Locksmithing/Diebold safe value


My friend has a Diebold safe which has May 1871 on the handle. We are located in Tallahassee, FL. She is trying to find the value of it. There is one like it on Ebay which is offered at $7,500.00. The safe we have has been painted over and definitely will need to be restored. Is there anyone who can look at this or if needed I can send a picture. This thing has not been moved in over 30 years due to the weight. She is in a bind right now and trying to raise money so we would like to get a fair price when selling this. Depending on value vs cost of restoration we could consider that option also. Please let me know if you have any ideas on this subject.

Thank you for your time,
Ginger Reams


The only dates which are on safes are the "Patent" dates.   These are not manufactures dates, and ONLY reference the date the patent was issued on.   Locks and equipment could have been made up to 20 years after this date (possibly longer), if THAT patent was still being referred to.   So this safe could have been made at ANY TIME between 1871 to 1900.

As far as "the one like it on Ebay" -  sorry but there is no such thing as "the one like it".  Every safe has to stand on its own "four" feet (so to speak), based on age, what you actually have, it actual condition, historical documentation, etc. etc. etc.   The fact that someone is asking $7500 for a safe, has NO bearing on what its actual worth is, and the chance that your "friend's" safe is actually like it is more likely - slim to none!

As for her "being in a bind for money", there are some real world truths that she needs to be aware of when trying to sell an antique - If you are in a hurry, then you had better be willing to except bottom dollar for the item.   If you want top dollar, then you had better be willing to hold on to the item until the right buyer comes along.
Also you mention "restoration" - if the safe needs restoration work, then it sure isn't going to be worth anywhere near $7500.   As there are only a half dozen or so, safe restorers in the country that I'm aware of, your location and proximity to one of these will be a determining factor.   Cost to restore a safe (depending on what is needed and what is done) could easily be from $500 to $5000, and take several months.

Rules for selling antique safes - your friend needs to have THREE values in mind - the ASKING price, the price they would LIKE to get, and the MINIMUM that they would accept to let the safe go, and STILL feel comfortable.
Similarly buyers should also have three values in mind - Their offering price (low), the price that they would LIKE to spend, and the MAXIMUM amount that they would feel pay, and STILL feel comfortable about their purchase.
Between the six values, there should be SOME AGREED UPON value, which at that time is WHAT THE SAFE IS ACTUALLY WORTH!

Again, time is critical in the sale - if the seller needs it to go away (or needs the money) they need to be willing to work towards a lower figure.   If there are other similar safes in the same area that the buyer is looking at, this will affect their offerings.   Also, the buyer has to consider moving the safe.   If they have to pay a safe moving company to pick up and deliver the safe - THIS cost will also affect how much they are willing to pay.

Before we get to deep into the what ifs, etc. how about we see what you have, what condition its in, what problems it has, and what solutions are available.

I would be more than happy to look at the safe for you.   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.  


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.