Iver Johnson


October 5, 2011, 08:22 PM
While pulling down an old ceiling in my house I was whacked in the head with a plastic wrapped hundred year old cardboard soap box. Inside the box was a perfectly preserved Iver Johnson Top Break 5 shot 32 cal. pistol. The Nickle finish is in excellent condition. The pristine grips contain an image of an owl looking toward the barrel. It has a single latch to break the barrel and the cylinder revolves freely when at rest. I have done some research and found the serial # under the grip. The serial # is 105XX, and is not precluded by any letter. On top of the barrel it is inscribed with IVER JOHNSON & Co, Fitchburg Mass. USA Pat'd May 10, 87 Dec 26, 93 Pat's Pending. It seems to be DAO.
Can anyone shed some light as to this being a First Model and if so is it indeed DAO or is something amiss? Along with the revolver was a box of ols Winchester Ammo 32 sw. Is this a black powder load? Thanks for all your anticipated help

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October 5, 2011, 08:57 PM
Hello emangini and welcome to the forum.
That is quite a find. Photos would aid in answering your queries.

October 5, 2011, 08:57 PM
You lucky sucker. Keep after the ceiling. Maybe a winchester model 52 will fall down. You may want to get a hardhat. I wish my house would rain down old cool guns. Who knows, maybe ther is an original Henry lever action up there somewhere. An iron framed model. Plus a case of ammo.

Oh yeah, without pictures it didn't happen.

I am happy for you. What a find. I know nothing about that gun but color me green with envy.:D

October 5, 2011, 10:30 PM
I would say that the rounds are probably loaded with black powder, the only strange thing is the marking, Usually they say "IVER JOHNSON CYCLE WORKS" on the early ones. These were what they called bicycle guns designed to be carried by cyclists to shoot stray dogs should they attack. Most likely the ammo is no good anymore, in most cases black powder ammo corroded the primers on the rounds after a few years. It that is a hammerless version then it is DAO there were some DA/SA models made with hammers just depends on what you have.

Ron James
October 5, 2011, 11:07 PM
The Iver Johnson Bicycle Guns were a specific short barrel model, made to be easily carried on a bicycle. The Belgium 5.5MM Velo dog is the gun designed for stray dogs:). Hello emangini, pictures will be necessary to properly identify your handgun. Right now the location of the markings, the patent numbers and the serial numbers point toward a First Model Hammerless, Version of 1894 and 1895. If so it was made for black powder cartridges. Iver Johnson did not go to smokeless frame until 1909. However only a good clear picture can confirm this for yea or nay. Iver Johnson made millions of handguns, At one time they were one of the largest manufactures of handguns in the U.S.. Your firearm was designed for black powder, however the Iver Johnson revolvers were well designed and strong firearms. I know of those who fire the .32 S&W short in these old guns with no ill effect. Now that is only for occasional use just to be firing an old gun. Continued use of smokeless shells will not blow it up, but it will " shoot it loose ". I wont say yes or no, but I have shot mine a number of times with no ill effects. The .32 S&W short. is a very low pressure cartridge. Can you get back to us with pictures?

October 6, 2011, 05:31 AM
Wish I could say the same.

Cleared out a rental house for my grandmother in law where I found hidden firearms under the stairway...all I got was an old over and under .22/.410 combo completely covered in rust and had to use a rod to knock all the rust out of the barrel just to get it in firing condition and a .22 bolt action that was so rusted that the bolt had to be tapped open with a hammer just to see down the barrel...which also turned out to contain so much rust that I had to give it the same treatment as the over and under.

Eventually got both working but the .22 over and under had a gap in the ejector which left a sliver of .22 brass in my left arm less than an eighth of an inch from the vein so I guess it'll stay there indefinately. :(

October 6, 2011, 08:10 AM
>>On top of the barrel it is inscribed with IVER JOHNSON & Co, Fitchburg Mass.<<

Back when I drove tractor/trailer in the early 60's, that was one of my pick-up spots. Ah, those were the days! :)

October 6, 2011, 08:44 AM
Thank you all for your help so far. Yes, my gun is inscribed as I have indicated. No mention of Cycle Works. Also I failed to mention that this is not hammerless. It does have a hammer yet seems to be DAO. I will get some pics out as soon as my wife teaches me how to do that.

October 6, 2011, 11:03 AM
That's a neat find. Not especially valuable, but they're cool old guns.

It's my experience that they hold up just fine with light smokeless loads, like those from Remington and Magtech. I love my little IJ .32:


Bought as a very rough 4" model for $60, I had a lot of work to do. But it turned out nice, IMO.

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