg” format, not a bitmap (bmp) image.   Also, I don’t like “website” photo dumps.   While it may be an easy place for you to store them, retrieving photos which allow me to zoom in to look at details, takes a lot of extra time.   Please send the requested photos directly to me.

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.  

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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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