Iver Johnson 38 cal. revolver

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by openarms, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. openarms

    openarms New Member

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    Location:
    Tucson, AZ, formally 35 years in CT
    I have been gifted a wide variety of firearms, including two Iver Johnson 5-shot revolvers. The 32.cal small frame pocket pistol has been well described on this site. The pistol in question is a larger frame top-break, five-chamber, .38 cal, stamped along the top barrel with: Iver Johnson Arms & Cylce Works, and stamped on the bottom of the trigger guard number 78239.

    The blueing is excellent with perfect condition "western" walnut grips.

    There is slight wear on the barrel nose suggesting it had been hosltered, but otherwise in near perfect condition.

    Is this a black power cartridge pistol, or will it handle current powder and at what grain? Many thanks and very happy to be aboard.

    -openarms
  2. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    Hi openarms.....welcome to TFF. :)

    Keep checking back. Our resident expert on Iver Johnsons, Bill Goforth (he literally wrote the book on em: http://www.gunshowbooks.com/cgi-bin/webc.exe/st_prod.html?p_prodid=GS37205&sid=9X4vr2zN ), should be along shortly to tell you all you'd like to know about your IJ.

    Whereabouts in Connecticut are you from? I'm a former Nutmegger, myself. East Hartford (EHHS, class of '53) & Colchester.....Xracer



    *Shameless Plug*
    Books by Bill Goforth:
    Iver Johnson's Arms & Cycle Works 1871-1993
    H&R Arms Company 1871-1986 (due fall of 2008)
    available from www.gunshowbooks.com
  3. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    the oversize "western walnut" grips were only offered on the third model safety automatic revolver manufactured between 1909 and 1941. the main serial number location is on the left side of the grip frame under the grips (must remove the grips to see) this is where any letter codes will be found.

    on the early production of the third model the western walnut grips were considered a special order and these serial numbers will not have a letter code. the number simply mean it was that number equiped these these grips, however i have not seen a special order number as high as 7,839. therefore this revolver was most likely manufactured after this practice was stopped in about 1921. it is my guess your revolver will have the letter code H with the serial number found on the left side of the grip frame. serial number H78239 was manufactured in 1928, there were 3,700 of this model manufactured that year.

    all third model safety automatic revolver were manufactured for smokeless powder cartridge pressures.
    bill
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  4. will r

    will r New Member

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    looking to purchase western revolver in 22lr or 38.Need not be antique or collectable.
  5. ehughes

    ehughes New Member

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    will r, you might have better luck with a wtb in the buy/sell/trade area
  6. Big J

    Big J New Member

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    I recieved an iver johnson hand gun from my grandmother and she knows nothing about it, it is a five shot center break and the #s on the triger guard are 39038 can anyone tell me any thing about this pistol
  7. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    BIGJ
    INFORMATION NEEDED TO IDENTIFY
    IVER JOHNSON’S ARMS & CYCLE WORKS SAFETY AUTOMATIC REVOLVERS

    1. EXACT MARKINGS;
    A. TOP OF BARREL
    B. LEFT SIDE OF BARREL
    C. BOTTOM OF BUTT STRAP

    2. SERIAL NUMBER FOUND ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE GRIP STRAP UNDER THE GRIP PANEL (MAIN LOCATION SINCE 1896). THE SERIAL NUMBER FOUND ON THE BOTTOM OF THE TRIGGER GUARD WAS ONLY USED AFTER 1904 AND SINCE TRIGGER GUARDS ARE INTERCHANGABLE AND THIS LOCATION DOES NOT HAVE THE LETTER CODE IT CANNOT BE USED FOR PROPER ADINTIFICATION

    3. BARREL LENGTH;
    A. STANDARD BARREL LENGTH FOR LARGE FRAME IS 3 ¼ INCHES
    B. STANDARD BARREL LENGTH FOR SMALL FRAME IS 3 INCHES

    4. HAMMER SPRING
    A. FIRST AND SECOND MODELS SINGLE FLAT LEAF
    BLACK POWDER MODELS
    B. THIRD MODEL CAPTIVE COIL
    SMOKELESS POWDER

    CALIBERS:
    A. FIRST MODEL LARGE FRAME HAMMER OR HAMMERLESS 38 S&W (5)
    FIRST MODEL SMALL FRAME HAMMER 22 RIMFIRE, 32 S&W (5)
    FIRST MODEL SMALL FRAME HAMMERLESS 32 S&W (5)
    B. SECOND MODEL LARGE FRAME HAMMER OR HAMMERLESS 38 S&W (5)
    SECOND MODEL SMALL FRAME HAMMER 22 RIMFIRE (7), 32 S&W (5)
    SECOND MODEL SMALL FRAME HAMMERLESS 32 S&W (5)
    C. THIRD MODEL LARGE FRAME HAMMER OR HAMMERLESS
    32 S&W LONG (6) AND 38 S&W (5)
    THIRD MODEL SMALL FRAME HAMMER OR HAMMERLESS
    22 RIMFIRE (7), 32 S&W (5)

    bill
  8. jbradford1

    jbradford1 New Member

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    B.GOFORTH...I have a iver johnsons...I believe to be .38 five shot top break revolver.
    barrel length - 3" from cylinder face and 4.5" from rear of cylinder..so i guess 3"?
    Top of barrel = Iver Johnson Arms & cycle works..Fitchburg Mass. USA.
    Serial # on bottom of trigger guard 16687 and under the "Western" grip(?), C16687.
    Single flat leaf hammer spring..
    Good shape...no rust or pitting..just old nickle silver???
    Any info on it?
    Thanks ...JB1
  9. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    a length of 4 1/2 inches from rear of cylinder to muzzle would make this a large frame with 3 1/4 inch barrel length. the C letter code was used on the large frame second model in;
    1896 and 1897 but these years have patents dates on the top of the barrel
    1900 and 1901 these years have patent dates on the left side of barrel or the bottom of the butt.

