Locksmithing/New/Old Safe



I have just acquired a Hamilton Hall Safe...I have no actual information about the safe.....I have the combination... It has the tear gas tubes...  Are you familiar with this safe as in the approx. year of the safe..... value....does it resemble a bank safe?....  I have additional images for review also.


The safe is a "Herring-Hall-Marvin Safe Company" from Hamilton, Ohio, not a Hamilton Hall Safe.

Obviously to answer any questions about your safe, I will need MUCH BETTER photos.  The ones that you have provided are basically "postage stamp pics", which have no resolution or capability for me to review them.   The safe is also, NOT a "bank" type safe.   This style was built as a fire resistive container for storing documents to protect them from fire or heat.

A note on the Badger tear gas protective system.   The chemicals in these tubes is probably a CS/CN typ tear gas, which is highly dangerous, and illegal for you to own or possess in most states without a proper license.   Having it attached to the safe also is considered "booby trapping" which is a felony in many states.   The chemicals attack all of the mucas membranes and can be lethal to anyone who may have any type of breathing disorder.

Options for removal include:

1.  contacting the police or fire department.   Downside - they will probably respond with a HAZMAT team and/or the bomb squad.   While over-reacting, this is a very dangerous device, and they realize it.   You may be charged with possession of the device (fined or arrested), and you may also be liable for any costs associated with the removal of the device.

2.  have a trained safe technician from a local safe company remove and dispose of the device.  Upside - you won't have the bomb squad or HAZMAT team tearing your house up, and/or you won't wind up with fines and/or possible jail time.

3.  you try the DIY approach.   Extremely dangerous and not recommended.   If the vials break inside your house or office, the effects of the chemicals may linger for weeks, meaning you can't use your house or office for an extended period.   If anyone in the area is exposed to the chemicals, depending on their health and exposure, they may have reactions from severe discomfort to death.   Again, the police, fire department, HAZMAT and Bomb squads may be involved resulting in charges and fines.

If the vials break in the open, the chemicals should disipate fairly quickly with no lasting effects.   If you decide to dispose of the vials, do it in a large open area where no one is located, and where the wind will not carry the chemicals to a populated area.   Like an old quarry.

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 10mb 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 on line 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.


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 42 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. 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 Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes".

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

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 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)

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