Date my Iver Johnson breaktop revolver

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Bryan@IndianaLead, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. Bryan@IndianaLead

    Bryan@IndianaLead New Member

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    I recently found an old Iver Johnson breaktop revolver & I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what model it is & when it was made. I doubt it's worth anything, but I'd still like to date it & get an idea of whether it's safe to shoot or worth restoring (after having a gunsmith look it over of course).

    Specs:
    * 5 shot breaktop double-action revolver (not sure if it's .32 or .38)
    * looks like about a 4" barrell (sorry, didn't have a ruler handy)
    * chrome finish
    * visible hammer
    * double-post latch on breaktop
    * hard black rubber grips with owl head logo (owl is upright in line with grip, not
    canted toward barrel like some of the earliest versions)
    * Barrel top edge stamp: IVER JOHNSON'S ARMS & CYCLE WORKS
    ----FITCHBURG MASS, USA----
    * Butt bottom of frame stamp: PAT'D JUNE 16.96 AUG 25.96
    SEPT 6.04 PATS PENDING
    * Serial number on bottom of trigger guard: 6944
    * Serial number beneath left side grip: C6944

    Can anyone ID the date on this one? I couldn't find any online references that matched it. Also, I've heard these called "suicide specials" because of haphazard mfg & a tendency toward blowups - is that something to be concerned about?
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
  2. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum Bryan.

    Your details identify a third model large frame made in 1909, the first year improvements were made for smokeless powder ammo. Caliber is .38 S&W, which is not the same as .38 Special.

    If mechanically OK, it's safe for use with current .38 S&W cartridges.
  3. Bryan@IndianaLead

    Bryan@IndianaLead New Member

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    Great! That's good news. I had just about dispaired of ever identifying this little bit of attic flotsam. Thanks for the help.
  4. Bryan@IndianaLead

    Bryan@IndianaLead New Member

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    hrf: Do your references indicate how large the 1909 production was - how many of these were turned out that year? just curious.
  5. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    8900
  6. Bryan@IndianaLead

    Bryan@IndianaLead New Member

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    Wow! That's a much smaller production than I expected. Thanks again for your help.
  7. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    The term " Suicide Special " has been over played. Iver Johnson made very good inexpensive utility type revolvers. They were in use as a " Every Mans " firearm for close to a hundred years. They were used by Guards, police, and for personal protection by millions of people. In no stretch of the imagination can they be placed in the same category as the very cheap suicide specials. FWIW, the term came from the 1930s era, a suicide special was used for only one shot, hence it didn't have to be a expensive gun, not because it would blow up in your hand. JMHO. 8,900 of your model was made in 1909.
  8. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    It was probably because of manufacturing and materials changes implemented that year, as 27000 were made in 1910,
  9. dragonfly57

    dragonfly57 New Member

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    I have an Iver Johnson .22 Supershot 7 shot revolver ( model 70 ) with serial number K2172 and I'm wondering if anyone can tell me the year it was manufactured.
  10. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    One of 3900 made in 1928, the year introduced.
  11. Slowhand

    Slowhand Member

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    Neatly done...
  12. dragonfly57

    dragonfly57 New Member

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    Thanks for the info. I suspected it was made in 1928, but I wasn't absolutely sure.
  13. Rmasters3

    Rmasters3 New Member

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    Serial number 60259 on trigger guard, but under left grip the serial number is prefaced with a "D". Best I have determined is this is an IJ Safety Hammerless in 38 S&W, & a 6" barrel. Looks better than the pictures, actually, and I see no reason it won't shoot as it's very clean and apparently in good shape. Bore is shiney and smooth.
  14. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    It appears to be a second variation, 3rd Model, made in 1913.
  15. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    The Goforth book indicates 1914
  16. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    You're probably right, my eyes are as old as I am. He did post his serial number was D60259, the way I read Bill's book, D54101 through D60800 was used in 1913, 1914 used D60801 through D61700, am I researching the wrong gun??
  17. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    I see the source of confusion: You used the chart on page 49 and I used one on page 62 which lists D54001-D60000 for 1913, D60001-D61700 for 1914.

    The 8's on page 49 chart may be typos, as I note he listed a very high total production of 6800 for 1913 and then way down to 900 for 1914.
  18. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Bill's book is a fantastic source of information of Iver Johnson, but is not the easiest book to research, lets split the difference 1913/1914, that way one of us will be in the ball park.:)
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