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Antique Safes/My Grandfathers Antique Safe


Hello my grandfather had a safe that he bought from Joseph Spector when he had all his race horses back in the early 1900's. I looked online and I saw one that is pretty much exactly like his but only much cleaner and it has my grandfathers name on it. This safe is amazing.. the dial is the smoothest ever and spins with ease.. it is nothing like safes I have ever opened in my 60 years of living... it is so solid and it has to weigh between 600 and 800 pounds... the gold handle is on the left.. it is a 4 number combination which is so much fun to open.. No one in my family seems to be able to open it on the first time except me.. My dad who is now deceased and I opened it on first try always

So I am writing to you because it only has one owner and because we had to move it for the fist time is 70 years... I think the safe is at least 80 to 100 years old..

When you open the door (it opens to the right.. the handle is to the left)  there is a wooden drawer and there is a wooden shelf... so many memories.. so my question is how much to these type of safes go for??   Thank you for your time and if you need photos I can do that do..

Hi Mary,

Unlike other antique items, safes were designed to be used, and used and used!!!   This means that many of these older safes are going to be in pretty horrific condition.   So when you ask "how much do these type safes go for" - they don't!   There is no standard price or value based on a "type" of safe, it is ALL about what you actually have, its age, any documented historical events it was involved with, and of course - condition, condition, condition!!!

Unfortunately EVERYONE thinks that their little beauty is in mint condition, until the buyer sees it through a different pair of eyes, so I try to be as unbiased as possible.    Unlike a collector who may try to belittle your safe to lower the value, I'm not in the market to buy your safe, I'm here to give you an even handed evaluation of what you actually have, who made it, possibly when it was made and its condition.   Any price that I evaluate it at, is based on what I believe that it should go for under normal conditions.    Sales through antique dealers and at antique auctions MAY get much higher prices, however you also have to pay commission fees.     The last auction that I attended, my values were about 85% accurate for the values the safes sold at, as opposed to the seller and auction houses less than 20% accuracy.

I don't compare safes seen on line to your safe, as in most cases the one that you think may be the same, probably isn't.    As for your grandfather's name being on the safe, unless you plan on selling it to a family member this has little meaning to anyone but you.    Unless he was a historically significant figure, then it may add a bit and/or be more interesting to a museum or someone interested in THAT particular history.

If you sell the safe to someone other than a family member, I would recommend that you also include a brief description of who your grandfather was, along with a photograph of him.   While this won't necessarily improve its appraisal value, it may make the safe more desirable to a potential buyer.

I would be more than happy to look at your safe for you.

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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