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A look at vintage safes

Before our modern era of passwords, automated security, and even facial recognition software, how could a person protect their personal valuables?

The forerunners of today's safes may have looked and functioned very differently, but they were state of the art for their time. Today, these antique safes are still some of the most intricate, safe, and fascinating objects ever created. Unlike modern safes, which are mass-produced and have lost the individuality and exclusivity that their predecessors had, vintage safes are unique mysteries that hide hidden treasures.

Many of the earliest castles and old safes were used by monasteries and churches in their sacristies to protect sacred vessels, parish records and other valuables. They were also used instead of banks by rich people, merchants and businessmen to store money, jewelry and important documents.

Safes using multiple unique keys were extremely useful for business partners because it meant that if each partner had their own key, everyone would need to be present to open the safe, ensuring mutual honesty.

In the 19th century, the demand for safes grew. European craftsmen have developed a skill in making safes from cast iron. Industry in Europe, especially in England, flourished, and the active use of transport meant that trade expanded across the continent. These factors led to excess capital in both institutions and individuals, requiring funds to protect these assets.

The transport of goods by train, wagon, or ship was common, but potential losses from theft, fire, and bad weather had to be considered. Safes from the period, although very heavy, were portable and often accompanied businessmen on these trips to keep money and their most valuable goods safe.

The effectiveness of both modern and antique safes is inextricably linked to the complexity of their locking mechanisms. Early safe safe manufacturers were extremely skilled at creating new and unusual ways to protect valuables. Hidden keyholes, multiple keys, tricky combinations, and other secrets are a common theme for old safes.

One of the most exciting aspects of these vintage floor safes is the fact that many of them show no clues on how to access their inside based on their appearance. For example, this 17th-century safe requires a special, pointed key that must be pressed in an inconspicuous button to open doors with a latch from the outside - only then will hidden keyholes be revealed. After that, you need to know the exact way, almost like a puzzle, how to manipulate the unique keys in order to successfully access the contents of the safe.

Each key to this 17th century safe is completely unique and must be turned in the correct order, the correct number of times, to gain access.

This Belgian iron safe, built around 1875 and of exceptional craftsmanship, locks with a device that can be called the forerunner of the modern combination lock, as well as an excellent example of a safe as a decorative item.

The cast iron safe is designed to inspire confidence in its strength and safety. His exterior is adorned with heavy metal ornaments, including elaborately detailed grotesque masks. Pulling out the central false drawer reveals a hidden keyhole and a modern series of four letter dials that need to be set to the correct code in order to insert the key. When the key is inserted and turned, the heavy door can be opened to reveal the inside of the safe. Once inside, another key unlocks the secret compartment inside.

The interior of the door highlights the intricate and beautifully crafted mechanisms of the safe. It was made by the L. Duvilers company, which was considered a leader in the field of lock mechanics, and won many medals at international exhibitions in the mid-19th century. This product represents the firm's incredible heritage in safe manufacturing, combining sophisticated mechanisms, highly durable materials, outstanding craftsmanship and original design.

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