Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle works (production date?)

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Bart321, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. Bart321

    Bart321 Member

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    38 S&W BP.jpg I just bought an (formerly blued) Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle works .38 S&W with a 5" barrel. The owl is looking at the trigger. Under the grips are what I believe "I 644xx" serial numbers with a solid mainspring (see picture). It's a duel post Top Break (see picture) and I believe a second generation model. I believe its a black powder only model but what I really want is the Production Year? 1896 (2).jpg
    ser (2)_LI.jpg
    serial_LI (2).jpg
     
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  2. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    From Wiki,
    Not a lot of Info out there on serial # dates.


    Safety automatic[edit]

    Standard models with external hammer:

    • First Model (1894–1895), single post latch system
    • Second Model (1896–1908), double post latch system
    • Third Model (1909–1941), double post latch system, adapted for smokeless powder
    220px-Iverwiki.jpg
    Iver Johnson Safety Automatic "New Model" Mid 20th century Calibers .22/.32 Long/ .38 S&W. This variation with the pictured "Western" grips was catalogued in the 1940 Shooter's Bible.
    Safety automatic hammerless[edit]
    • First Model (1895–1896), single post latch
    • Second Model (1897–1908), safety lever added to face of trigger
    • Third Model a.k.a. New Model (1909–1941), no safety lever on trigger, adapted for smokeless powder
     
  3. Col. Harrumph

    Col. Harrumph Member

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    I don't have his Book handy but in it, Mr. Goforth noted that IJ had the bad habit of starting s/n's over at 1, once they reached 10000. So it may difficult to pin the exact year.
     
  4. Bart321

    Bart321 Member

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    Col Harrumph,
    If you look at the serial number in the mainspring picture you can see the stamp looks more like a capital "I" (EYE), also the number stamps are all very clearly numbers.
     
  5. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    I think every time they hit 10,000 they advanced one letter in the alphabet. That still doesn't help us with the date of manufacture. It is what it is.
     
  6. Bart321

    Bart321 Member

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    Topbreaks (Safety Hammer) .38 cal. S&W large frame
    The owl is looking to the barrel; the cylinder is freewheeling when at rest, for Black Powder cartridges

    Model 2, Second Model, third variation, Double top latch, 200'000 items were manufactured from 1899 - 1901, serial number with C or I letter prefix, marked on the top of the barrel rib IVER JOHNSON'S ARMS & CYCLE WORKS
    ------FITCHBURG. MASS.U.S.A.------and on the butt of the grip (frame) PAT'D.APR.6.86.FEB.15.87.MAY 10.87.
    MAR.13.88.AUG.25.96 PAT'S PENDING
     
  7. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    I cannot tell you when it was made, but I can tell you it is absolutely a Black Powder model.

    The tell tale signs of a Black Powder Iver Johnson are the hammer spring is a leaf spring, as yours have, the little owl faces forward, not always reliable in case the grips were changed, and the locking slots on the cylinder function differently.

    This is a Smokeless era Iver Johnson. Notice the difference in the shape of the cylinder locking slots from yours. There are two hard surfaces to trap the bolt in either direction. On yours, the bolt only stops the cylinder from advancing, the hand stops it from rolling back.

    pnYHFfasj.jpg




    Sometime around the Turn of the Century (1900) Iver Johnson completely redesigned their revolver line, incorporating these changes and also using better steel for the pressures generated by Smokeless powder. If I were to remove the grips from this one, with their backward facing owl, we would see the hammer spring is a coil spring, not a leaf spring as in yours.
     
  8. Monac

    Monac Member

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    You have a Second Model 38 S&W Iver Johnson Safety Revolver, Bart321. As per tightgroup tiger's post, those had the conventional top latch, unlike the First Model, but a flat-spring mainspring, unlike the Third Model, which had a coil mainspring, as per Driftwood Johnson's post. The Second Model is far and away the most common, and I believe all of them were made to black powder ammunition standards.

    The patent date stampings you give can narrow down the date of manufacture somewhat, I think, if someone has Bill Goforth's book on IJ revolvers. I don't have it here.
     
  9. the Black Spot

    the Black Spot Member

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    What is the going price for one in that condition?
    Saw exact one at pawn shop, nickel version. Wanted $175 out the door
     
  10. Rubone

    Rubone Member

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    Mine is a first model from 1895, serial# 81492, no letters. No help for you on value, mine was free. My grips are the later style, changed somewhere along the line..
    DCP_4438.JPG
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
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  11. Col. Harrumph

    Col. Harrumph Member

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    Bart, the late Mr. Goforth says (pp. 42,43) you have a Large Frame 2nd Model Hammer revolver, minted in 1903. The patent dates' placement on the bottom of the grip strap identify it as a 6th variation type. And yes it's for black powder... although a cylinder or two of off-the-shelf ammo isn't likely to do any harm, but extended use of modern ammo will loosen the latch. That's the conventional wisdom anyway... but if you were a conventional guy you wouldn't be on THR, would you. :cool:
     
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  12. orpington

    orpington Member

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    I purchased one like that one, but blued, in 2013, for $100. For the "neatness" factor, but they surely aren't worth much more than that. Maybe $125 to $140 if you wanted it badly enough.

