Old Iver Johnson shotgun

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by dorsalmd, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. dorsalmd

    dorsalmd New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2011
    Messages:
    4
    have an old iver johnson single barrel shotgun. 32 1/4" barrel. 48 1/4" over all length. Full choke. .701" inside diameter of barrel at choke end. Has ring within trigger guard to break action. Has exposed hammer with approx. 1/2" concave radius and knurled tip. Stamp on left side of action: "Iver Johnson's Arms & Cycle Works, Fitchburg, Mass. U.S.A.". Top of barrel has: "Patd. Apr. 1 '01 Apr. 15 '02 Pats. Pending". Also, faint stamp of Iver Johnson (I think). Appears to have walnut fore and butt stock. Letters "IJ" on plate on bottom of pistol grip. Serial # is 35786. Number on barrel is: J28123. Gun was purported to me my great grandfather's. He died in 1925.
    The gun has been reblued withing the last 40 years and the stock has been refinished. The barrel is pitted.
    Can anyone tell me when the gun was manufactured?
    Can any other info be derived from the serial number?
    What is it worth?
  2. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,986
    Welcome to the forum.

    There are no serial number records for Iver Johnson shotguns but the "semi-hammerless" with ring trigger break open was made 1897-1904, and the patent dates on yours seem to narrow production date to 1902-04.

    There are few collectors of Iver Johnson shotguns, and the refinishing destroyed the collector value. It's also a black powder era gun, and should not be fired with modern shells, so remaining value is as a decorator, maybe $100-$150 tops.

    Below is the adv. in 1900 Sears catalog.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  3. dorsalmd

    dorsalmd New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2011
    Messages:
    4
    hrf,
    thank you very much. troubling info about the loads. when I was a teenager/young man (1960's), I routinely took the iver johnson to a shooting match near my home. I'm pretty sure we shot "low brass" shells. Fortunately, I survived.
    Are there safe modern loads which can be shot in the gun?
  4. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,986
    The main problem with use of modern shells is that they'll soon loosen the lockup, like they did my dad's N. R. Davis double when I was a teenager. It's over 100 years old and has earned retirement, unless you find a source for black powder loads
  5. StoneChimney

    StoneChimney New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,086
    A company called GameBore sells 2 1/2" black powder 12ga shells suitable for use in older shotguns. Midway USA sells the brand, although appears they are out of stock. Google search may disclose other retailers.

    That said, I would certainly suggest having a gunsmith familiar with older shotguns look at it and determine shootability even with these loads. We have made shooters out of similar older shotguns by freshening up springs, replacing/making new hinge pins, so on and so forth. Headspace can be corrected, forcing cone, chamber and bore can be polished, tolerances/wear can be tightened, etc.

    Of course, all of that can get expensive and it is up to the owner to determine cost to shoot versus value of shooting. Wouldn't blame you a bit if you just cleaned it up and put it on the wall.
  6. dorsalmd

    dorsalmd New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2011
    Messages:
    4
    You guys r great. Thanks for all the help. I guess I have some thinking and decisions to make.
  7. danmax1

    danmax1 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Oakland County, MI.
    My first posting on the forum. My Iver Johnson Champion [20 gauge I think] seems to be from the mid 1930's to late 1930's. The S/N:99476 D. Here is how I got the date [which is a wild guess but doable] I am starting with a S/N zero to my guns S/N.
    If the S/N is 99476 D, I divided the S/N by the production years. 1909-1935=26 years at 3,826 units per year.
    Divided S/N by the production years 1909-1939=30 years of at 3,316 units per year. Using this method, mine would have been the last one made before 1940 when they went to all letters. This I doubt but I have no other way to figure it out. I.J. dating is a real mystery

