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Locksmithing/Locked antique combination safe


safe dial
safe dial  
Farrel Herring  Parlor Safe
Farrel Herring Parlor  
QUESTION: Hi, I have acquired  Farrel,Herring Victorian Egyptian Revival Budoir Safe thats is locked and do not have combination, Dial spins freely, I would like to know how to find a locksmith to open and make safe usable,  Thank You

ANSWER: Hi Tony,

Finding a locksmith is not a problem though finding a safeman is more difficult.    Note:   I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for safe work as generally they do not have the knowledge, training and/or tools to work on safes without causing excessive damage and/or charging exorbant fees.   

There are possibly a couple safemen in the Florida area that I might recommend, however I would need to know where you and/or the safe are located (zip code).

This is a very nice safe to find, and as such it should be treated as an irreplaceable antique.   Meaning that any locksmith or safeman that you choose to work on the safe should do so without damaging or ruining the safe.    Any one that even indicates that they can open the safe but will ruin it in the process should be avoided like the plague!!!

While manipulation is very possible on this lock, you may not have anyone in your area trained or proficient in this skill.    Drilling the safe, if done correctly, will not damage the safe or lock.   The very small hole 1/8" to 1/4" can be easily repaired, though this should be an optional method not the primary method.

Your other option would be to make a spreadsheet up, of possible combinations.    The lock that I would expect to find on this would be a Dexter 3 wheel lock with the dialing sequence of:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right slowly until the dial stops, then the safe should be open.

Note:   Left is counter clockwise and right is clockwise.   DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.

As it appears that you only have a 25 number dial, the number of possible combinations to try is very workable.   Total test combos should be around  15,625   Which is A LOT LESS than the 1,000,000 possible combo's on a standard lock with a 100 number dial.

As you don't have any valuables locked in the safe that you need yesterday, I would recommend taking the time to test dial until you get it open.   Testing 250 combo's per day would only take you a couple months to test them all.   Make it a family project.   I'm sure that you won't have to dial them all to get it open.

If you still need the name of a safe company or individual that I might recommend then send me your zip code and I'll see who I might know.

hope this helps,

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

QUESTION: Hi, I live in Cental florida Zip Code 32163, Any Recomendation of A Safe Company would be Appreciated, Thank You Tony

Hi Tony,

I forgot to mention potential value of your safe, so that you understand the importance of not having it damaged.   Several years ago I was at an auction in Denver, PA where several of these safes from various manufacturers went on sale.    Most of them were in better condition than yours, some having had restoration work done.    These safes sold from a low of $1200 to a high of $9000.   Does this mean that your safe has this value???   Not necessarily as value depends on what you have AND what condition it is in.   Also, in general, most auctions tend to get higher values than selling independently as they are advertised and you may have multiple parties bidding on the same safe.

Currently your safe has a "negative value", that being the cost to get it opened, repaired and the combination recovered.    I would expect that a fair price to open the safe should be in the $350 to $500 range.

I have several companies that you can discus the project with.    Hopefully one of them will be satisfactory.

International Safe & Vault Co.
352.362.1782          Robert Talsky
1515 NE 32nd Ave
Ocala, Fl  34470

Just Safes LLC
407 281-8018          Alberto Fernandez
509 N. Semoran Blvd.
Orlando, Fl  32807

Belden's Safe & Lock
904-396-2022          Michael Belden
PO BOX 47396
Jacksonville, FL   32247

Hope this helps, if none are satisfactory let me know and I'll see who else I might know, though they will probably be further away.  


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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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