Locksmithing/Mosler safe



I was recently given an old Mosler safe. It was in a building that we are currently remodeling. The new owner said it was left behind and had no knowledge of its history or the combination.
The only markings on the safe are on the dial. MOSLER SAFE & LOCK CO.
Pat,d sep 7 1880, 2 Nov. 2 1880, Jul 18 1882 , Mar.4.1884, Mar.11.1884, 2 Aug.26.1884

When the dial is turned it has a faint clicking sound. Could this be a gear drive and if so, can it be open by manipulation or would it have to be drilled by a safe tech? I'm not sure the safe is worth spending a lot of money on. I'm not beyond going through the back and rebuilding it. your option would be helpful. I will attach pics. Thanks steve

Hi Steve,

The safe is what we term a Mosler thick walled fire safe, the door is a 7 stepped, triangle door.    note:   When you get it open, you will find small triangles in each corner.

The lock that I would expect to be on this safe would be a Mosler 4 wheel, hand change, friction fence type lock, so yes you may be able to hear the "gear train" noise between the drive wheel and the friction fence.  While these locks can be manipulated, you may not have anyone in your area who is competent with this type of lock.   Drilling the safe is possibly the better option, however I must warn you that your "plan B" approach to try to go through the back of the safe to open it up possibly won't work, it will be much more expensive to repair, and it would be extremely time consuming.    A trained, competent, professional safe tech should be able to open this safe AND repair it, and recover or reset the combination in about 2 hours.   If one of my apprentices took longer than two hours on this safe, I would be kicking their butts!

As far as the history of your safe, if you don't have it then it basically starts with you.   You could try to search back through previous owners, however there are no records to indicate who they might be so you would have to knock on the doors of previous owners of the building to try to gain info.

As far as the age of the safe, the dates you indicated are simply "patent issue" dates and have nothing to do with the actual age of the safe, other than to indicate that the safe COULD NOT have been made prior to the latest date - in this case August of 1884.   Usually the serial number of the safe would have been stamped into the ball of the handle - clean it off to see if there are any numbers there.   I have seen some without the serial numbers though, so it may be necessary to actually get the safe open to get photos of the interior to narrow down an age.

My recommendation would be to contact a local SAFE company to have their trained safe tech open the safe for you.   I never recommend using a locksmith as they generally do not have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes without causing excessive damage or charging exorbant fees.

Check your local yellow pages under "safes & vaults" for local companies.   If you don't have anyone in your area that can open the safe or is competent, then let me know where you are located and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.    If you have any questions concerning proposed methods of opening and repairing the safe by your safe tech, feel free to run it by me before they do the work as afterwards is simply crying over spilt milk.

Hope this helps,  good luck with your new acquisition and Happy New Year!


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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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