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Need Info on Iver Johnson Hammerless Revolver

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by silver-fox, Apr 13, 2006.

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  1. silver-fox

    silver-fox New Member

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    Hi,
    I`d like to find info on an Iver Johnson Safety Hammerless revolver I have..Would like to know manufacture date & model (if able to use modern ammo) were alot made at that time ?..Description:
    .32 cal..Nickle finish (excellent condition), black grips with owl heads, also excellent condition..Top break, double post..I don`t know what to look for in telling diff. between leaf & coil spring..On top of barrel: Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works, Fitchburg Mass. U.S.A..The detail of mark makes it very easy to read, but I noticed something I thought may be odd..End of first line, after Works, there is a stamp mark of a box with an x inside..The odd part, is at the begining of first line, instead of the "I", the stamp of the square over lapped the "I", (both being same heights) making it just look like the imprint of a square (there is no x thru this one) then ver Johnson..serial # on trigger guard: 43494, under left grip is L 43494..On butt of gun: (3 lines) PAT`D APR.6.86.FEB15.87.MAY.10.87.MAR.13.88.AUG.25.96. PAT`S PENDING..

    Thanks for taking the time to read & post reply (if able)
  2. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Hi Silver Fox.....welcome to TFF. :)

    I can't answer your question....but we've got a REAL expert on IJ's here on the board, Bill Goforth, who's written a book on 'em.

    http://www.gunshowbooks.com/home.html

    Bill can tell you not only the model and date it was built....but probably what the guy that built it had for breakfast that morning! :)

    Keep checking back.....he'll wander in sooner or later.
  3. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    silver-fox,
    actually your description made it very easy to identify your revolver. it is a small frame second model safety automatic hammerless manufactured in 1904. all second models (1896-1908) were manufactured for black powder cartridge pressures and should not be used with modern ammo.

    the answer to were there many of them manufactured is yes, the first model (1894-1896) and second model (1896-1908) are collectible while the third model (1909-1941 manufactured for smokeless powder) are shootable if in good condition. there were two frame sizes in both the hammer and hammerless versions and they were offered in 4 calibers (22 to 38), with the 22 caliber being the least produced. between 1894 and 1942 there were approx. 14 million manufactured of all frame sizes, calibers and hammer/hammerless versions. of that total approx 650,000 were small frame second model hammerless 32 caliber versions. the years 1903 and 1904 were the high production years for the small frame hammerless 32s with 100,000 manufactured each year.

    for your information during the 1890s (1890-1899) iver johnson's arms & cycle works factory had the capablitiy of manufactuing 2000 firearms a day.
    it consister of 7 three story brick building and covering 5 acres. 5 of these buildings are still standing today.
    bill
  4. silver-fox

    silver-fox New Member

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    Thanks for the great info, Bill..Now knowing that it is the 2nd model, made for black powder ammo, could explain the problem I had while shooting it..This revolver is in excellent condition, so I took it out to see how it would shoot..However, I used modern .32 ammo..It shot o.k, but when I broke it open to empty the shells, nothing happened..I belived that either using "generic" ammo has caused this, or the cylinder was wore out, because what happened was that the shells seemed to have expanded & would`nt eject..After a short time, when the brass had cooled down, they came out..Thankfully no damage..As I said, thinking it may be the cylinder, I ordered one online, looked as though it was cleaned in acid :D , no nickel color left..If it was`nt for your help, I would have tried shooting again, still using modern ammo..
    Does anyone know if they still make the black powder ammo, or anyone who sells it ?..This piece is too nice just to sit in the safe without being able to take it out once in awhile..
    Thanks again Bill & Xracer for the welcome..
  5. Youngster

    Youngster New Member

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    Just ran across this old thread searching for info on my grandfather's Iver Johnson Safety Automatic Hammerless. I'd like to identify it, put it in shooting condition, shoot it, and then put it away for the next generation. Here's what I know:

    Small frame (.32) hammerless
    S/N B 3 98 43

    Top break, 5 shot
    Safety lever on trigger
    Separate hammer shroud
    Owl looking at trigger

    Top of barrel
    IVER JOHNSON’S ARMS & CYCLE WORKS. FITCHBURO MASS. U.S.A.
    PAT’D APR. 6,89. FEB. 15,87. MAY 10,87. DEC. 26,93. PAT’S PENDING

    I'm interested in learning year of manufacture and whether there are people who can sell me appropriate ammo.

