need an Id for an Iver Johnson Pistol

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by my-paw, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. my-paw

    my-paw New Member

    Aug 27, 2007
    I recently purchased a 22 cal. break top IJ pistol. The only writing on the pistol besides the serial #, is on the top rib. It says Iver Johnson arms and cycle works on one line, and Fitchburg Mass. U.S.A. on the second line. There is know other writing anywhere on the pistol. The serial # is in three places, under the top strap, bottom of the trigger guard, and underneath the grips on the grip strap, left side. The # under the grips is 6149, there are no letters or other figures present. The pistol has a small frame, it is a seven shot. It has a one piece walnut grip that appears to be oil finished, and the barrel is 5" long. Now for the strange part, there is highly polished bluing on the barrel, the cylinder, and the trigger guard. The frame of the pistol is a highly polished bronze color. It is a very beautiful pistol, and the finish appears to be original, and is about 98%. I would like to know what model I have, what year it was produced, and its approximate value.
  2. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Hi my-paw....welcome to TFF. :)

    Keep checking back. Our resident expert on "all things Iver Johnson", Bill Goforth, should be along soon, and he can tell all you want to know (and more) about your revolver.

    BTW, Bill literally "wrote the book" on Iver Johnsons...

  3. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

    Dec 30, 2003
    houston, tx
    pictures would help confirm but i believe i can tell you something about your revolver. the oversize one piece walnut grips were called "western walnut" in the catalogs and they were only offered on the third model safety automatic revolvers. the iver johnson's arms & cycle works 'safety automatic revolver' was manufactured between 1894 and 1941. there were three models, first model 1894-1896, second model 1896-1908 and third model 1909-1941. only the third model is considered safe with modern ammo.

    as stated the western walnut grips were only offered on the third model so if in good shooting condition you should not have any problems with modern ammo as long as you stay with factory standard velocity (no hyper-velocity stuff). the only problem you might encounter is modern 22 long rifle ammo tends to be a little longer than the pre-war stuff so the cylinder will most likely bind because of the overall cartridge length. 22 long ammo is only loaded by one company that i am aware of (CCI) and is very expensive. 22 short is still loaded by several companies but it also cost a little more than long rifle.

    the reason your revolver does not have a letter code on the left side of the grip frame (third model 22 rimfire hammer models used "E") is because between their introduction in 1909 and about the mid 1920's the revolvers equiped with the 'western walnut grip" were considered by the factory as special order. special orders were anything that were removed from the assembly line for extra work. in the case of these grips it was the drilling and tapping of the bottom of the grip frame for the single screw that held these grips in place. special order numbers started at 1 and went up to however many were ordered of a single feature. i can not give you an exact date of manufacure for your revolver for that reason. what i can tell you is your revolver is the 6,149th small frame 22 rimfire third model ordered with this grip. the small frame 22 rimfire caliber third model safety automatic revolver was less popular than the small frame 32 centerfire model with only approx. 40,000 manufactured between 1910 and 1941.

    since revolvers with these grips were not treated as special orders after about 1925 and patent dates were discontinued on the bottom of the butt (even special orders carried the patent date markings) about 1921 i would guess your revolver was manufactured between 1921 and 1926.

    now for the bad news the finish is not original. the original blue finish was the same on the barrel, frame and cylinder. because the frame of the safety automatic revolvers was a slightly different hardness from the barrel and cylinder it will almost alway turnout "bronze or plum" when reblued using modern bluing formulas. even the factory had trouble and that is one reason why nickel remained the standard finish until the end of production in 1941.

    i really do not like to give values without seeing the gun first hand but a refinished third model in 22 rimfire with the western walnut grips in good shootable condition should bring about $125 to $150 and if all your interested in is insurance value then double the high figure.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2007
  4. my-paw

    my-paw New Member

    Aug 27, 2007
    Thanks for your help, the pistol is rather pretty, too bad it's not original.
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