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Antique Safes/Reliable Safe (of Covington, KY)


Reliable Safe
Reliable Safe  
I recently acquired an old safe (Reliable Safe and Lock Company, Inc. Covington, KY).  The exterior is in surprisingly good condition and based on an internet search, might have some value beyond scrap value.  Unfortunately, it is locked (and has been for over 20 years) and I do not have the combination.  (1)What options do I have to open the safe, (2)what the best method to preserve any value it may have, and (3) how do I determine its value?  It says, "PAT. AUG.17 1915  3088" on the top of the handle if that helps.  Thank you very much for any insights you can provide!

Hi Lee,

I would hope that it has better value than "scrap" value!

the Reliable Safe & Lock Company was in business from the early 1916's to the early 1940's when it was acquired by Mosler and subsequently closed down.

The "PATENT" date was the date the PATENT was issued for the lock and NOT a date of manufacture.    As this same lock was used pretty much continuously for the period the company was in business, this doesn't give us much help as to when your safe was made.

Current value is basically a "negative" until the safe is opened, that being the cost to have it opened and/or repaired.     This could easily be in the $350-$500 area!

Options would include your test dialing every combination until you find the correct one, or having it opened by a safe technician from a local safe company (NOT a locksmith).

If you decide on option one, set up a spread sheet with all the possible combinations.   The dialing sequence should be:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right slowly until the dial stops or you feel it engage (around 8), then turn the handle clockwise (right) to retract the bolt work.

Note:  Left is counter clockwise, Right is clockwise.  DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual number as it ARRIVES at the index mark.

I'm not quite sure how to answer your question concerning "what the best method to preserve any value it may have"!    Obviously don't ruin the safe opening it would be a good start.    If you elect to go with option #2, you need a safe technician that is familiar with the safe.   Anyone who indicates that they charge an hourly rate, over someone who can flat fee the work, probably doesn't actually know what they are doing.    They have no incentive to get the safe open quickly and/or may actually be LEARNING at your expense!

Check your yellow pages under safes & vaults for a nearby company.   If you don't have one, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.

If you have any questions concerning their proposed opening methods please run it by me BEFORE letting them work on the safe, as afterwards is simply crying over spilt milk!

Hope this helps,

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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