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Antique Safes/opening a York safe (have combo tag)


combo tag front
combo tag front  

York Safe
York Safe  
Hi Doug,
We are renovating an old family home and came across a York safe, probably 1930-1940 vintage.  We also found what we believe is the combination tag in a desk.  However, when using those numbers the safe will not open.  What is strange is that the combination seems to be a series of five single digit numbers.  We've attached a pic of the tag.

Any help you could provide would be awesome and greatly appreciated.



Scott, sorry for the delay.  I would expect the Sargent & Greenleaf lock on your safe to be a 3 wheel lock, which requires only 4 turns left to go to the 1st number.  Also at most, the combination would have 4 not 5 numbers in a written combination, if the stopping point is included. There are a couple other technical reasons I don't think that tag is correct for your safe. That odd combination, using only single digits sounds like it could have been for an older 4 wheel lock safe.  I would contact someone capable of manipulation as there is a reasonable chance it can be opened without drilling.  But nobody gets them all, and it may need drilled to get it open.  Doug  

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Doug MacQueen


This unusual and highly innovative safe from the later 1800's is a Corliss. William, the much younger brother of George Corliss of steam engine fame, spent several years perfecting this design and it was first displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia U.S. Centennial Exhibition. I do extensive patent research helping me in the study of antique U.S. safes and safe locks. Repairs and part making for antique U.S. safes of the early to mid 1800's, both key and combination. Also the study of early round door chest designs up to and including cannonball safes of the early 1900's.


40 years in the lock and safe trade with a stint in bank service work. Openings, repairs and moving of safes of all types.

Charter member Safe and Vault Technicians Association SAVTA, National Safemans Association NSO, National Antique Safe Association NASA. No longer current.

SAVTA monthly magazine

CMS (Certified Master Safecracker- NSO) and CPS (Certified Professional Safe Technician - SAVTA)

Awards and Honors
2nd place national combination manipulation contest 1986 and now in 2016 1st place

Past/Present Clients

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