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Antique Safes/Old Gary floor safe with keys


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I purchased an old Gary round floor safe at an estate sale, it has the top lid with key that opens. The problem is, it has a second lid inside with 2 key locks. It came with 1 key that will turn one lock, but it will not turn second lock. I will attach pictures. Does this type of safe have 2 separate keys for inside lid? It says Gary safe co Los Angeles 21 serial #17633 on top lid.

Hi Joshua,

The lock on the interior door is NOT two locks it is a single lock for "DUAL" custody purposes.   It does require two keys to unlock it, though sometimes if dual custody is not required the guard side can be disabled.

The two portions of the lock which protrude through the door are referred to as the "NOSE" of the lock.   The nose which is closest to the center of the door is for the "GUARD" or preparatory key.   This key and/or side of the lock PREPARES the lock so that the second key known as the "CUSTOMER" or operating key will unlock and retract the locking bolt.

The nomenclature comes from the fact that these locks are generally used in and designed for safe deposit boxes at banks.    The guard or bank custodian would insert and turn THEIR key, and then the CUSTOMER key would be inserted to actually unlock the lock to gain access.

This lock was adapted over, for use in other areas for similar security.   For instance your safe was designed for use in small markets or gas stations.   During the day excess money would be deposited through slot leading to the lower compartment.   Either a manager or guard service would arrive each day or once a week with their key so that the interior compartment could be accessed and the money taken to the bank.   This extra security was in place so that if the place was robbed, the maximum amount taken would be what was actually in the cash register.   The bulk of the money would be protected as the cashier would NOT have the keys to the inner safe.

In order to get it open, you need both sides of the lock unlocked - if you only have one of the keys then you will need a safe technician to open the other side of the lock.   While it might seem cheaper to try to open it yourself, manufacturers contemplated actions to open safes by burglars and added safe guards.   Many of these interior doors have one or two relocking pins.  If the safe and/or lock is attacked these pins will fire off securing the inner lid.    Kind of like having a little man on the inside welding it shut.

If your goal is to get the container operational and/or to see what is inside the safe, either take it to a local safe company (or have them come to you), to open it.    Check your local yellow pages under "safes & Vaults" for nearby companies.   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.

Hope this helps to explain the lock.

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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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