Vanderman Mfg. Company - Maker - Willimantic, Conn.
A very nice American made strongbox from around 1900. Made by the Vanderman Manufacturing
Company out of Willimantic, Connecticut and typically used to carry anything from industrial tools
to gold, to company payrolls, often by train but stagecoaches and wagons as well. Some debate
exists whether Wells, Fargo, & Company ever used these. Some experts say no, my guess is on
occasion, but they did have their own favored strong box and I will leave it at that.
This particular example measures 44.5"L X 23"H X 23.5"W and is constructed of solid steel with
thick oak slats and heavy steel hardware all riveted to the steel frame. Around this strongbox are 6
metal handles. If you plan on packing around a bunch of gold bullion, you might find this handy. I
have not thrown it on a scale but expect it to be in the 140-150lb range give or take and it will ship
freight in the contiguous USA for the asking price.
Other than being steel, security was handled by metal rods which would have fit through the holes
in the front hardware pieces. A couple of railroad type locks were probably used to prevent the rods
from being removed. The rods are not present and missing from about all others I have seen in the
past as well. Additionally, a large hasp was present on the front to accept a padlock. Part of the
hasp and ring were missing on this one when found and a combination of old and new worked to
produce what is shown. I probably have a replica padlock around here I can throw on but it is the
sort of piece I would urge the buyer to take their time and find the perfect antique padlock. There
were some very neat ones made over the years.
The metal itself is extremely sound and no repairs were needed or will be needed this century or the
next. Fine shape is what I am saying. Some repairs were made to the oak bumpers but nothing
overly distracting. The metal was cleaned up, primed, and given several coats of fresh paint. The
inside was simply painted black as it appeared it originally was.
These Vanderman strongboxes were working boxes out on the rail and cart. Most had pretty tough
lives over the years. I am happy we were able to keep this one away from the metal recycle place,
make useful again, and believe it will continue its trend of being a difficult find and nice railroad
Would be a wonderful piece to have stenciled such as on the front and/or the inside lid. I have seen
Wells, Fargo & Co. Express put on them but anything rail road, ship, town, old business, or even
your business today would be nice for prosperity.
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