Iver Johnson Champion 12 ga.

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by DillHarris, Sep 1, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. DillHarris

    DillHarris New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Missouri
    Hello All,

    My father-in-law recently found an Iver Johnson Champion 12 gauge in the attic of his mother's house and sent it to me to fix up a little. I've done what reasearch I can and found several other posts here (thank you Mr. Goforth) very helpful. I was wondering if any of the following characteristics could narrow down a range of production dates. These are the points I think will be useful, if there are others I'm unaware of please let me know.

    -After knocking the rust off the finish appears to be blued over brown on both the barrel and the receiver. I'm not sure about this. Probably 80% of the metal is a brown color with blotches of what looks to me like blueing covering the rest. The forend cap looks color-case hardened to me. Under the forend there appears to be gray/unfinished metal on the barrel.

    -Markings: on forend cap (the metal piece which attaches to the wood closest to the breech end) is the numbers 57241. This number also appears on the left side of the receiver covered by the buttstock (just below the main spring). The forend wood has the numbers 7241 (just no 5) impressed in it as well. The top of the barrel says "CHAMPION" in all capital letters and underneath that it says "PATD. APR.2'01 APR.15'02 PATS. PENDING". There are no markings on either side of the receiver (either curved or straight).

    -The forend screws on the barrel, there is not a plunger type of system.

    -The latch for the release has straight lines in it, not a cross checkered pattern.

    -The hinge pin is broken, only about three fourths of it remains, the rest being rigged with a woods screw inserted into the hinge pin. I'm not even sure the broken hinge pin is original.

    -The buttplate is just a piece of leather tacked on the buttstock with a couple dozen cobbler's type nails. I'm pretty sure these would not be fun for recoil.

    -Lock-up is tight and the bore is actually in good shape. A couple small areas of pitting (which seems minor). If you manually push the firing pin out, it does not go back in on its own. The end of the firing pin has a few small dings in it and the spring is fairly lifeless.

    -The is no plate/cap at the bottom of the semi-pistol grip.

    -I measured the distance from the ridge in the chamber to the end of the breech end of the barrel and got 2.640". I have not used a chamber gauge yet, but am assuming this is chambered for 2.5" shells.

    -Front bead site is broken, no bead, just a nub.

    I have a digital camera if specific pictures are wanted, but I'm not much of a photographer (I take pictures like I shoot a shotgun, point and pull the trigger). I was thinking the date could be narrowed by finding the next patent date after the '02 one. I spent some time at the patent office website. I now have a headache and saw plans for a "Mustache Guard" but didn't learn much except early 20th century patents are entertaining. Thanks in advance for any help. I've gotten a fair idea of monetary value, but really am just trying to learn history more than anything. Have a good one.
  2. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    3,174
    Location:
    houston, tx
    pictures would be very helpful beecause these patent dates were used on two early champion single barrel shotguns. the top snap champion improved model 1901 (1902-1908) and the champion semi-hammerless ejector gun model 1900 improved (1901-1908). the patent pending is most likely for a patent appilied for at the sma time the other two were applied for (1898) but not actually issued until 1908.

    go back to the u.s. patent office web site and click on patents and then patent search and patent number. then look at patent numbers 670985, 697516 and 893014.

    which ever model this turns out to be this is a black powder gun and should not be fired with modern ammo. the earliest in could have been manufactured is 1902 and the latest is 1908 (the year these two models were discontinued. in 1909 when iver johnson switch to smokeless powder the champion single barrel shotgun was redesigned with smokeless powder in mind and only the top snap model was manufactured.

    the original finish of this gun was browned barrel and case hardened frame and the hard rubber but plate would have the name in script of either champion or iver johnson. these butt plates are very hard to find. the butt plate with the owls head was not used until 1909.

    please send the pictures because even bad pictures should help identify the exact model. but i will not be able to give you an exact year of manufacture just the era.
    bill
  3. DillHarris

    DillHarris New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Missouri
    Wow, thank you very much Mr. Goforth. That is incredible. The missing/broken hinge pin on my gun looks like it should be that last patent (#893014) as it would fit in the slot on the right side of my gun. I do not think the other two patents apply. The first is for an extractor that is retained by a screw from the bottom of the barrel, the one on mine is retained by a pin through the side. The functioning of the extractor would be the same however, it would make contact with the breechface and stop its motion before it could "throw" the empty shell. In order to break the action open on mine, I push a lever behind the hammer to the right, it is not in the trigger guard. Here are a few pictures. I took several and can get a picture of anything you would want. I just don't know what would be useful. These pictures didn't capture the finish real well. Thanks again. 1902-1908 is already a much narrower age range than what I was expecting to get (with the lack of serial number records). I'm also glad to know that it was made for blackpowder. If it shot much blackpowder, it was cleaned well afterwards. I really appreciate you sharing your expertise and your time. It has made this gun that much more fun.

