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Locksmithing/Schwab Safe with Yale Lock


Yale Lock and handle
Yale Lock and handle  
Schwab Safe w/ Yale Lock
Schwab Safe w/ Yale Lo  
QUESTION: Hello sir,

I would like your input on a safe we have acquired. The safe was picked up by my husband only a block away from where it would have "lived" most of it's life. Being moved to this new location by the safe's second owner as late as 1984. I would like your help in dating it, my research has been unproductive. Also it appears to have been drilled, I assume the second owner was in the same boat we are and was unable to open it. The hole seems to be filled with an epoxy or resin is my best uneducated guess. Can you tell what was likely done looking at the hole drilled in this particular location? Just curious if the drilling provided only a "look see" for dial manipulation or if it was a means to "crack" the safe and it was repaired after opening. I will include a photo here along with my description as to help any future seeker and then I will email you the high quality photos like you prefer. I don't hold out any hope of hidden valuables inside, lol, nor do I think the safe itself holds any value at all. In fact, I'm positive it is worthless as is, mainly only because I researched so my husband didn't barter out work for it like was suggested.
The safe is an upright chest with non-caster type wheels. The Logo on the door reads "The Schwab Safe Co., Lafayette, Ind USA." The combination style lock is stamped with "Yale." The handle and hinges I think are a good indicator of manufacturing years, so hopefully a photo will help others. There is a very simple pin-striping design on the front and sides but not the back, that is faded and obscured by dirt and grime. The is no fancy scroll work or embellishments to the design. I fancied that safes like this were not cheap to purchase at the time. If they personalize it for you I imagined it was to sweeten the deal, but obviously fun conjecture on my part. When I looked up the this gentleman is when I found out he took over a plumbing company the his father founded in 1908, the location of store, and their living space above, on our Main St. The timing also overlapped with when my family moved here and owned/operated our motel. In the 50's Daytona Beach had yet to make it's mark in the tourism industry and I knew a plumber located on the beach would have been the first place my granddad went. Sure enough, when I ask if he remembered Grant Plumbing, he did. He described his dealings with them after they doubled billed for a job they did at our motel. He took his invoices into the store and based on their "back pedaling" and lame excuses while they issued his refund he decided they were "crooks" and he never returned to their establishment. Let me add though that my grandfather is not prone to hysterics nor had he developed a biased opinion as he later would after becoming a cop. My only point being that maybe Harold Grant didn't have the same business sense as his father did.

ANSWER: Hi Lindsey,

Sorry to take so long to get back to you, but I've been involved over the past couple weeks with a business acquisition which took up much of my time.

Your safe was probably manufactured during the 1920's to 1940's.  This was a very common or standard design for Schwab at that time.   The lock I would expect to find on this safe would be a Yale OB series, three wheel lock with a gravity lever.   The dialing sequence for the lock would be:

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 lever engages the lock and the dial stops.

Note:   left is counter clockwise, right is clockwise.    As this lock has hand change wheels, there are approximately 1,000,000 possible combinations available.

As far as the cost of the safe at the time it was sold "not being cheap", I suppose the term is relative based on your concept of value at the time - prior to and during the great depression.   During the depression era years and slightly before, these safes were probably being sold for around $250-$500, depending on where you purchased it and any optional extras.   Painting the customers name on the safe was pretty much done not only to make the customer feel more personalized, but also as a status symbol.   Many safes were displayed either behind the counter/cash register area, or near by in an office.    Safes were not hidden away as this was a way to tell burglars that there was no cash easily accessible.    Not that this safe was a burglary resistive safe, its primary design was to protect records and documents from fire and that is what would have mainly been stored inside it.

That's a great story that your grandfather told you about the previous owners, and makes the safe that much more interesting when you use it and display it.

As far as the previously drilled hole.   This wasn't done to manipulate the safe open or to recover the combination, this was a type method that was done by someone who really didn't know what they were doing, while it may have gotten the safe open, it is a destructive method many times causing irreparable damage, and/or parts having to be remade.   If your idea was to reuse the hole to try to open the safe, I would warn against it.   As parts are NOT going to be readily available, the cost to fabricate new parts may be more than the safe is currently worth.

Again, "valuable" is a relative term.    As the safe might be worth $800 to $1000 - open with a working combination and in good condition throughout,  it currently has a negative value in that it would cost you to have it opened, and any damages would be additional.    If it costs $350 to $500 to have it opened and if they used the same hole and damaged the handle, handle cam or the gravity lever, costs to repair or replace these parts could be another $300 to $500, meaning that the current value of your safe would be either 0 or a negative, minus any money you have already paid for the safe.

