Johnson Flint/Lock Shotgun

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by hercules9, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. hercules9

    hercules9 New Member

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    I just bought a Johnson double barrel shotgun that just states: Johnson on the side. The shop owner states that it's from the 1800-1840,s. The barrel is 38 inches long (very heavy) with a wood ramrod. Some simple, but nice engraving on all metal pieces. The shot cavity has what appears to be a stag or elk. The hammer is heavily springed & I almost need two thumbs to pull it back.

    >>>Is this the correct age?

    >>>I thought Iver Johnson only came to america in the late 1890's or is this another Johnson?

    >>>Approx. value? (condition I would guess is good to very good)

    >>>There is a name engraved between & in front of the hammers, either Brandon Christ or Landon Christ....anyway to research this?

    Thank you............Greg
  2. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    Iver wasn't the only Johnson to make guns....:D
    My listing of American Firearms Makers has 9 Johnsons listed, and these are only a few of the possibilities. Going by the fact it is a flinter, it probably was made prior to 1850 or so. However I believe that flintlocks were still being made much later. (They weren't dependent on having caps to function. This could be important in the wilderness.)
    Using 1850 as a cut-off date there still 5 possibilities:
    Henry Johnson circ. 1840 Buffalo NY
    Robert Johnson 1822-1854, Middletown CN.
    Seth Johnson 1773-1777, Old Rutland MA.
    William Johnson circ. 1790 Worcester, MA.
    Samuel Johnson circ.1850, Pittsburg, PA.

    Of course there were a large number of "part time" 'smiths that made guns as a sideline to their other profession. (Usually farming. They made firearms in the offseason.)
    The named lockplates are probably because that there were makers that specialized in locks which were purchased by gunmakers for use on their firearms. Why go to the effort of making a lock, when you could buy a ready-made?
    My listing shows a Daniel and Jacob Christ as Kentucky Rirle makers in Lancaster PA in the 1770's. As professions tended to run in families, Brandon/Landon Christ may have been a descendent or other relative.

    As to value, I will leave that to someone else after you post some pictures.
    (I know nothing about shotguns.:confused:)
  3. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Might the marking on the barrel(s) be "London Twist", indicating what we now call Damascus barrels? The term does not mean the gun is English, although there were several Johnsons making guns in England in that general timeframe.You can remove the barrels and look for proof marks. Marks like a crown and a V or GP indicate a British gun; an oval with E L G indicates Belgian.

    I strongly recommend that no attempt be made to fire that gun. Damascus barrels were made by winding strips of iron and steel around a rod called a mandrel, then hot welding them together. While well made Damascus barrels were adequately strong when made, time has often allowed corrosion to get into the zillions of tiny (and invisible) gaps in the welding and weakened the barrels.

    Jim
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2009
  4. hercules9

    hercules9 New Member

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    Thank you so much for all of your very informative replies. I will use your information to seek further in determining exactly what I have.

    You all are great; thank you for your time & interest.............Greg
  5. hercules9

    hercules9 New Member

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    Jim,

    I think you've got it.....at closer look & with stronger glasses, it does look like fansy writing that says London Twist! Since this is my first gun, I don't want to take it apart yet, but if I understand you correctly, the prove marking are only to be seen by taking it apart & looking where it's attached to the wood?

    Does the date still seem correct to be between 1800-1840?

    I appreciate anymore info. if you have more.

    Thank you again.........Greg
  6. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Double barrel flintlock shotguns are a bit uncommon, are you sure it's a flintlock and not a percussion lock?

    Can you post photos?
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2009
  7. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    This date range may be about correct for American made flintlocks, but if it turns out to be European made, be aware that Belgium was still turning out flintlocks as late as WW2. (Mainly for the African trade. Once again because of the lack of need for "new-fangled" things like percussion caps and such.:eek:) Stoeger was offering them for $10.00 to $100.00 as late as 1937 or so.
  8. hercules9

    hercules9 New Member

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    No not 100% sure it's a flintlock. Sorry it may be percussion. I thought because I was told it was as old as 1800 & it has the ramrod & the way the store owner described the method of firing, it was flintlock. The large hammer does strike over & enclose a slightly smaller protruding nipple......percussion???

    I'll send photos after I get back home from vacation in a few days.

    Thank you for your help & education..............Greg
  9. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    Yes, percussion. Moves the production date to 1850-1890 or so.......
  10. hercules9

    hercules9 New Member

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    Thank you again. I would like to learn more about vintage US fire arms. Is there one or two books that you strongly recommend.

    >>>I would also be interested in aquiring a vintage shotgun that I could use with confidence; recommendations of any of particular beauty & history?

    Sincerely............Greg
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