    C letter code also was used on the third model between 1909 and 1917

    a single flat leaf hammer spring would make this a second model and no patent dates on the barrel top rib would indicate the years 1900 or 1901 but the serial numer on the bottom of the trigger guard was not added until 1904. could the C possibly be a badly stamped Q (Q was used in 1906)

    a picture of the left side of the grip frame showing serial number as well as what are the markings on the bottom of the butt or left side of the barrel. and what is the serial number found on the bottom of the top strap above the cylinder

    too many variables that do not fit the norm to say what this is at the moment. like the one piece "western walnut" grip was only offered on the third model.
    bill
  10. jbradford1

    jbradford1 New Member

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  11. Buckshot

    Buckshot Active Member

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    ...and welcome to Tucson, Open. After 35 years in CT, boy are you in for a culture shock. Questions? Send me a private msg.

    Buckshot
  12. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    sorry but my old operating system would not down load your pictures can you post them here.
    bill
  13. radanielaz

    radanielaz New Member

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    I have an Iver Johnson 38 cal. break-away revolver that I inherited from my great grandfather. It's not a .38 special, it's something shorter.

    On top of the barrel it says :
    IVER JOHNSON'S ARMS & CYCLE WORKS X
    FITCHBURG MASS. USA

    There are no markings on the side of the barrel.
    On the bottom of the trigger guard the serial number is 43802
    The grips are black rubber. Under the left grip the serial number is C43802
    The trigger spring is a coil type

    On the butt strap it says:
    AT. JUNE 16.96. AUG. 25 (UNREADABLE MARKING)
    PT. 6.04-PATS PEND(UNREADABLE MARKINGS)

    Can anybody tell me when this was manufactured?
  14. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    the three patent dates you list were used between 1907 and 1911 on the safety automatic revolver. yours is third model 38 S&W safety automatic hammer revolver third model. serial number C43802 was manufactured in 1911, there were 26,600 manufactured that year.

    THIRD MODEL SAFETY AUTOMATIC HAMMER REVOLVER
    (Smokeless Powder Cartridges)--------------------1909-1941
    LARGE FRAME AND SMALL FRAME VERSIONS USES HAMMER THE HAMMER ACTION: Double top post barrel latch with Hammer the Hammer action. This model redesigned to be strong enough for smokeless powder. All coil springs, hard rubber grip panels with Owls head at top, optional oversize grips of hard rubber or wood were offered. Two frame sizes, four calibers, Standard barrel length: small frame 3 inches, large frame 3 ¼ inches. Calibers: small frame .22 rimfire 7 rounds cylinder capacity, .32 centerfire 5 rounds cylinder capacity, large frame .32 Special centerfire with 6 rounds cylinder capacity, .38 centerfire with 5 rounds cylinder capacity; Weight: small frame .22 rimfire with 3 inch barrel 13 ounces, .32 centerfire with 3 inch barrel 13 ½ ounces, large frame with 3 ¼ inch barrel .32 Special 19 ounces, .38 centerfire with 3 ¼ inch barrel 18 ¼ inches; Height: small frame 3 ¾ inches, large frame 3 7/8 inches; Frame length: small frame 4 3/16 inches, large frame 5 inches; Overall length: small frame with 3 inch barrel 6 3/8 inches, large frame with 3 ¼ inch barrel 7 3/8 inches. Main serial number location on left side of grip frame grips must be removed to see. The Third Model features a double top post barrel latch, coil hammer spring and four cross pins in the lower frame.
    VALUE: 100%=$250 60%=$115

    bill
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
  15. bgriff

    bgriff New Member

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    Dec 18, 2009
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    Bill, I'm seeking confirmation or pinpointing probably manufacture Iver Johnson. your answers to other posts I believe the piece I have is 2nd model 38 revolver from about 1902. Characteristics: Breakaway hammerless, 3 1/4" barrel, 5 shot. Markings on top of barrell: Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works Fitchburg, Mass. USA.
    2nd line.. first marks not legible, about 3 or 4 characters lone. Apr. 6 86, Feb 15 87, May 10 87, Mar 15 88 Aug 25 96 pats pending.
    Discernible numbers under grip cover.
    XX4839 After seeing your responses I could be talked into seeing it as X94839, but I'm really not sure. The first two characters appear to have been worn off.
    On bottom element of grip appear numbers 3092.
    Gun was in possession of wife's great grandmother who was born in 1880 and died in about 1956. I believe she had it presumably on the basis of personal security. There is a box of shells that has been handed from one to another for over 50 years. To the best of my knowledge the bullets are modern, but I'm not sure. Four of them have W.RA on the top and 38 S&W on the bottom. Four others have R-P on top, and 38 S&W on bottom. The pistol is worn. The barrell is in good condition, but the basic piece above the grip, and the trigger assembly are quite worn/trnished.

    Any information you could provide about its likely date of manufacture, and what the shells are, would be helpful. Should I just have it refinished and set aside, or is it anything to preserve?
    Thanks,
    Bob
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