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Locksmithing/Questions on old safe - THE HALL'S SAFE COMPANY CINCINNATI


Hall\'s Safe (Front)
Hall's Safe (Front)  

Hall\'s Safe (Handle & Dial)
Hall's Safe (Handle &  

I am currently looking at purchasing an older safe that I found online and had a few questions about it that I thought you might have answers to.  

1)The outside of the safe has "THE HALL'S SAFE COMPANY CINCINNATI" printed on the front of the door.  There is also a door logo which has a white background which has the following disclaimer written in fine print "NOT HALL'S SAFE & LOCK CO.(WHICH QUIT BUSINESS IN 1892)OR ITS SUCCESSOR."  Inside the door has "HALL PATENT APRIL 3d 1906" printed.  The Bolt Handle has the numbers 55563 stamped onto it.  I am assuming that the safe was manufactured after 1906, and I know that the Hall brothers had some legal issues with using the HALL'S name, which I believe was resolved around 1908, so not sure if the year of manufacture was between 1906 and 1908 or after.  Is the number on the handle a serial number that can better pinpoint its year of manufacture?

2)The backplate on the inside of the Door has a hole on the right hand side midway down the door, do you know the purpose of this hole was?

3)The door for the inside cavity of the safe also has a hole on the left hand side midway down the door, was this for some sort of handle, or did the inner door have a locking mechanism such as a combination dial as well? (there is no handle or lock on this door, do you have any names of companies that deal in selling antique safe parts that you could recommend?)

4)Do you know if this safe utilizes a 'Change Key' style of lock or does it have "screw change" type lock?  Are there any drawbacks to either style?

5)The overall outside dimensions of the safe (including wheels) are approx: 33"W, 26"D, 50.5"H.  The inside cavity dimensions are approx: 20"W, 11"D, 29"H.  Do you have any catalogue records of how heavy this safe may be?

6)Is there any general maintenance you should do on the lock system or on the bolt locking mechanism such as lubrication, etc?

7)Were the safes that were manufactured by the Hall brothers after they started up their own business well made in comparison to other manufacturers of their time?




I'll see if I can't answer most of your questions, though if you have specific questions I'll need to see photos of the item in question so that I can speak directly about it, otherwise, I'm simply giving my interpretation of what I think you are asking about (remember the story about the four blind wise men, trying to describe an elephant, yet each of them had hold of a different part???   While they were all describing the same beast, every description was exceedingly different).
Questions in order:   (I'm going to start charging by the question - :))

1.  Hall's Safe Company used several variations of this decal over a period of time probably starting around 1904.  By 1915 they had pretty well quit using the decal as the legal issues were well over.
You are incorrect instating that the "Hall brothers had legal issues with using the name Hall".   It was Herring-Hall-Marvin safe Company that had legal issues with the Hall brothers using the name.   Bottom line the Supreme Court ruled that while they had given up any rights to their father's company, "Hall Safe & Lock Company" and/or any references to their working there, when they sold their interests during the Herring-Hall-Marvin merger, they had NEVER given up the right to use their name, with any business venture - which in this case was selling safes, manufactured by them.    The reason that it took several court challenges by HHM before the case made its way up the ladder, is that HHM had money problems and went through at least one bankruptcy proceeding in the late 1890's.   The reorganized company had to start the lawsuits all over again.

2.  I made need photos for this question.   I'm "ASSUMING" that you are talking about the LOCK back plate, and the small square (rectangle) hole (a little over 1/4" long by 1/16" wide).   As the lock is a "screw change" lock, this hole utilized a special "key" to discover the new combination, after it had been changed.   By turning the dial in the correct directions, as each wheel gate aligns at this location, the "key" would slide into the wheel's gate.   You would then note the corresponding number on the dial for this wheel.   Reverse the direction of the dial until the next wheel's gate aligns and the key slides into its gate.
Not having this key is NOT critical, as you can simply look into the slot with a good flashlight, and observe each wheel.   As its gate aligns with the hole, observe the corresponding number on the dial, then reverse directions for the next wheel.

NOTE:  If this is not what you are referring to then I'll need photos.

3.  Again I have no idea what "hole" you are referring to???   I have to "ASSUME" that you are referring to the safe "day door".   Generally these did not have handles or locking bolt work.   They simply had key locks installed.   The nose of the key lock either had a handle built into it, or the key itself was used to pull the door open.   

Note:  If this is not what you are referring to then I'll need photos.

4.  Already answered, based on the info I have.  See answer #2.   As far as drawbacks, these locks are apples and oranges.  You can't compare them, and it really doesn't matter if you are interested in this safe - you get the lock installed.

5.  Sorry, but catalogs are few and far between.  Based on the size you have given me, I would estimate it at 600 to 800 lbs.   May be a little more or less, but you can't go wrong by over estimating when you are moving heavy safes.   
(Actually we consider anything UNDER 1500 lbs as light weight.  1500 to 3000 lbs medium weight, 3000 to 6,000 as heavy and over 6000 as super heavy weight.   When you get over 10,000 lbs it really doesn't matter as EVERY THING WILL SQUISH YOUR TOES!!!

6.  Yes, I do recommend regular cleaning, lubrication and maintenance.   However as this does require disassembly, I don't recommend it as a DIY project for the same reason that I don't recommend using locksmiths for safe work.   Lack of training, knowledge and tools can result in expensive lockouts.  While I'm sure that you are probably going to do this yourself, I still have to recommend that you contact a local safe company to have them do it correctly.

7.  Pretty much ALL of the safe manufactured during the late 1800's through the start of the great depression were manufactured the same.   Though there were companies like Safe Cabinet Company, Globe-Wernicke and several others that were merely making "OFFICE" equipment for fire resistance.   While these containers did utilize a lock for security, they were NOT safes by the standard sense.

If you have any more questions or if some of the ones above don't reflect your question, I'll need photos of the item you have a question about.   You can send it to me at:      Don't expect me to remember this posting, you will need to state your question concerning the photo you send.   Oh yeah and starting tomorrow second and subsequent questions are starting at $125 ea.   :)

Hope this helps,


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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

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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