Iver Johnson help

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by dubb, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. dubb

    dubb New Member

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    5 years ago I had a pistol given to me, however it was in a case that the person made. I don't know why they gave it to me, but I had it hanging on my wall ever since.
    So i was sitting here today and was wondering what kind of gun it was since it looked pretty good I figured I might use it around in the woods.
    Well I took it out of the wooden enclosure and was looking at it. I noticed on the top of the gone some very fine writing. I looked at it and found the following lines:
    Iver Johnson's arms and cycle works Fitchburg Mass U.S.A
    Pat'd APR 6 86 FEB 15 87 MAY 10 87 MAR 13 88 AUG 25 96. Pat's Pending.

    So I did some research and found some info on it. It appears to be a 2 Gen. but I am not sure since it looks to be in great condition.
    The serial number is in the following format: D42XXX
    Can someone tell me around the time it was made?
    Do they make remakes of this gun that start with such a low serial number? I find it extremely hard to believe that this gun is that old, as the condition of the gun is great, and does not even look like it has been fired before. The only thing that looks old are the grips, they look like they used to be pearl, but have turned yellowish brown over time. The barrel measures 3.25" instead of the standard 3".
    They say if the serial number starts with a F then it is not pre 1899, however mine starts with a D so does that make it pre 1899.

    Here is a link to my pictures: Click here

    Any help would be appreciated, I would really like to know if this gun is pre 1899 as that would make it a antique by law.
  2. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Active Member

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    The gun has obviously been reblued. The grips are made of buffalo horn.
    Bill
  3. dubb

    dubb New Member

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    Hmmm, thanks. Like I said, I don't know a whole lot about the gun, I just know that someone gave it to my grandpa about 16 years ago, and then I ended up with it about 5 years ago. It has been in a case for a long time. Does reblue-ing it decrease it's value? How can I be sure it was reblued? Was buffalo horn grips an option back then or do you think it was added on later?

    Thanks
  4. southernshooter

    southernshooter New Member

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  5. dubb

    dubb New Member

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    Thanks :D
  6. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Active Member

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    The "running" and dishing of the metal around the screw holes is a dead giveaway of a reblue job. Rebluing does decrease value, though this gun was not particularly worth much either way. I believe the grips are hand made, and installed at the time of the refinish.
    Bill
  7. dubb

    dubb New Member

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    Thanks, if this gun was reblued, they must have done it real good as I see none of those signs.
  8. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    you have a second model 38 caliber large frame 'safety automatic hammerless revolver' the second model was manufactured between 1896 and 1908. the second model was also designed for black powder cartridge pressures and are not considered safe with modern ammo. this revolver with the five patent date markings and serial number D42XXX was manufactured in 1898, there were approx 33,000 of this model manufactured that year.

    i am of the opinion it has been reblued. the grips appear to be of modern manufacture (brass screw) and are probably made of some type polymer. my guess is someone wanted something nice to hang on the wall so this gun was refinished and new grips installed. this is a good refinish because all three main parts are the same color (barrel, frame & cylinder). usually when a second model is refinished using modern methods the frame comes out red (or as some call it 'plum').

    this is not a revolver you would want to fire because of its age. put it back in its display case it looks good there.

    the reason your serial number letter code is different from what your found about pre 1898 revolvers is they were talking about the small frame hammer version of the safety automatic revolver. begining in 1895 iver johnson used a different latter code to denote the four seperate model of the safety automatic revolvers. they started with A=small frame hammer 32caliber, B=small frame hammerless 32 caliber, C=large frame hammer 38 caliber and D=large frame hammerless 38 caliber. these letter codes were changed after 100,000 had been reached in each model. the small frame hammer and large frame hammer actually have a new letter code for just about every year of the second model manufacturing era. the large frame hammerless used three and the small frame hammerless used 5.
    bill
  9. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Active Member

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    The grips are horn, not polymer. The laminar separation is characteristic of horn, as is the color.
    Bill
  10. ptrck

    ptrck New Member

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    You can buy plastic or polymer grips with the pre aged qualities so they look old or like a different material. The pictures aren't good enough to tell for sure.
  11. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Active Member

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    Trust me, if there is a "horn expert" around, I'm it. I work it almost daily.
    Why would anyone think they are not horn?
    Bill
  12. dubb

    dubb New Member

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    Thanks alot bill and Bill... That is very useful information, and I am glad to know that it is legally classified as an Antique, might help me get a little more out of it. I had an offer for $150, so I might take that. I would like to trade it for a .22 rimfire pistol tho...
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2006
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