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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
Very confusing topic but it seemed like a fun discussion for me to start off with:) I have an Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works single shot 12ga that i am trying to put a date on..I would dare to call it a "Top Snap single gun" It has a serial number of J13948. Using the Goforth formula, having one letter equals a manufacture of 1920-1929. Here is what is perplexing....Mr Goforth always used the term "suffix" when refering to the letter. This particular number is a prefix...I have found also that the letter supposably correlates to a letter in "FITCHBURG" but in my case there is no J in fitchburg, I dont think?? To complicate things as compared to my Iver Johnson arms and cycle works 55A target, with a serial number that is prefixed with an "H" ,which fits with fitchburg aspect, but not the Goforth formula, confuses even more because it was produced from the 60's to the 70's. Here are some pics, I did the best i could of trying to capture key elements of the gun. Any thing more that i can learn about this would help me tremendously
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sorry for the huge pics...im not very tech saavy.
 

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....I have found also that the letter supposably correlates to a letter in "FITCHBURG" but in my case there is no J in fitchburg, I dont think??
Joshua,

Interesting shotgun you have there. Sorry I can't help with the date of your shotgun but I will try to help with reference to the word "Fitchburg" used in serial numbers by Iver Johnson. Serial "numbers" that used all letters were based on the name of the city the factory was located in...Fitchburg, MA.

The scheme was: F=1, I=2, T=3, C=4, H=5, B=6, U=7, R=8, G=9 and an"X" was used for the 0. For example: A shotgun with the letters "GHRXF" would translate to 95801. This system was used from 1940 until shotgun production ceased in 1957.

Hope this helps,

Sprint
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The scheme was: F=1, I=2, T=3, C=4, H=5, B=6, U=7, R=8, G=9 and an"X" was used for the 0. For example: A shotgun with the letters "GHRXF" would translate to 95801. This system was used from 1940 until shotgun production ceased in 1957.

Hope this helps,

Sprint[/QUOTE]

You are correct sprint. So where does the "J" come into play? That to me is the confusing part...There are also two very pronounces dots before the serial number, im not sure if that holds any bearing on anything or not.
 

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You are correct sprint. So where does the "J" come into play? That to me is the confusing part...There are also two very pronounces dots before the serial number, im not sure if that holds any bearing on anything or not.
The "J" has nothing to do with the Fitchburg scheme. It is a prefix to the numerical serial number. I think you are right about the dots maybe meaning something but my memory fails to come up with the answer.

Sprint
 

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Do to the inherent nature of iver johnson, I highly doubt that all questions can be answered about them, thats what makes this topic so interesting to me. I have only seen one other shotgun exactly like the one i pictured. on youtube...I have tried messaging the guys that posted the video so far with no response.
 

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Do to the inherent nature of iver johnson, I highly doubt that all questions can be answered about them, thats what makes this topic so interesting to me. I have only seen one other shotgun exactly like the one i pictured. on youtube...I have tried messaging the guys that posted the video so far with no response.
I know what you mean about being unable to get answers to the questions. I worked at Iver Johnson's for about 6 years during the 1950's, 5 of them as foreman of the assembly department. IJ made so many models and variations of each that it can be mind boggling. Bill Goforth was a friend and he did a great job on the history of Iver Johnson in his two books.

Your shotgun model is rarely seen and would like to have the link to the youtube post if possible.

Sprint
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Your shotgun model is rarely seen and would like to have the link to the youtube post if possible.



I cant tell if it is a "champion", a "top snap" or what the serial number is but it holds all the same characteristics of the gun that I posted has. And its the only other one like that that i have seen
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
That is a possibility john. Is there a pic of this gun in that book? I only ask because EVERY champion i have seen actually says champion on it. that is what kinda throws me off about this one. there is no branding on it exept the typical iver johnson info. in addition were there letters in the serial number during that time frame? I have read champion was the "lesser" of the top snap models which led me to believe this would be just a "top snap" or just "single gun". Im not sure... correct me if im wrong.
 

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That is a possibility john. Is there a pic of this gun in that book? I only ask because EVERY champion i have seen actually says champion on it. that is what kinda throws me off about this one. there is no branding on it exept the typical iver johnson info. in addition were there letters in the serial number during that time frame? I have read champion was the "lesser" of the top snap models which led me to believe this would be just a "top snap" or just "single gun". Im not sure... correct me if im wrong.
I have an original 1902 Iver Johnson Catalog that does not show a picture of the gun but, it has a picture of the parts and it describes the gun as the Iver Johnson Top Snap Automatic Ejector single Gun. It clearly shows the joint bolt assembly on your shotgun.
I have numerous examples of this model and none of them have letters in the serial number.
These guns also have variations such as different trigger guards, different joint bolt assemblies, different markings on the frames and the barrels.
I believe your right when you say the Champion was the lesser of the Top Snap Models but, when compared side by side I can't find a difference.
It may just be a slight difference in the grade of wood used or the finish applied, I'm not sure. The answer may be lost in time.
Hope this helps.
 

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Good luck with that ... Iver Johnson died in 1895, so I don't think he is accepting any dates at this juncture of history. But if he were, it would probably take a fine wine and a high end restaurant to lure the Norwegian born Johnson. Sorry ... When I read the title I just had to go there.;):p:D
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It may just be a slight difference in the grade of wood used or the finish applied, I'm not sure. The answer may be lost in time
yes indeed. that is why this particular gun interests me so, everytime one question gets answered three more pops up haha. im really loving all the input im getting, there is a lot of knowledge floating around this forum!
 

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That is a possibility john. Is there a pic of this gun in that book? I only ask because EVERY champion i have seen actually says champion on it. that is what kinda throws me off about this one. there is no branding on it exept the typical iver johnson info. in addition were there letters in the serial number during that time frame? I have read champion was the "lesser" of the top snap models which led me to believe this would be just a "top snap" or just "single gun". Im not sure... correct me if im wrong.
Sadly there isn't a picture. I think Bill Goforth had more of an interest in Iver Johnson handguns than he did the long guns. I'll have to take a look through my old catalogs tonight and see what I can find.
 

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O.K. I did some digging through my older catalogs and it's hit or miss on Iver Johnson referring to this basic style as "Champion". This image is from a 1900/1901 catalog and just refers to it as a "Top-Snap Single Gun". These early models had a sheetmetal trigger guard held on with two screws and a hinge bolt instead of the push out hinge pin like the OP's gun. I have one of these early versions (#'s matching) with top of the barrel marked "Iver Johnson PATTS APPLD FOR"

Next two images are from a 1904 brochure and refers to it as "Champion Single Gun, Top Snap". It's hard to make out but it shows the larger button head of the push out hinge pin and the more ornate hook and rear screw trigger guard like we're used to seeing on the later Model 36, 39, etc... top lever shotguns.

1901 top snap.jpg



1904 top snap.jpg
View attachment 175166
 
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