Spacious on the inside and impregnable from the outside, the safe was solid and weighty – a real monster of a box. Indeed, opening its thick metal door would take some serious work. But when a safe cracker who goes by the name of “unkapier” did finally gain to access to its interior, he was richly rewarded.
“I’m a locksmith,” wrote unkapier in 2014 on the image-sharing website Imgur. “Got to open this safe today,” he added as he shared photos of his exploit. And what a safe it was. Now defunct, the Mosler Safe Company used to manufacture boxes and bank vaults from 1874 to the turn of the 21st century.
In fact, Mosler vaults were renowned for their impenetrability. For example, during the Second World War Mosler vaults installed in Mitsui Bank in Hiroshima, Japan, even survived the atomic bomb. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.
Indeed, after the war Mosler’s reputation earned it numerous high-profile contracts. Working for the U.S. government, the company manufactured doors for missile silos and other security features. The company even built the vault once used to display the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
Curiously, the masterwork behind the vault technology was a 138-ton blast door. Installed at the Atomic Energy Commission’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, it was considered the largest and heaviest door of its type in the world. And yet it could be manually opened by just one person. Kudos.
Clearly, the safe that unkapier had been contracted to work on wasn’t quite as heavy duty. However, the mark of Mosler likely meant that he had his work cut out. And so gathering his tools, he began the laborious task of penetrating the vault’s door. First, he set to work on the solid brass combination dial.
So far so good; unkapier managed to open the door with minimal fuss. However, quite how he did it remains a mystery. Though, we can guess as there are many methods for opening a locked safe. Options include, for example, weak-point drilling and brute force. However, the ease with which he got inside suggests that he may have worked out the combination.
Such a feat isn’t as extraordinary as it sounds. Many safe owners, after all, never change their manufacturer-set combination. Of course, this makes the vault more vulnerable, as anyone could, in theory, look up the combination. All that is needed is the safe’s model number and manufacturer.
Intriguingly, and perhaps counterintuitively, unkapier began dismantling the safe after he got it open. Stripping away a red metal panel, he exposed the lock mechanisms embedded inside the door. Unlike cheap modern safes, which often rely on electronics, everything here looked sturdy and reliable.
Curiously, there were several numbers etched into the interior of the apparently cement-coated door. It is tempting to assume that the numbers refer to the try-out combination. Of course, with the door open, unkapier didn’t need them anymore.
Meanwhile, the lock mechanism itself consisted of two heavy-duty sliding bars. With those clenched in place, the box was surely impenetrable. Which begs the question, what exactly did this safe contain? And when was the last time anyone opened it?
Sadly, unkapier did not divulge any information about the safe’s previous owner. Exactly who they might have been, where they came from or how they happened to own the antique safe are details missing from his account. However, it is safe to say (no pun intended, ahem) that the box still contained a trove of precious possessions.
Unfortunately though, unkapier would not be able to lay his hands on them just yet. For beyond the main door was a second door, apparently locked and inaccessible. Furthermore, it was now clear that the safe’s volume was not as large as its exterior had suggested. Indeed, the walls were several inches thick.
Of course, unkapier is a professional and he got it open in no time. Behind the second door, several drawers appeared – a good place for jewelry, documents or other precious keepsakes. What a fantastic job he has, opening real-life treasure chests every day.
And naturally, for a locksmith such as unkapier, the locks themselves are precious treasure. Here, he has removed the brass lock from the inner door and photographed its workings for us to admire. Great stuff, but what about the loot? The safe did contain something of value, didn’t it?
Well, sadly, judging from this picture, there was nothing at all inside the safe. It seems that after all that hard work, the safe was vacant, hollow… nothing more than an intricately secured empty box. Just kidding. Actually, there was a lot of good stuff in there. Lots of valuable stuff.
For what could be more valuable than cold, hard cash? Roughly estimating, the safe seemed to contain a few hundred dollars, which is better than nothing. With luck, it might even have covered unkapier’s locksmith fees. And don’t forget the loose change – always handy.
Still, there was more to the story. On closer inspection, the bills themselves turned out to be quite interesting. Among them were stacks of very old $2 bills, considered the rarest domination in U.S. currency. They are legal tender and constitute around one percent of all notes in circulation.
Unfortunately, however, and despite their scarcity, $2 bills generally aren’t worth anything more than their face value. Still, with time, they may appreciate and one day become collectable. Perhaps until then, it would be best to keep them bills in a safe place.
Meanwhile, with the box opened and its contents removed, our story comes to an end. Many thanks to unkapier for giving us a close-up glimpse of the inner workings of a Mosler safe. All in a day’s work!