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Locksmithing/Mosler safe general questions


Hi Andy, I recently got a rather large Mosler & Bowen fire safe. It is about 5' tall, 2' deep and maybe 30" wide (I have yet to measure it). Outside is painted the "Mosler Bowen & co, Broadway & 10th" logo, gold script on a black safe, but inside the door is "Mosler Safe & Lock Co, Cincinnati O" with (down low) "Pat Mch 22, '81. Mch 6, July 17 & Aug 28, '83". 3 dial combination which I just decoded - first number CW, 3 turns CCW, then 2 turns CW, then CCW to unlatch. Serial number appears to be 84500 - not only is that number carved into the concrete inside the door inner panel (with the locking mech) but also stamped into each piece of the locking mechanism. The locking mech is one locking bolt up, three locking bolts to the side, and one locking bolt down, all connected to a single handle. Wall thickness is, I'd estimate...six inches at least.

I like it. I saved it from being scrapped. Now that I've deciphered the combination, I'll most likely USE it. And, I'm intrigued. All the lit I'm finding (not a lot) says it should have a 6 digit SN - it clearly does not. Any guesses on actual age? I've found that the Cincinnati logo can denote a different time frame than the Broadway logo...even more confusing. And lastly - is it worth anything, other than the novelty of "I've got this cool old big heavy WORKING fire safe"?

I just wish I could put it in my house - but it's heavy enough it dimpled the diamondplate deck on my 7,000 lb car trailer when I brought it home! I'm keeping it in the garage, I suppose.

Any information you can provide would be wonderful, thanks!
Cascade, MD

Hi Joe,

"Mosler, Bowen & Company was a distributor in Mexico City, Mexico.   George Washington Bradford Cook, Jr, was Secretary of the Mosler Safe & Lock Company and a partner in Mosler, Bowen & Company.   This distributor ship was around from about 1889 until the early 1900's, maybe as late as 1911.   At one point Mr. Cook had over 450 people working for him, selling and installing safes in Mexico.
The "Broadway" location was simply a sales office or the "US" office for the distributor ship.

The manufacturer of the safe was actually the Mosler Safe & Lock Company.   Based on your serial number the safe would have been made during he late 1880's to early 1890's  (1888-1893).

I'm not sure what "literature" you are researching to come up with the idea that it should have a "6 digit serial number", but if you got it off the internet, then I would refer you to an early computer terminology (1980's) describing this phenomenon - called "GIGO" which stands for "Garbage in - Garbage out".   Computers are ONLY as good as the info put in - period!   There is equally as much bad info as there is good info.

As far as its potential value, without seeing it - sorry I have no idea.   My wife broke my crystal ball about the same time she killed my money tree.

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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