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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I recently inherited an old Iver Johnson revolver. I'm NOT concerned with it's value because it's a family heirloom. My great, great, great uncle who carried it was the marshall of Forsyth, MO in 1890 & the Taney county, MO. sheriff from 1892 - 1896 & 1898 - 1902. He was also Missouri State Representative from 1918 - 1920. There's a connection with this piece to his brothers who were known Baldknobbers! I am putting it in a shadow box and having a plaque made but I can't find out some specifics on the handgun.

I purchased an IVJ e-book in hopes of nailing down the manufacture date. Bill / William E. Goforth is given credit in the book as the information source and I have since discovered that he is no longer with us, God bless his soul. I have read numerous online posts about identifying these guns as well as gone over the information in the book numerous times but it has yet to give up its secret.

What I know about it -

1. It is double action with an exposed hammer, therefore is not a hammerless model.

2. It's a double latch top break safety automatic and therefore not a first model.

3. The barrel is 5 inches long.

4. It holds 6 shells but .32 S&W long/ .32 Special are too long to fit the cylinder.

5. It has the black plastic grips and the owl's head is oriented towards the side not the front (third model style).

6. It has the oversized/ long grips that cover the bottom of the strap so I had to remove them to find the letter designation.

7. My great, great grandmother slept with it under her pillow for many years and so the finish is pretty rough and I can't really say if it's nikel or blued and I don't want to scrub the nice patina away. This doesn't help identify it anyway.

8. It has the third model 1918-1941 type of patent stamp on the butt strap (PAT. NOV. 17.08 PAT'S PENDING) written in two lines.

9. It has four crosspins through the frame identifying it as a third model.

10. It has a coil spring through the handle frame not leaf type springs, again identifying it as a third model.

11. It does not have anything stamped on the side of the barrel, only on the top band and it has the "adornments" or the stars not the dashes.
* IVER JOHNSONS ARMS & CYCLE WORKS *
* FITCHBURG, MASS U.S.A. *

So it appears in all ways to be a third model and you must be wondering what the problem is. Well the serial number does not match anything on record. It is H 68361 and only the .38 hammer model had the H designation! But it will NOT hold a .38 shell, however 68361 would put its creation towards the middle of 1925 and he died in May of 1926 so that's about right. No matter what, it could not have been manufactured after his death. Could it be a special configuration? I know that it was presented either to him or his family when he died. This is a large frame version and to my understanding all third model 6 shot revolvers were S&W long. What am I missing here? I only need to know the year so I can have the plaque finished. This remains a mystery!
 

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The e-book version of Bill's book may be the original edition. In the last version published 2006 he reversed his original opinion that the ".32 Special" large frame had separate serial numbers, and states he had subsequently encountered many serial numbered in the same series as the .38, so your gun was made in 1925.

However, it definitely should chamber .32 S&W Longs: By "too long" do you maybe mean they won't chamber completely? If the gun has been fired with the short .32 S&W ammo, there might just be powder residue that needs to be cleaned out of chambers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the swift answer hrf! The book I have was written by Gerard Henrotin copyright 2010 and is from HL Publishing out of Belgium but it cites Goforth as the source.

I mean too long period, the cylinder can not turn because the entire nose of the bullets are sticking past the end. The chambers are clean, no obstructions there. The brass alone are the length of the cylinder. The nose of the bullet protrudes about 1/4" past where the end of the brass is crimped around the bullet. Make sense? It's definetely chambered for .32 short but has all of the markings, etc. of the third model .32 long. A .32 long round is 1 5/8" from nose to tail but this cylinder is only 1.25" I don't have any regular .32 short to measure. So according to a book by Goforth guns designated with H that were not in .38 Special were made in 1925? That was all I really needed to know. I guess it is a sort of oddity then. Maybe the factory goofed when they stamped the serial number sequence.
 

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I mean too long period, the cylinder can not turn because the entire nose of the bullets are sticking past the end. The chambers are clean, no obstructions there. The brass alone are the length of the cylinder. The nose of the bullet protrudes about 1/4" past where the end of the brass is crimped around the bullet. Make sense? It's definetely chambered for .32 short but has all of the markings, etc. of the third model .32 long. A .32 long round is 1 5/8" from nose to tail but this cylinder is only 1.25"
Something's wrong with your ammo:

I don't have an example to measure, but according to Cartridges of the World, dimensions of the .32 S&W Long are case length .93 and loaded length 1.27.

Loaded length of the current .32 H&R Magnum is only 1.35

What's the headstamp on your cartridges?

Discovered I had a .32 Long Colt round, which has same length dimensions as .32 S&W Long:

As shown, it's no where near 1-5/8" long, and the dimensions you list are close to those of .30 Carbine ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I got the bullets from a friend who dug them out of a barrel of old shells. On the bottom they say U.S. C. CO. 32 W.C.F. I was wondering myself if they were the wrong size but my friend is an old military man and I assumed he had it right. I found this using that info and it appears they are actually black powder centerfire, something I've never heard of before. These are exactly what I have minus the box -

http://www.gunauction.com/search/displayitem.cfm?itemnum=6580934
 

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I got the bullets from a friend who dug them out of a barrel of old shells. On the bottom they say U.S. C. CO. 32 W.C.F. I was wondering myself if they were the wrong size but my friend is an old military man and I assumed he had it right. I found this using that info and it appears they are actually black powder centerfire, something I've never heard of before. These are exactly what I have minus the box -

http://www.gunauction.com/search/displayitem.cfm?itemnum=6580934
Those are black powder .32-20 (aka .32 WCF) rifle rounds, and you must have not actually inserted them in the cylinder, as they have a slight bottle neck and rear portion is too large for a .32 S&W chamber.

Tell him to dig again and find you some .32 S&W ammo!
 

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I got the bullets from a friend who dug them out of a barrel of old shells. On the bottom they say U.S. C. CO. 32 W.C.F. I was wondering myself if they were the wrong size but my friend is an old military man and I assumed he had it right. I found this using that info and it appears they are actually black powder centerfire, something I've never heard of before. These are exactly what I have minus the box -

http://www.gunauction.com/search/displayitem.cfm?itemnum=6580934
Guy, you are very lucky that the 32 WCF wouldn't chamber, Iver Johnson made a good gun, but not that good.:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Guy, you are very lucky that the 32 WCF wouldn't chamber, Iver Johnson made a good gun, but not that good.:eek:
I never had any intentions of ever firing this gun. The bullets are soley for display purpose as I'm mounting this antique in a shadow box. thanks for your concern though. ;)
 
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