Locksmithing/Mosler Safe


QUESTION: I read a story on here about a guy who purchased a safe at a yard sale & you spoke about the serial number. I was recently willed a Mosler safe, and just had an Antique Appraiser come in and appraise the safe and tell me it is from the 1870's and worth about $500, he said they call them the  "NUT BUSTER" because of the shear weight of these safes, my question is where would I locate the serial number on the safe, it is impossible for me to move it, it is on wheels if the serial number is on the bottom

ANSWER: Debbie,

First I'm not sure who your "appraiser" was, but in 42 years I've never heard anyone use the term "Nut Buster" applied to a safe, so two things are very apparent:  #1 This guy isn't very professional, and #2 he has no idea what he is talking about.    Hopefully you didn't actually pay this "person" anything for his unknowledgeable and unprofessional opinion!

If the safe has a serial number (many of the later ones after the 1920's may not), it would be stamped in the ball of the handle, and should be very apparent.   As far as it being from the 1870's, unless it has a really low serial number, I doubt that it is.    

The Mosler safe company didn't start until 1874.   While many people use the 1867 date as a start, they are simply uninformed, not having researched the historical information.   While it is true that Gustave Mosler and Fred Bahmann began the "MOSLER, BAHMANN & Company" in 1867, this was NOT the Mosler Safe Company.    Shortly after Gustave's death in 1874, his heirs split away from Mosler, Bahmann & Company to begin a NEW company - the Mosler Safe & Lock Company.   Both companies were located in Cincinnati, OH. until about 1891 when Mosler moved to Hamilton, OH.   Mosler, Bahmann & Company remained in Cincinnati until sometime in the late 1890's.    Mosler incorporated in 1879 as the Mosler Safe Company - so if your safe is a Mosler Safe Company safe, it couldn't have been built until after 1880!    And depending on the serial number and/or the city it is listed in, it may not have been built until much later.

As far as evaluating or appraising your safe I would be more than happy to look at it to see what you have.

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.   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:  andy@securitysafeusa.com

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.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I originally only asked the appraiser to come to appraise an antique roll top desk and asked him to look at the safe as well, I had many other items he looked at and he only charged me $50, I was really not impressed with his appraisal on the hutch, telling me that it is only worth $400-$500, when I seen one sold on an auction same style & period for $2500

I will take pics of the safe in detail and send them to you, I appreciate the time to talk to me & look into this.

I will get these pics done soon.


Hi Debbie,

Unfortunately there are a lot of "antique appraisers" out there that think they can evaluate or appraise anything.   Remember the old "Dirty Harry" movie where Clint Eastwood says - "a man's GOT to know his limitations!"     

No one can know everything about everything!   I appreciate people that are humble enough to tell you that an item is outside of their area of expertise, and possibly recommend someone who may know more about it.

My area of expertise is older and/or antique safes, yet I'm the first to tell you that if I can't ID it or evaluate it, I probably know someone that can.    Though over the years it seems that many of my friends are starting to refer me, back to me!   LOL!

I am more than happy to take the time to look at what you have to try to ID it for you.   And UNLESS you absolutely have to have a formal evaluation for estate sales, insurance reasons or to establish it as an antique, I don't charge for my service.    Hopefully the information that I provide you is worthy of the time and effort that you put in to obtaining the photos of your safe.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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. 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

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 - 2014 - Listed in AllExperts Top 50 Experts. All Expert 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 and Western Nevada)

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.