Tag Archives: antique safes

Putting Safes or Gun Safes in a Garage

Safes and gun safes left in unheated garages or buildings are subject to problems with condensation when weather suddenly warms up.  Pictured is a beautiful, but very massive, antique Diebold Safe.  It demonstrates the problem perfectly.


We recently suffered through a cold snap during which night time temperatures went below zero every night for about a week.  It took days for this 4000# antique safe to drop completely down to these temps.  Likewise, when temps quickly warmed up to 55 degrees, it took time for it to warm up again.  Our snow all melted in about two days, making the air very humid.  Warm damp air created so much condensation on the cold safe that water was running down the safe’s surface.  That water by itself will slightly damage the beautiful artwork.  But when temps plummeted again the paint was further damaged.  Just like freezing water trapped in tiny crevasses will crack the surfaces of rocks or concrete, it will crack old paint.  This kind of moisture is also bad for safe locks.

Gun vaults left in unheated environments can be damaged the same way.  Some kind of heart source inside the old Diebold would have minimized damage by keeping it from getting so cold.  We recommend using a Dry Rod, Golden Rod or even a light bulb inside gun safes to moderate temperature swings.  If you plan to keep your gun safe, or any kind of safe, in a garage, ask a safe expert for advice.

Small Antique Safes for Sale

I have been collecting small antique safes for a long time, but I have been informed that it is time to thin out the collection.  Most of these safes are from about 13” to 18” tall.  They are too small to be very functional, but cute as decorations or conversation pieces.


Some folks claim these are salesman’s samples but most were actually sold to be used for storage of cash and jewelry in a home or office.  They typically weigh from about 70 to 100 pounds – a thief could walk away with one, but at least he couldn’t run with it.  Several have handles on top so maybe a poor salesman did have to lug them around on a regular basis.  They were built to be fire proof.  Some units have real wheels underneath, some have fake wheels, some have little feet and some sit flat on the ground.  There are both key and combination lock models.


Finding small antique safes for sale with good original paint is difficult so they don’t sell cheap.  If the paint is too plain or worn out to be attractive, they can be restored or customized to suit your taste.

A small antique safe could be your adult version of a piggy bank, or a visible reminder of that special savings goal.  A financial planner I know has a very classy little unit in his office, I think because it sends a message to his customers.  A small antique safe might make a great Christmas gift.  The units shown start at $700.  Call if any of these grab your attention, 616-458-6365.  Antique safes can be delivered, picked up at our shop or shipped across the country.

Rare Antique Safe by Carl Ade

Pictured is an extremely rare Carl Ade antique safe which is for sale in our store.  This may be the only one in the U.S. as I have never seen or heard of another one.  You can find posters and prints of old Carl Ade advertisements, but not actual safes.  A German member of the Safe and Vault Technician’s Association has seen several in Europe.  He said it was built in Stuttgart Germany between 1888 and 1892.  This particular safe was brought to Michigan in the 1970’s by a German manufacturer when they built a factory here.

Carl Odde Safe 008Carl Odde Safe 002Carl Odde Safe 001Carl Odde Safe 006


The safe is 36” tall by 28” wide and is built into a beautiful wooden cabinet which is 67” tall.  It Carl Odde Safe 004features true German quality including the most air-tight door I have ever seen.  The key is a rectangular brass tube ½” x 3/16” x 2 ¼”, with openings on the end and one side to expose precision tumblers inside.  Security is enhanced by unique hook-type bolts, which I have not seen anywhere else.

Carl Odde Safe 022Carl Odde Safe 013

If anyone has ever seen another Carl Ade safe please call to let me know.  We are always looking to buy high quality antique safes and vault doors.

Antique Safes: San Francisco Tea Company

Antique safes can be interesting and fun, and they offer a little glimpse into our history.  They also make great conversation pieces in the home or office.  Unfortunately, the exteriors of many have been painted over, like the Mosler Brahnamn which is the subject of this post.