Note:   The safe can be opened using non destructive methods by a trained safe technician.   My first recommendation would be to discuss the project with your local safe company to see what methods they offer and/or recommendations they might have.    If you aren't satisfied with their recommendations feel free to discuss them with me.    If you don't have a local safe company (not locksmiths), let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.

Hope this helps,

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

QUESTION: Thank you Mr. Andreasen. Did you receive the email I sent with additional photos?
When I googled Safe Companies for my area there were only a few results and all were described as "safe and locksmith." I'm in a suburb of Daytona Beach, 32129. There are probably safe companies in one of the bigger metro areas, Orlando or Jacksonville being the closest but still an hours drive. But it's like you said spending a couple hundred bucks on getting the safe open just isn't worth it. The gentleman who most recently owned the safe, from what I've been told is still alive but with diminished mental faculties. I suppose there's a chance that one day a combination will be found among his belongings but since he's an acquaintance of an acquaintance I doubt the importance of the discovery will be recognized or even passed along. It's a shame because I do love anything old and cool, much to my husband's dismay, and we were hoping it could be used as a safe to keep our firearms outta reach for our 7 year old. Not that she hasn't been well educated in the rules of the house but I'm sure that statement was uttered by many a parent after a tragedy. I was most interested to find out about the drilled hole and as I suspected the action caused damaged, so many thanks for explaining that to me in addition to all your other information.


ANSWER: Hi Lindsey,

Yes, the closest company that I would recommend would be in Orlando.

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

The next closest would be:

International Safe & Vault Services
1515 NE 32nd Ave
Ocala, Fl  34470

One of these companies should be able to help you out.

As far as using the safe for firearm storage - there are two issues besides keeping the guns away from the 7 year old.    #1 - this safe is designed for storage of records / documents.   #2 - It is not designed for overnight storage of cash, jewelry or valuables.     Maximum storage value for this safe should NOT exceed $5000.
As for the 7 year old I raised 3 kids, 3 grand kids, and two nieces - in addition to the talk, they learned to shoot and handle the guns at the range AND to clean the guns before they go in the safe.   Of course I shoot a LOT, so with a combination of hands on at the range AND LOTS and LOTS of cleaning - the curiosity part was NEVER a problem.    Probably one of my proudest moments was at the range, when my wife told my daughter that she wanted to shoot the gun my daughter was using - my daughter (9 years old) told her I can't let you have the gun until I tell you all of the safeties!      With 39 years in the military, I can tell you that while house rules are "nice", hands on training is much better.
We have three high school shooting teams at our range - one of them has been US National High School Champions for the last two years.   My brother and I sponsor several young shooters for beginning training for Olympic shooting.

Good luck, hope one of the above companies can help you out.

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

QUESTION: I had planned on the "hands on" learning and training but I just thought she was too young still. In fact, right now she is SO not interested in even touching them. She hates the noise and makes MY Dad take her ATV riding or to the fishing hole. That's the only time we practice is when we go to my Dad's bosses' cabin; 3000 acres on Lake Disston. Do you think it's ok to wait a little bit?
And no worries with the 5k limit on valuables in the safe, even cumulatively we wouldn't reach that amount, lol.
Thank you so much for taking the time to converse with me, I am very appreciative and have also enjoyed learning from your extensive knowledge.
Sincerely, Lindsey Fidler

Hi Lindsey,

Yeah, my youngest grandson was about 15 before he decided to try them out.     I never forced any of them, but waited until they were ready.

My youngest daughter used it as a decision making tool when deciding to date.    She would bring a potential boyfriend to the range with us - if he couldn't shoot nearly as good my daughter that was the end of that boy!      LOL

I always started small and let them work up as they learned there was little to fear.    None of them are shooting my big guns as they are pretty scary, but we still do a lot of shooting as a family.

I had pretty much this same safe about 30 years ago, but a smaller version.    I brought it home to refurbish and of course my wife told me I didn't need another safe, so being smart, I told her it was for her use - so SHE restored it, however she painted it pink, with black trim on the angles.   She embossed a nice picture of a castle scene on the front.    Relettered it in gold paint, polished the handle and hinge finials, and redid the interior cabinetry.    Then she sold it for $1000!!!!!!    Go figure!
I didn't think anyone would want a pink safe, but she didn't have any trouble selling it!

good luck.  


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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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