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How to Sell Antique Safes

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You’ve just purchased an early 1900s building for your company’s expansion. Upon your initial inspection, you noticed a huge old safe in one corner of a former office. Although the metal finish was dulled and the lettering faded, you can see the safe is a wonderful old piece of history. However, it has no place in your company’s modern offices. You’d like to sell the safe to someone who will appreciate it, but aren’t quite sure where to begin.

Identify and value the safe. The Antique Safe Collector web site provides information and pictorial references for antique safes and safe banks. The Antique Safe Collector, a private individual who has collected antique safes for twenty years, notes that several types of antique safes were made. These included full-size safes (including floor and bank safes), miniature or personal safes, salesman’s samples, and safe banks. Combinations or keys (sometimes both) were used to open the safes. For identification and valuation assistance, contact The Antique Safe Collector. The Antique Safe Collector web site also displays photographs of old safes for your reference (See Reference 1).

Get the safe restored and repaired. Although a buyer might appreciate the safe in “as is” condition, your prospects (and possibly profits) will improve if the safe has been professionally restored and repaired. All About Safes and Vaults is a company specializing in the restoration of antique safes, as well as opening safes and other repairs. The company also has the equipment and expertise to transport safes of all sizes and weights (See Reference 2).

Sell the safe to a targeted buyer. Examples of this approach include: (1) Selling a bank safe to a bank, either for display or use; (2) Selling a gun safe to a gun collector; or (3) Selling a jewelry safe to someone with a fine jewelry collection.

Sell on a specialized online marketplace. The Antique Safe Collector web site allows free “Sell Your Safe” ad listings that last for thirty days (with a potential thirty-day extension). Safes of 1910 vintage or older are eligible for these listings. The seller must provide a full description of the safe, several photographs, dimensions, and an asking price. The Antique Safe Collector web site claims no responsibility for the accuracy of the seller's information, or for any part of the sales transaction (See Reference 3).

Sell the safe at auction. The Antique Trader web site maintains a state-by-state calendar of antique auction listings. Auctions are conducted by professional auction companies. In addition, the Antique Trader web site conducts periodic online auctions each year. Virtual catalogs appear before the online auctions, and absentee, phone, and Internet bids are accepted (See Resources).

Consign the safe at an antique dealer. Bear in mind that although antique shops may be popular destinations for buyers who love old collectibles, there’s no guarantee shoppers will be looking for antique safes. In addition, the proprietor might not possess the expertise to properly market the antique safe.

Things You'll Need:

  • Full set of photographs of the safe
  • Safe markings or identification data
  • Safe keys or combination instructions
  • List of targeted buyers in your area
  • Listing information for free ad on The Antique Safe Collector website
  • List of antique auctions in your area
  • List of antique dealers in your area
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