    Attached Files:

  4. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    3,174
    Location:
    houston, tx
    this is the champion top snap improved model of 1901. i forgot to list two other iver johnson shotgun patents that cover features used on this and the semi-hammerless ejector guns. number 754080 and 818461.

    for you information listed below is a list of all iver johnson shotgun patents. these are listed by the date they were applied for (not date issued) to show the progression of iver johnson shotgun designs

    DATE APPLIED FOR NUMBER DATE ISSUED COMMENTS
    12-03-1879 230,409* 07-27-1880 CENTRAL MOUNTED HAMMER EUTEBROUK this patent controlled by J.P. Lovell Arms CO.

    09-04-1880 253,292 02-07-1882 DOUBLE BARREL HAMMER I.J. & M.B.

    04-17-1884 379,257 03-13-1888 SINGLE SHOT SHOTGUN/RIFLE I.J. & R.T.T.

    09-14-1885 339,299 04-06-1888 SHOTGUN EJECTOR I. JOHNSON

    07-07-1886 350,681 10-12-1886 HAMMERLESS SINGLE BARREL I.J. & A.F.

    06-21-1888 391,155 10-16-1888 HAMMERLESS SINGLE BARREL I.J. & A.F.

    11-04-1898 697,516* 04-15-1902 RING TRIGGER SINGLE BARREL MOSSBERG

    11-04-1898 754,080** 03-08-1904 SHOTGUN HINGE PIN MOSSBERG

    08-30-1899 818,461 04-24-1906 SINGLE BARREL SHOTGUN MOSSBERG

    01-14-1901 670,985* 04-02-1901 SINGLE BARREL EJECTOR ELLSTROM

    07-08-1902 893,014** 07-17-1908 SHOTGUN HINGE PIN RINGQVIST

    07-08-1902 754,092** 03-08-1904 SHOTGUN EJECTOR RINGQVIST

    02-16-1904 832,660** 10-09-1906 TRIGGER ACTION SINGLE BAR. ELLSTROM

    08-10-1904 802,803* 10-24-1905 TRIGGER ACTION S.B. ELLSTROM

    08-10-1904 803,277* 10-31-1905 TRIGGER ACTION-EJECTOR ELLSTROM

    11-03-1909 1,142,934* 06-15-1915 SMALL BORE SINGLE BARREL COBB

    08-24-1914 1,131,984** 03-16-1915 DOUBLE BARREL SHOTGUN BARNES

    09-05-1914 1,137,045** 04-27-1915 DOUBLE BARREL SHOTGUN BARNES

    04-22-1927 1,673,666* 06-12-1928 Model X 22 single shot rifle A.P. CURTIS

    * denotes dates marked on firearms
    **denotes patents used but not marked on firearms

    I do not know what this list will look like after i post it but i believe you will be able to pick out the patent numbers.
    bill
  5. DillHarris

    DillHarris New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Missouri
    That is excellent information. Looking over the list you provided, and the dates, those patents I said were different are the ones stamped on the barrel. I'll have to read the text of the patent a little more carefully (lawyer speak isn't my first language). You have gone way beyond the call of duty on this, I really appreciate it. I will definitely keep this information. I guess I'll keep my eyes open for an old, shot out, junker with an intact hinge pin. This'll be a wall hanger and something to talk about. Maybe I'll try to find a later model I can turn into a shooter. Uh oh, here comes a new obsession. Thanks again Mr. Goforth, this has been a great lesson for me. From this point, I'm going to oil it well and see what my father-in-law would like to do with it. Have a good one.
  6. KHGII

    KHGII New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2008
    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Roanoke, VA
    Hello,

    New to the site and got on though a shearch for a home defence weapon I just purchased for $50 which is what it is worth but find looking for the history of the gun fun. The gun I have is break open, lever release, Patents APR201(1?) APR502 Pats Pending on the top of the barrel, looks like an attempt at auto-eject but in it's current condition would not. Engraving on the left side of the gun says "Champion" pat. pending, Champion Arms Co. Fitchburg-Mass." 26" barrel. 12 ga. The top of the barrel is very pitted.

