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There's a large herring hall Marvin safe for sale close by me. I have purchased a couple antique safes in the past. It is a large safe looks like at least 5 feet tall. Looks to be in pretty fair condition with a working lock. Do you have any idea on what a safe like this would be worth?

One of the safes I already own has the lettering The American Safe and Lock Co. On the front. I can't seem to find any info on it. If you know anything about that company any information would be appreciated.

Thank you

Hi Luke,

I would be more than happy to look at each of your safes (individually) to try to answer any questions that you have about them, but I will need photos.

One thing that appears to be in the photo of the HHM that is of concern, is it looks like there is a Tear Gas canister attached to the back of the active door.    This presents several serious problems.

The type of tear gas used in the glass vials in these canisters was almost a military grade, and it is currently against the law to own.    Possession of the chemicals are generally a misdemeanor in most states, but I would recommend checking your local laws to see where you stand.

Second problem is having the device installed on the safe.   In MOST states this is considered booby-trapping and is generally a Felony.

"IF" this device is activated, even accidentally, and if someone is injured or dies as a result of exposure to the tear gas, you can imagine the seriousness of the offense.    Anyone who has ANY type of breathing problems and especially children exposed to the gas in a confined area, may have SERIOUS reactions.

To give you an idea of how serious it is, if you contact your local police or fire department to have the device removed - they will show up with a HAZMAT team at a minimum, and possibly the Bomb squad.    In addition to any fines that you may be subject to, you may also have to pay for their services to deactivate the device or remove it.

What are your options???    I generally would recommend that you contact a local safe company to have the device removed.   Most trained safe technicians can safely remove the device, and if they have any type of working relationship with the local PD, they can also dispose of it without any fines or penalties, though you will still have costs for their services.

While the DIY approach is always an option, I don't recommend it for most of the reasons listed above.    If you accidently break or activate the device, and/or if someone - including yourself - inhales the tear gas, you could face some serious penalties.

As you have indicated that you are interested in buying the container, I would discuss the Tear Gas with the current owner.   If it has been deactivated and the tear gas removed, then it isn't a problem.   If not then you will have to decide whether or not you want these potential headaches - its just my job to point out problems like this.

as far as looking at your safes, or any potential purchases, I would be happy to look at them (individually).

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 12mb 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, unless they are very clear and of sufficient resolution.   Also, please don’t use online, internet 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:

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

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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