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Antique Safes/Picking an antique Lock


Hi Andy, I live in Media, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia that lies just south of the city. I own an antique Tantalus, which is a small, portable Liquor Cabinet that holds 2 Crystal Liquor Bottles. It Locks so only the person with a key can access the Liquor, hence the name " Tantalus ", derived from the same source as " Tantalize ". The Lock in this case is a specialized " Bramah Lock ", and the Key is gone. The only way to open this Cabinet is to Pick the Lock. As the Bramah Lock is unique, the local Locksmith who attempted to Pick it was unsuccessful. Do You know of any people in the Philadelphia who might be able to Pick this Lock? I need a local Houdini. The Tantalus weighs too much to send it out. Thanks, Andy. Best, Paul

Hi Paul,

Yes I'm familiar with this lock.   I've got a Mosler, Bahmann & Company safe from about 1885-90, in my showroom, that used this lock on the interior doors.    This lock was designed and patented in about 1784 and was so successful that it is STILL in production today in England.

Unfortunately I don't know of anyone in your area that may be able to pick the lock, however I would recommend that you contact:

Wilson Safe Company
3031 Island Ave,
Philadelphia, PA 19153
(215) 492-7100

to see if they have any recommendations in your area.

I would also recommend that you contact the factory service to see if they have any recommendations for you.    As this lock is NOT in popular use in the US, finding a trained locksmith or safe tech may not be an available option.

Bramah Locks

Service and Support
For 24/7 Locksmith Services
T 020 7637 8500 Option 2
F 020 7636 5598

I hope this helps you out, if these two references can't help you out or point you in the right direction then your options may be very limited.  

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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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