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The History of the Modern Safe

Through the ages, humankind has sought to protect their possessions from the terror of fire. The Egyptians buried their scrolls deep in the pyramids. The Assyrians buried duplicates of important documents at separate locations. The Greeks carved their important records on ivory slabs.

When no record material proved suitable for protection against the destruction by fire, they turned their talents to the development of protective devices to house records. Julius Caesar filed his records in strong, iron boxes but found that the metal readily conducted the heat of a fire. Feudal lords build underground vaults and stationed trusted guards for their protection. Merchants of the 15th Century developed the treasure chest of pirate story fame, made of oak and banded with iron.

After 1830 came the iron “safes” with inner walls of stone, plaster, wood, cement, brick, asbestos, mica, alum, chalk, clay, or simply dead-air space.

The first standardized tests for the adequacy of safe protection were not made until 1917. These tests caused radical changes in safe construction because they proved many of the old theories of protection to be false. Safe equipment today, thanks to technological progress and thorough testing, can provide modern business with record protection like never before known in the history of civilization.