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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have spent hours poring over Bill Goforth's book and looking for additional information on line, but cannot get a definitive answer. Have a 2nd Model, Small Frame, Safety Automatic, Hammer Version, revolver manufactured by Iver Johnson. The double top post barrel latch is present so it is clearly a 2nd Model. The proof marks on the barrel read:
IVER JOHNSONS ARMS & CYLCE WORKS FITCHBURG MASS. U.S.A.
PAT'D.APR.8.86FEB.15.87.MAY10.87.AUG.2596.PAT'S. PENDING

According to Goforth, page 64, these proof marks are from either an 1897 or 1898 revolver.

However, the left grip frame serial number is A 1139, and 1139 is located underneath the top strap of the barrel.

According to Goforth, pages 53 and 64, the Serial Number Production figures, a serial number of A 1139 would make it manufactured in 1900. But, if this were true, the proof marks on the barrel for a 1900 revolver would include the extra patent date of "MAR.13.88" This extra date is not present on my barrel. Also, the Serial Number Production figures on page 64 are footnoted "**" which means "Estimate"

It is clear from Goforth's book that Iver Johnson was a perfectionist who used unique barrel markings on a regular basis to distinguish different versions made over time. Isn't it highly unlikely IJ would take a barrel that is 2 or 3 years old and place it onto a newer 1900 frame?

Here is an educated guess: This was the most popular revolver at the time. If there were more than 50,000 revolvers made in 1897 ,then once serial numbers A 50001 to A 100000 were used, IJ started at A 0001 -- such that A 1139 was in fact made in 1897. I understand this contradicts the Goforth charts.

The outcome of a federal firearms prosecution hinges on the answer to this question. As you may know, any weapon manufactured in or before 1898 is considered an "antique" under federal law such that it fails to meet the definition of "firearm."

Any assistance on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Brian Kornbrath

p.s. My grandfather, Rudolph Kornbrath, was a very gifted gun engraver. Much of his work is on display in Cody, Wyoming.
 

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Welcome to TFF Brian.

The A prefix was used on the small frame second model hammer versions 1896-97 and then again in 1900, but the 1900 guns had the patent dates marked on the left side of barrel instead of on the barrel rib with the address, and also added patent date Mar 13, 88.

I consider the markings shown on pages 64-65 as examples of the many variances, and Bill added a note of caution on page 65.

The data listed for your model on pages 52 and 53 date your gun to 1897.

(These markings are not proofmarks: The USA does not have a national proofhouse where guns are tested as in most foreign countries.)
 

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A note on patent markings. Many manufacturers (not just of guns) used several patents in a given model, and those were marked on the product. They also used patents as sort of propaganda; the more patents the more impressive the product was to some buyers, so patent markings were used even though nothing from that patent was used in that particular product.

But sometimes space was limited, so when a new roll stamp was made, older patent dates or numbers would be dropped off and new ones added. That had the effect of showing the buyer that his purchase was modern and up to date, where old patent dates worked the other way.

Interestingly, Some people believed that a patent meant that the government had tested the product and would guarantee its performance. That idea became so prevalent that France passed a law requiring a "patented" marking be accompanied by the letters "SGDG", or Sans Garantie du Government" - without a government guarantee.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Greatly appreciate your assistance. The government moved to dismiss the firearms prosecution and cited the inherent uncertainty in determining whether this Iver Johnson revolver was made in or before 1898.

BJK
 

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Great job! I have heard that you are a fine lawyer. Also, you made a great choice of expert witnesses. I was consulting with Mr. Steve Howard (your firearms expert) regarding this issue. I shared with him some of my 2nd model IJ's with numbers that do not match pat. date locations and etc etc. Steve was very observant of every detail. www.gunsandammoexpert.com

Steve Howard gave me the good news this morning regarding the charges being dropped. We plan to celabrate by shooting some of my .32 S&W black powder loads through a 2nd Model IJ small frame safety automatic revolver in the serial number range of your client's revolver.

Justice has been done.:)
 

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Also, don't forget that those barrels were interchangeable, so a barrel from a newer or older gun could have been put on to replace a damaged one.

As to the prosecution, that should never have occurred. I am reasonably certain the government's own experts knew that all those tables and charts and lists are at best approximations, since few or no actual records are available. I suppose some ambitious US attorney, probably trying to make points with an anti-gun AG, decided to take it to court.

FWIW, as a youngster I used to drool over pictures of your grandfather's work and wish I could own just one of those beautiful guns. I never have.

Jim
 
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