A customer got this old safe from an abandoned building.  The combination was unknown so it needed to be opened.  While the original outside paint in covered up, the interior is still very cool. In about 1885 the San Francisco Tea Company must have paid top dollar for this safe with all the extra decorations.  Check out the great paintings inside.  In particular, look at the well-dressed Indian chief.  Doesn’t he look rather European for a Native American?

Nice antiques are getting hard to find, and going up in price.  If you are seriously interested in getting an antique safe, email us with information on the size you want as well as price range.

Antique Safe — the Ultimate Breweriana

“Breweriana” is what collectors of beer-related stuff, call that beer-related stuff they collect.  Usually those items consist of bottles, signs, bottle openers, tap handles, etc.  This beautiful antique J. Baum safe is from 1908 and was owned by Furniture City Brewing Company.  Not one collector in a hundred would have an old brewer’s safe.


Furniture City Brewing was one of the last independent brewers here in Grand Rapids.  As far as I can tell they were in business from 1905 to 1919.  Old pictures show that their building was a big four story structure.  There are still a few Furniture City bottles around, but nothing else that I could find.  Incidentally, Grand Rapids was a big beer town a hundred years ago, and the phenomenal growth in our modern local brewers has earned us the title of “Beer City USA” two years in a row.


This antique safe is a perfect size at 32.5”h x 21.5”w x 20”d.  It would make a great end table, TV stand or holder of other breweriana.  On a scale of 1 to 10 it would get about a 9.5 because its original paint is very interesting and in unusually great condition.  The interior is also very nice showing only minor wear.  It also came with four very old money pouches bank bags which may have held the brewery’s “beer money”.

There are no immediate plans for this Furniture City Brewing safe.  It will be on display at our shop for a few months.  I will entertain serious offers from interested buyers.

Small Antique Safes

Small antique safes with good original paint and ornate graphics are very hard to find.  This beautiful little Victor, standing only 20.5″ high by 14″ wide, is a gem.  The red emblem on the inside door panel is uncommon, but not rare.  It lists all of Victor’s patents which were used on the safe.  The most recent patent shown is 1889, so the safe was probably built before 1895.


Elaborate graphics and hand painted outdoor scenes on such a small safe are rare.  Rarer still is that the original paint is still intact.  The pictures shown here are not as sharp as I would like, because the safe was sold before we could even clean it.  If you have a small antique that you no longer want, or if you would like to buy one, please contact us at Hoogerhyde Safe.

Antique Pedestal Safes

You can currently see two antique pedestal safes, circa 1870, by Marvin Safe Company in our shop.  The smaller has been completely restored and the larger is all original.  These are sometimes called Brothel or Boudoir Safes because they were frequently used in bordellos.  Pedestal safes were very expensive when new (they still are as antiques), and made in small numbers by about four companies.  Many were certainly tipped over and broken, making them very rare now.  These two are in my personal collection but I am willing to sell the smaller unit for $7500.  If you are looking for a truly special piece for you home, splurge on a rare antique safe.

Antique safes and fire resistance

Most antique safes were intended to be fire resistant safes — they were filled with concrete or some other material for that purpose. This is what makes the walls so thick and what makes the safes so heavy. But in the “old days” there was no standardized testing program, so it was all just a guess. Some years ago we even found a note from a manufacturer glued to the bottom of a drawer inside a safe.  The note said that the fire resistance of safes was an inexact science, and that if this safe ever went through a fire it’s condition should be reported back to the manufacturer to help them gauge effectiveness of their fire insulation.

Two months ago a customer brought in an antique Alpine brand safe.  Her house was completely destroyed by fire.  Pictures of the burned house showed that the only spot where rubble stood more than 2 feet tall, was the place where the safe rested underneath charred remains.  When our technician opened the safe (they rarely work after going through a fire) it was found to be completely full of papers, none of which were burned.  It’s impossible to predict, but not all antiques would have held up as well as this Alpine.  The woman was thrilled to recover all her documents, and she kept the safe even though it was no longer useable.