Rare Antique Cannonball Safe

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  • Item Category: -
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Feb 27,2008
  • Channel: Online Auction

Antique Manganese Cannonball Safe

Fully Functional



This very rare antique "Cannonball Safe" was built in the 1890's by the "New York Manganese Steel Safe Company" of New York , New York , and then sold to J.J. Deright and Co., General Agents of Omaha , Nebraska and Kansas City , Missouri . J.J. Deright and Co. was one of the distributors for the New York Manganese Safe Company during this period of time, and they sold safes to banks in the Midwest . This particular safe was sold to the First National Bank of Kansas , for their bank in Plainville , Kansas . During the late 1800's and early 1900's these Cannonball Safes took five years to manufacture, and they cost approximately $5,000.00 dollars. The banks would pay for the safes in advance, and wait for them to be manufactured and delivered. This safe sat in the First National Bank in Plainville , Kansas until sometime in the late 1930's, or early 1940's at which time it was sold to a private party. This safe then sat in a barn in Kansas for the last 60+ years, until I found it and restored it to its original beauty.

Cannonball Safes were manufactured from 1890 to 1920, and they get their name from the shape of the round security compartment that is mounted on the fluted base.

The 3,645 pound weight of these safes, and the rounded corners kept them from being taken during an attempted robbery. In addition, these safes were impossible to blow up with dynamite, or even nitro glycerin because of the shape of the rounded 435 pound safe door, and the fact that you cannot even get a 1/1000 of an inch locksmith shim between the safe door and the safe body.

This safe stands 48" high, 30" wide, and 24" deep, and has a total weight of 3,645 pounds. The safe door and armature weight 435 pounds. The safe comes with the two original clock keys, one original bolt crank, one original vault door crank, and one original door pull handle. All handles and cranks are Nickel Plated to perfection. If requested, I can arrange the shipping and the transportation of this safe to any destination in the United States . Purchase price does not include shipping and handling to the final destination.

In the 1890's, these safes were advertised as being "Absolutely Robber Proof". Back in the days of Jesse James, Cole Younger and the Dalton Gangs, it was a common practice to kidnap the bank manager during the night, take him to the bank, and have him open the safe. Once these Cannonball Safes were in common use for many banks on the frontier, and the word spread that they could not be opened during daylight hours due to the time clocks, the night time practice of capturing the bank managers ended. It was a Cannonball Safe similar to this one that kept the Jessie James and Cole Younger Gang from successfully completing the robbery of the First National Bank of Northfield , Minnesota . On that day, "Members of the Jessie James Gang argued with the banks acting cashier James Heywood, who refused to open the safe, claiming that it was still on "Time Lock". This was actually not true, but the gang members believed him (but they also killed him for it), and because of this, they were not able to abscond with over $12,000.00 dollars that was in that Cannonball safe. The gang stole only $26.70 that day, and many of them lost their lives in the attempt.

An interesting note on the remodel of this safe is that one of the members of the Dalton family "Nathan Dalton" of Flagstaff Arizona was the locksmith that actually opened this safe when I purchased it. In the late 1880's and early 1890's, the Daltons were bank and train robbers. Nathan Dalton is a great, great, great grandson of Emmet Dalton, one of the Dalton Gang Members. "Emmet Dalton" was the only surviving member of the Dalton gang after their attempted robbery of the First National Bank of Kansas and C.M. Condon & Company's Bank in Coffeeville Kansas . The Dalton Gangs bank and train robbing careers ended on October 5 th 1892, when they att...