There are certain objects I’m drawn to when I go out rummaging through antique stores, estates sales and the like.
I usually drag my husband and kiddos and dog along for the ride when we are on a road trip, sometimes they all wait in the car while I head in to explore but many times they all come along and dig right there with me. It is a tradition from my own childhood that I remember from the long car rides up to North Carolina each summer, stopping along the way at any place that looked interesting and full of treasures.
Vintage safes are hard to come by these days so when we find one we always stop to take a peek. My husband may actually be more into them than me, and I love his passion for hunting these treasures. We found our first safe in a now obsolete antique mall in Thomasville, Georgia, where a city where find many of our treasures during our travels. The shop owner told us it had been there awhile and that he still had the working combination so we could actually get inside. This size safe was perfect for a personal collection, something one could keep in their home or small shop and stash some of their valuable possessions. We love them for their size as they make a perfect end table, and a great conversation piece.
Our first safe is inscribed with the safe makers name, and Birmingham, ALA on the front. A dark, worn black color with gold decorative details. It is heavy as can be, 500 lbs or so if I had to guess and we often worried about it going right through the floor of our old 1940’s home so it didn’t get moved very often. When we brought it home for the first time we opened it up with the shopkeepers combination to find a special treasure inside. An old land deed from a plot somewhere in very rural South Georgia, complete with a large leather medallion attached. I wondered how long it had been since anyone had actually been inside. I have always been glad we snagged this first safe, mostly because my husband couldn’t find a way to get the enormous wall safe that was built into the building out. A crane and wrecking ball was the only solution the shopkeeper had offered us at the time, though he wasn’t keen on that idea himself.
Our second safe now sits in our Keeping Room, and ironically also came from Thomasville from another of my favorite shops. My best friend called to tell me she had spotted it there, knowing our fondness for them but also because it featured the location of “Monticello” on the front. Now this particular one was from Monticello, Florida, not far from my hometown of Tallahassee, but since our family farm is in Monticello, Georgia we had an instant connection to this special piece and knew at once we had to have it.
One of my favorite features of these beautiful pieces are their interiors, which are often very decorative and colorful, with lots of little drawers and shelves. Many of them have hand-painted numbers and letters, some marking the last time the safe was inspected. It’s a shame we can’t keep them open all the time to enjoy the decorative interior, but the many little hands and fingers in our house prevent us from doing so - and I’m sure have saved a slammed finger or two for that very reason.
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