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I first became interested in locks and Houdini over 40 years ago. I read every book I could find on locks and locksmiths, Houdini and magic, and the desire grew to conquer the opening of locked objects, whether they be padlocks, any locked door or box, handcuffs, or the ultimate: safes. So I naturally starting buying padlocks and would take them apart to see how they were made and how to defeat them. I made homemade picks out of bent wire and picked open locks. I learned how to rap open certain locks and bypass door bolts with shims. An then I moved on to safes. The thrill of buying my first safe - with lawn cutting money - is still very vivid today. That safe - a Hall's with impressive pin striping, nickel plated dial and handle, unique hinge acorns, and even the original factory papers with its first factory combination - is proudly displayed in my office today.
There are a lot of categories of objects in my collection. There are a lot of unique collection categories, such as just collecting safe lock bodies, or dials and rings, or timelocks, or hinge acorns, or the nameplates of the safe manufacture, or the inner door panels with the extremely attractive decals and labels. The list goes on and on, and this is just the individual parts from the safes! If space permits, then go out and find and haul home the entire safe for your collection. Your wife will love you for this!!
In this photo, you can see what is probably the easiest item to collect: safe banks. Safe banks are the most plentiful, right behind padlocks, at antique shops and flea markets. Most safe banks are going for under $25 to an average of about $250. I have some in my collection that I paid almost $1,000 to own. The same safe bank I collected, brought in at a recent auction over $4,500.
But when I originally bought them for a couple hundred dollars, I did so with the knowledge that I liked what I was buying, and while the price may or may not have been a good deal at that time, if I held on to the safe bank long enough, then the value would increase and the enjoyment of ownership over the years would have made the initial purchase sacrifice all that much easier to swallow. Regardless of the increase of value, the pure fascination of watching the public view my collection is worth the effort to find new and different safe bank variations.
I display the majority of my collection in glass antique locked showcases, and some on the walls, and a large selection on custom-made open oak bookcases in my private office.
I hope, think and pray that I will always respect the love of the hunt, the excitement of the find, and the joy of possessing a rare treasure. You too can let collecting be both fun and profitable. Just start today...
-- Ray C. Talton, CPS