    I'm OCD so please bare with me. I use all kinds of ways to determine age & this way seemed to work the best. I am hoping that there is someone who is better versed in figuring age. I mean my Belgium Browning A5 has a S/N that shows it's age to be 1951. So I'm going by their model production S/N's & not the total units made by the manufacturer, since they made several different models. I went to the Browning Website & the A5 S/N's which started in 1903 @ S/N:1 to 1953 which ended at 438,000 units manufactured. I used Browning's method because even though A5's were made in different places & by different Companies, the S/N's were in order. Like Iver Johnson. They used this same method from 1909 to 1939 with the exception that some S/N's did not have one letter added to the S/N.
    Now that I might have confused most of you, I still hope that there is one member who can help. As far as a value, I don't really care. The gun should fire fine, all the S/N's match so it's like it was when it left the factory. Thanks in advance-danmax1
  8. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,986
    Welcome to TFF, but what's your source of 1909-1935 production period? According to the late I. J. author Bill Goforth, a serial no. with one letter suffix was made in 1920s.
  9. danmax1

    danmax1 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Oakland County, MI.
    Well, I was on a few forums & that was what I came up with. I didn't go to the I.J. site that Bill had listed. If I did I'd probably have the answers. Plus where I found my gun [in a basement of a house I was wrecking for BASF in Detroit] the new property owners gave me the age of the man who had that house was in his late 80's to early 90's when he passed & I read somewhere where a guy had a shotgun with a serial number that was about 1,500 before mine was manufactured so going by that, I came up with the mid 1930's because the guy there said his was from 1932-33 even though he had no letter at the end of his S/N.

    I didn't notice in any posts that the letter suffix like mine stating it was made in the 1920's. Thank you "hrf" for your reply. I'll research more in the future before I just start posting. I'm guessing it's a 20 gauge by the choke end of the Barrel. Although it's in good shape, I'm still looking at the fact that I.J. shotguns are a real important part of history so all I'll do is box frame it along with a 1908 Ad that shows a gun like mine. I already told my grandson that if he keeps it oiled & clean it should last for years to come.

    Now that I have it narrowed down to a 10 year period I'll be able to keep an eye out for people who have one with a better idea when theirs was made. I did read somewhere where a guy said his was from 1917-18 & the serial numbers were not much earlier than mine. So with that, I might be able to narrow the age gap to 1920-23......
    Thanks again, Dan [danmax]
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  10. danmax1

    danmax1 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Oakland County, MI.
    Well, I was on a few forums & that was what I came up with. I didn't go to the I.J. site that Bill had listed. If I did I'd probably have the answers. I read somewhere where a guy had a shotgun with a serial number that were about 1,500 before mine was manufactured so going by that, I came up with the mid 1930's because the guy there said his was from 1932-33.

    I didn't notice in any posts that the letter suffix like mine stating it was made in the 1920's. Thank you "hrf" for your reply. I'll research more in the future before I just start posting. I'm guessing it's a 20 gauge by the choke of the Barrel. Although it's in good shape, I'm still looking at the fact that I.J. shotguns are a real important part of American History so all I'll do is box frame it along with a 1908 Ad that shows a gun like mine. I already told my grandson that if he keeps it oiled & clean it should last for years to come.

    Now that I have it narrowed down to a 10 year period I'll be able to keep an eye out for people who have one with a better idea when theirs was made. I did read somewhere where a guy said his was from 1916-17 & the serial numbers were like 87xxx & mine, 99476. So with that, I might be able to narrow the age gap to 1920-23.
    Thanks again, Dan [danmax]

    P.S. I don't believe that I.J. had anything to do with WW I or WW II so while a lot of Arm's Companies were supplying rifles for the military, I.J. provided guns for civilian use.
  11. danmax1

    danmax1 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Oakland County, MI.
    Okay, after reading the post from Bill, I noticed that he says that the name was changed to Champion Single barrel in 1917 so with matching serial numbers I'm confused. The barrel shows Champion [no single barrel included in name on barrel] & serial numbers all match but mine is a 1920's model so what was Bill talking about when he mentioned the name change.
    "Champion" name changed to "Champion Single Barrel".
    So was the name changed on advertizing or was the name change included on the Barrel? It seems like IJ overlapped name changes & dates of manufacturing.
    See where I'm going with this? Dan
  12. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,986
    I'm sure he was just talking about their advertisements; it would make zero sense to mark "single barrel" on a single barrel shotgun!
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Iver Johnson .32 cal cut away Oct 7, 2014
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Iver Johnsons Arms & Cycle Works Pistol Pat.June16.96.Aug25.96 Sep 24, 2014
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum 38 Iver-Johnson revolver Sep 20, 2014
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Iver Johnson help Sep 19, 2014
The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum Manufacture Year for Iver Johnson Safety Hammerless Sep 15, 2014

Share This Page