Iver Johnson Top Break Revolver

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by bebrown1075, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. bebrown1075

    bebrown1075 New Member

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    Hello All...

    I am new to this forum and have a question. I just inherited a 5 shot Iver Johnson top break revolver from my Grandmother. The top strap says Iver Johnson's Arms and Cycle Works Fitchburg MASS USA. The grips are black with an ornate design on them. They have what appears to be an Owl on them. The bottom of the trigger guard has the number 6 8159. On the frame between the grip panels are 2 patent dates :T JUNE 16.96 AUG 25.96. and it appears to read IS PENDING right below those dates. There are NO caliber markings on the barrel. There is a number inside the Top Strap when I remove the cylinder I can barely make it out. It appears to read 5875 and there is also a letter C. The barrel is 3 inches long. I just found one other number under the grip. S 68159. The cylinder freely spins at rest. It appears to fire in single action by cocking the hammer or in double action mode.

    Can anyone help me identify this little revolver ? I posted this in an H&R thread also..I thought it was for Iver Johnson's... Sorry for the double post.

    Thanks everyone!

    Brad
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  2. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum. Serial number S68159 and those patent dates indicate you have a small frame hammer model made in 1908, chambered for .32 S&W black powder cartridges. The serial number under the top strap should also be 68159, but probably corrosion has distorted it. A different number would indicate a mismatched barrel and frame.

    It's normal for the cylinder to spin freely on these except when the hammer is cocked and at moment of firing.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  3. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    The 1905, 1906,1907 Small Frame, Hammer 5Th Variation, 32 S&W Center fire uses that barrel marking, the two patent dates ( same as yours ) and a S prefix. The only problem I have is the serial number shows it to be a 1908 4Th and 6Th variation. However Iver Johnson was making so many revolvers, the records are somewhat hit and miss. It is thanks to the late Bill Goforth that we even have this information. So, It appears that you have a 32 Center fire, Small frame made in 1907/8 made for black powder.. Iver Johnson did not go to a stronger smokeless frame until 1909. Having posted that, I will put my foot in my mouth and post this:), The 32 S&W short cartridge is a very mild cartridge. If your firearm is in very good condition ( if in doubt take it to a gun smith ) it should handle occasionally shooting it using modern 32 S&W cartridges., however long term use of smoke less cartridge will " loosen it ". Value, if in very good condition maybe 150, in well worn condition 75 to 100. Best I can do , others?
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  4. fuzebox40

    fuzebox40 Active Member

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    I would suspect that the 1908 literary might possibly should have read "Fifth & Sixth Variation" rather than "Fourth and Sixth". It wouldn't be the only slip in the book. This would account for a Second Model, Fifth Variation, 1908 .32.
    IMHO.
  5. bebrown1075

    bebrown1075 New Member

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    Thank you all for the information! I had a really interesting moment when I removed the grip screw last night to find the number on the frame. I felt it was possible the grip had never been removed since the day they were installed in 1907/1908. You start to wonder who put it together and where the little gun had traveled in its life etc... All I really know about it is that it belonged to my Grandmothers Dad.

    Thank you all for the information.

    Brad
  6. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Contrary to what the movies show, more inexpensive revolvers such as Iver's and H&R were carried in the back pocket of common folks ( cowboys included ) than all the S&W and Colts combined.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  7. midnightwater

    midnightwater New Member

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    have an Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works, Fitchburg Mass. U.S.A. and a star afterwards on top of the barrel. It's a .32 6 shot top break over revolver, I have a few of the short and long cartridges that were in the box with the gun. My Grandmother told me it was her brother's service revolver during WWI. The bottom of the triger guard has the number: 57063 on it and under the left grip it has the number: H57063. The butt of the gun has: PAT, NOV 08, at least it looks like 08, it's a bit worn in that area and PAT'S PENDING is under the that date. The grip's have the IJ fancy scroll letter's on it but neither side has the owls head I have read about and seen in photos posted here. I was wondering just what the history of the gun is and what it may be worth, not that I'll sale it but it's always nice to know that kind of info. I'm sure I'm not the first to ask these questions so Thanks in advance for your time in answering these question for me. [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]&set=a.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]&set=a.2036669952914.118182.1129192172&type=1&theater[/IMG]2036669952914.118182.1129192172&type=1&theater[/IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  8. midnightwater

    midnightwater New Member

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  9. midnightwater

    midnightwater New Member

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    I've tried to attach photos but it does not seem to be letting them post. I can e-mail you the photos if I need to, Thanks again
  10. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    You apparently have a third model large frame hammer model made in 1923 and chambered for the .32 S&W Long cartridge. The grips may be aftermarket. The patent date should read Nov.17.08

    Family legends often become distorted over the years, and it obviously would not have been carried in WW-1.

    To post your photos, click on the "Go Advanced" lnk and then on "Manage Attachments" to find them on your PC to upload.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011
  11. tsconlin

    tsconlin New Member

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    I too have an Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works Pistol.
    It has the Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works Fitchburg Mass USA on top of Barrel, Owl Grip facing Cylinder. Has a PAT NOV 17 on bottom of grip. Serial number on bottom of trigger guard is 11209. Does anyone know the specifics of this pistol, manufacture dates, actual caliber or what the value may be. It is functional with surface pitting and visible wear.

    Thanks,
    Tom C.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2011
  12. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Hi Tom, Welcome to the forum but I refer you to the sticky at top of this page:

    http://www.thefirearmsforum.com/showthread.php?t=90427

    Please also list caliber, and if a topbreak or solid frame type, and hammerless or visible hammer.
  13. tsconlin

    tsconlin New Member

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    Thanks HRF.
  14. keegers4

    keegers4 New Member

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    I have an Iver Johnson's Arms and Cycle Works revolver that was my Grandfather's. It is a .32 5 shot, top break revolver, centerfire with a hammer, and about a 3 inch barrel. The numbers on the trigger guard are 33820 and under the left grip they are G33820. It has a pearl handle with an owl on the top of each grip. Does anyone know what year it is and if it is safe to fire?
  15. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum. You have a 3rd model small frame made in 1918, chambered for the .32 S&W smokeless powder cartridge, and if in proper working condition, safe to fire with that ammo.
  16. keegers4

    keegers4 New Member

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    Thank you.
  17. ZAGE TACTICAL

    ZAGE TACTICAL New Member

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    I just bought a Iver Johnson 32S&W top break and am trying to find out if it takes blackpowder or smokeless. The number under the grip is E74701. You guys know a lot about these little revolvers maybe you can help. Cool guns, predicessor to the Ruger LCP. HaHa! :patriotic:
  18. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    You have a second model small frame .32, but the E prefix was used twice: If the patent dates are on barrel rib with the address, made 1898. If patent dates are on left side of barrel, made 1901. Either way, it's an early black powder gun.
  19. ZAGE TACTICAL

    ZAGE TACTICAL New Member

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    Mine is on the top of the rib, thats to bad I was looking forward to shooting it. I knew it was old, but its in such good shape I wouldnt have thought 1898. Everything seems to function perfect, timed right, great rifling, perfect grips and very little nickle loss. It is a five shot 32 was that the saftey? Anyone know where to get blackpowder loads? Thanks for the welcome, where else can you get knowlage like this?
  20. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Not certain what you're asking, but from first production in 1894, all the I.J. topbreaks were advertised as "Safety Automatic" revolvers.

    I don't know of any current source of black powder .32 S&W loads.
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