    Would be neat to know if this gun is 100 years old.

    Take care and thanks.
    Kemper

    Attached Files:

  7. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    3,174
    Location:
    houston, tx
    this is an interesting shotgun in the fact that it is marked "champion arms co.". as far as i can tell this is iver johnson's first attempt at manufacturing an in house Brand name shotgun. they later (sometime after 1910) offered the "EXCEL" single barrel shotgun as in in house Brand name.

    the manufacturing era of this shotgun would be sometime between 1901 and 1908. this shotgun was manufactured before iver johnson made the switch to smokeless powder and should NOT be fired with modern ammo.

    i would like to add this is not a shotgun seen very often today but were once made as a high volume low cost single barrel utility shotgun (not many have survived intact).
    bill
  8. KHGII

    KHGII New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2008
    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Roanoke, VA
    Thank you very much for the information. I have a new found fondness of this weapon, it's history and will pass that infomation along to my family so it can be know.

    I also thank you very much for the safety information and will put the hot load turkey shot shells away. I guess you can't always trust your gun shop salesperson as I asked if this could be used for home defense and fire. I am now back in the market for a low cost 12 ga. any suggestions?

    Thanks again,
    Kemper
  9. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    3,174
    Location:
    houston, tx
    i would look for one of the modern used H&R's or some time you can find mossberg pump shotguns cheap. several years ago i picked up a mossberg 20 gauge magnum model 500 pump. it was not pretty but functions well. it cost me $80 at a pawn shop.
    bill
  10. KHGII

    KHGII New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2008
    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Roanoke, VA
    I sure would like to use this shotgun and given it can only handle blackpowder rounds I am not having any luck on finding where you can buy them if they make them. I tried Caribala and Dixie. Any suggestions?
  11. eodrob96

    eodrob96 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    1
    I am glad that this post is so recent and active. I received an Iver Johnson Champion 12 gauge recently from my father in law. It was my wife's grandfathers and it is in excellent condition. It reads something different than the others on here but looks the same. It has the Owl logo on the buttplate and the receiver reads "CHAMPION (in sort of a fancy script)(next line) IVER JOHNSON'S ARMS AND CYCLE WORKS (next line) FITCHBURG MASS. U.S.A." On the top center of the barrel it reads "-12 GAUGE FULL CHOKE. BARREL AND LUG FORGED IN ONE-" The last markings I can find are a sort of code like a serial number on several parts. On the underside of the handguard, the mount screwed to the handguard, the bottom of the lug, and on the bottom tang of the receiver are the letters "GRCU". The receiver is flat sided like in the second set of pics above. I would appreciate any info you could give me. There is nothing about any "Pats Pending" or anything else. I am normally a mil surp guy but this is a beautiful old shotgun I would like to know more about. Perhaps I was VERY stupid today but everything looked good to me to take it out and shoot it. I would like to use it for some deer hunting (I like to use older guns as it makes me feel connected to my Great Grandfather and the old hunting camp). I fired two 2 3/4 Remington sluggers out of it and killed my shoulder. First I guess I am lucky nothing went wrong, second I will NEVER do that again. It kicked harder than anything I have ever shot in my life to include .50 cal BMG rifles. Thanks guys.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2008
  12. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    3,174
    Location:
    houston, tx
    there was a time in the late 1930's (1937-1940) where iver johnson used letter instead of numbers in their serial numbers on single barrel shotguns. the reason for this is unknown at this point in time. some of these letters even spelled simple words, i have seen one thar read BUG U. after wwII they went back to numbers and a single letter suffix.

    bill
  13. KHGII

    KHGII New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2008
    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Roanoke, VA
    This project as I now call it has become very interesting. Finding pre-loaded blackpowder shells is not easy however, loading your own is not that complicated. I've ordered the pre-primed shells from Cablais, the wads, cards, and shot from circle fly wads.

    Kemper
  14. KHGII

    KHGII New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2008
    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Roanoke, VA
    I should clarify the cards, wad, and shot were ordered through Track of the Wolf, Inc.
  15. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    3,174
    Location:
    houston, tx
    good luck with your project.
    bill
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Iver Johnson value Thursday at 9:34 PM
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Antique Iver Johnson 12 Gauge. Need help finding dates and value or any info on the piece Tuesday at 3:05 PM
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Iver Johnson 12 gauge Aug 17, 2014
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Iver Johnson Handguns I inherited #2 #3 Aug 2, 2014
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Iver Johnson Handguns I inherited. Any info would be great. Aug 2, 2014

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page