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Antique Safes/Rare Hassenforder family owned safe



I am from the South Jersey area living near the last Hassenforder Elizabeth, When all her family passed, she moved into her doctors home which was large enough that allowed him to take his patients with no family and allow them to live out their lives outside of a nursing home. Elizabeth passed away at 103 years old and left this safe which I now own. All the so called experts when I talk with them on the phone say "I've seen every safe there is" Until they see my photo. This safe as told to the doctor was shown at the Philadelphia Centenial in 1876 as the attention getter for Charles company. I unfortunately have no photo of it but I'm sure something must exist somewhere. I am wondering if you have ever seen this type of cast iron/ steel safe

T. Gucci,

Yes that is a very unique safe.    Before you get too upset at the supposed experts, you have to remember that during the late 1800's there were quite a few safe companies - in fact I've done research on around 300 separate companies from the early 1800's through the mid 1900's.    Manufacturers were always looking for something spectacular to come up with, to catch the eye of potential customers, so your having a very unique safe is not that out of the ordinary, though it may be very unique.   So while someone else may say that "they have seen every safe there is", I prefer to be a professional student, constantly hoping to see new items every day.

Though safe makers would come up with some wild ideas for what we would call a "CONCEPT" safe, this doesn't mean that it would become a production item.    There were also custom made safes that were built for only ONE customer.    There aren't going to be any records of these custom made safes, that are readily available, as these were not catalog or production safes, so it doesn't surprise me that you haven't found photos of it.    

Numerous manufacturers were making safes which looked like furniture, both in the US and in Europe.   During the late 1800's this was "all the rage", so to speak.   So again, this is not that unusual.   As far as "have I seen furniture type safes", the answer is yes.

While I have some ideas of probable manufacturers, I'm not sure who you are referencing as the "Charles Company", so I have to assume that your reference was simply not complete.

On the other hand there was a Hassenforder Safe Company which DID exhibit some of their safes at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.   Their address was 219 North Fourth Street, Philadelphia, PA   The owner was Charles Hassenforder, Jr.    So I have to assume that when you said "Charles Company", what you intended was the Hassenforder Safe Company, owned by Charles, which makes more sense and of course is documented.

While the following website does document some of the exhibits at the 1876 Exhibition, and it lists Hassenforder Safe Company, it doesn't have any photos of their displays.    As far as it being "an attention getter", hopefully it was, as they were one of the smaller exhibitors in that area, and were competing against much larger safe companies.   You also have to remember that the exposition was open for about 4 years and not all of the exhibitors were there for the entire time.

I'm not sure what you plan on doing with this safe, but I think it is pretty neat that you are researching the history of the safe, and continuing to care for a safe manufactured by Charles Hassenforder, JR and owned by Elizabeth, (his wife???)    That's a great history to pass along.   If you have family history concerning the safe company, I would be pleased to see what you have.

So for now, lets just deal with the actual safe and not the stories, to see what you have and if we can't ID it for you.

I will be more than happy to look at your safe, but I will need much better photos to try to ID what you actually have.

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.  

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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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