    Thanks.
  6. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    youngster,
    this revolver should have the barrel release lever on the left side of the barrel top strap (single top post barrel latch). it is a first model manufactured in 1896 DO NOT FIRE THIS REVOLVER WITH MODERN AMMO.

    it would best to leave it as is and retire it to a place of honor for having served so long and well.

    if you must repalce parts numrich arms (e-gunparts.com) does have some but not all. some new springs are available through numrich other parts they have are used from revolvers they have broken down for the parts.
    bill
  7. Youngster

    Youngster New Member

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    Bill:

    Many thanks for the ID (pic attached). The revolver was a part of my grandfather’s gear on his 1898 solo bicycle trip from St. Joseph, MO to La Junta, CO, mostly along RR right of way. I plan to have it cleaned and inspected by a gunsmith. I doubt if I will fire it, even if I can get someone to load low pressure rounds, because I can’t get my arthritic finger knuckle through the tiny space between trigger and guard.

    Thanks again.

    Bob
    (Youngster)

    Attached Files:

  8. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    bob,
    the picture confirms it is a first model manufactured in 1896.
    bill
  9. froggly1

    froggly1 New Member

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    I hope someone can help me here. My dad bought a Iver Johnson's pistol.across the barrel it says Iver Johnson's Arms & Cycle works Fitchburg Mass. USA. It was in pieces when he got it and has put it all back together except for one spring. He is needing a picture of one broke down so he can see how to put it back together. It is a 6 shot revolver , 32 caliber. it says Jun 16.96.aug25.?? (and we can't see the last to numbers) and i guess the s/n is Q9290. Thanks for any help i can get!!!
  10. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    froggly,
    the two patent dates and the "Q" letter code indicate this revolver is a large frame second model 38 caliber 'safety automatic hammer revolver'. the second model was manufactured between 1896 and 1908. serial number Q9290 was manufactured in 1906, with about 100,000 manufactured that year. all second model safety automatic revolvers (including this one) were manufactured for black powder cartridge pressures and are NOT safe with modern smokeless ammo.

    send me an e-mail at bgofoth@peoplepc.com and i will send a cutaway drawing from a 1902 catalog that should show how the parts go together
    bill
  11. froggly1

    froggly1 New Member

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    Hey bill,
    I was wondering if i sent you a picture of this pistol if you could tell me what it is worth?
  12. froggly1

    froggly1 New Member

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  13. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Froggly....the Standard Catalog of Firearms values your I.J. Safety Automatic at:

    Exc. - $250
    V.G. - $170
    Good - $120
    Fair - $95
  14. NewIverowner

    NewIverowner New Member

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    I would like some help on pinpointing the year on my Iver Johnson revolver. I found the serial on the hand grip frame and underneath the top section that overhangs the cylinder, both say 95928. I was told it was a .32 short, has a five shot cylinder and the owl grips with the owl facing down the barrel. It reads on top of the barrel Iver Johnson's Arms & Cycle Works, Fitchburc, Mass USA. On the side of the barrell it reads:
    PAT'D APR,6,86,FEB. Looks like 15,87 MAY 10,87 than two stars
    MAR.13,88,AUG.25,96,PAT'S Pending and two more stars.
    This has the little lever in the center of the triger and double post release on the top.
  15. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    the 5 patent dates marked on the left side of the barrel was only used for a short time 1900 to 1902 on the second model (1896-1908) safety automatic revolver. the lack of a letter code prefix is interesting in that all other small frame 32 S&W caliber hammerless model i have seen or encountered will have the letter code prefix "B" to thier serial number and the large frame 38 S&W caliber have a "D". this revolver with the serial number 95000 range would most likely have been manufactured in 1902.

    this is a second model and all second models were manufactured for black powder cartridge pressures only and are not considered safe with modern smokeless ammo.

    the lever in the trigger is actually a safety. the trigger can not be pulled unless the trigger firnger depresses this safety. this type of trigger safety is in use today by glock and several others. iver johnson's first patent to include this trigger safety is dated 1886. it was included in all iver johnson production top break hammerless revolvers manufactured between 1887 and 1909. it predates the introduction of the safety automatic revolver by about 7 years. there were two other iver johnson manufactured top break revolvers that used it the 'lovell automatic hammerless revolver' of 1887 and "lovell swift hammerless revolver" of 1890.
    bill
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2007
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