    Also, what can you get for $100 (or at least less than $150) these days?

    EDIT: I was referring to the revolver the same as Driftwood Johnson's, not the OP's. In any event, maybe Driftwood Johnson wishes to comment on his, as it is the same as mine. Although, IIRC, mine has the owl head facing forwards, so it is pre-1899, although I annotated in my records that these were produced (menaing mine and Driftwood Johnson's) 1896 to 1908, which may or may not be correct.
     
  13. the Black Spot

    the Black Spot Member

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    image.jpeg The one i am looking at is a blackpowder 2nd model with the double latch. Not as nice as DJ's but its not bad. I was thinking of offering $160 out the door. The condition is similar to this one.
     
  14. vintovka

    vintovka Member

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    Value? Thanks to current politics/pandemic the value of any pistol that even appears to function has gone thru roof and into ionosphere. Even collector grade ammo is being sold for use with them as well. Recent sales of legitimate "antique, no ffl" Wall hangers ones are bringing high prices. I think many are buying for immediate resale as well.
     
  15. orpington

    orpington Member

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    And here are photographs of my “$100 special”.
    4067FEE3-7500-46D8-95EA-893F9C874D54.jpeg 18110F06-9C7F-4BAF-BE0A-4A3467909742.jpeg 37CABDD1-2871-4AA7-BA0F-7927A58ECBA9.jpeg 88F1B5A2-9F38-4D38-899B-A6DBC0D73B7F.jpeg
     
  16. orpington

    orpington Member

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    In my photo of the base of the butt, there states that "PAT'S PENDING". I would assume that is for the safety lever added to the face of the trigger?

    This revolver appears to be a variation of the Smith and Wesson Safety Hammerless Model (a.k.a., Lemon Squeezer). Instead of compressing the backstrap allowing for the Lemon Squeezer to fire, instead, force is placed upon the nifty safety lever feature of this revolver, enabling it to fire.
     
  17. orpington

    orpington Member

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    Now I don’t know if this is a stock photograph or if this was the revolver that actually assassinated President McKinley, but it is identical to mine.

    https://chillopedia.com/the-guns-which-shot-us-presidents/

    Hold that thought. This one depicted has a hammer: https://www.historicalfirearms.info/post/46193380321/the-gun-that-killed-us-president-william-mckinley

    Bill Goforth stated the revolver used to assassinate McKinley was A63344.

    I am going to email the Buffalo History Museum to see if I can’t find out more.
     
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  18. orpington

    orpington Member

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    I received an e-mail from Walt Mayer, Senior Director of Museum Collections, at the Buffalo History Museum. He responded that the Iver Johnson revolver used to assassinate President McKinley has a hammer, serial number A 63344. Given the numbering system in place 1901 and before, it has to be 463344. It was given to the museum by Thomas Penney, Erie County District Attorney 1899 to 1902. I think the chain of custody, although not definitive, strongly suggests this really is the revolver that assassinated McKinley. I’m going to try and get photographs of it, as well as photographs of the serial number.

    By the way, the revolver used to assassinate President Garfield is out there somewhere. I’m not sure if it was properly identified by serial number, so it probably won’t ever surface again.
     
  19. Navy87Guy

    Navy87Guy Member

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    I was digging through some old pistols today that I inherited from my Grandfather. I finally took a closer look at one of them and it was the same Iver-Johnson break top. Although mine is in much worse shape!!
     
  20. vintovka

    vintovka Member

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    FWIW. LGS had a number of older IJs and S&Ws gathering dust for years. I sold him a couple boxes of vintage .32 and .38 about a week ago and he put them out with them. Now all sold at big $. Getting to be like real estate around here.
     
  21. damyankee425

    damyankee425 Member

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    133293033_2814982562081379_2810835792168710648_n.jpg my current family oldest to youngest. my grand father's Iver Johnson 32 6 round. my CZ 75 and my kids wanna be CZ.
     
  22. Eugen

    Eugen Member

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    This thread was very helpful in my identifying an inherited, smokeless powder variant of the hammerless model. Thanks for the help. 20210615_095410.jpg
     
  23. Monac

    Monac Member

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    Is that a 32 or a 38, Eugen? It's a fine photo, and I can tell it's a five shot, but I just can't tell the size. My feeling it that it's 32, but I wouldn't want to bet money on it.

    PS - Now that I have taken the trouble to compare it to the revolver in post #1, I would bet money on it being a 32. The cylinder on that one seems much bigger in proportion to the rest of the gun.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2021
  24. Eugen

    Eugen Member

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    Sorry I didn't mention the caliber earlier. It's a 38. You opened the door for my next question. Is it safe to shoot off-the-shelf 38 S&W factory ammo or is it advised to handload lighter charges? I don't own any other 38 S&W firearms.
     
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  25. Monac

    Monac Member

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    GIven that I was dead wrong about its being a 32, I am not going to risk your life by attempting to answer this question. I need to stop thinking I know anything about anything.
     
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