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Old May 20, 2010, 08:07 AM   #1
Magnum Wheel Man
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Meriden Firearms top breaks... anyone familiar with the company ???

a while back I bought an engraved 38 S&W Secret Service Special, that the seller said was made by Iver Johnson ( I have a 32 SSS, that was made by Iver, but I understand these were made by various companys, often of very marginal quality, for one guy who sold them under that name ) after looking over the gun after I recieved it, I'm pretty sure it's not an Iver Johnson... & I am / was assuming it was Spanish made... however I'm watching a Meriden 38 top break right now, & while looking over the pictures, I'm seeing alot of similarities to my SSS... I'm curious now if Meriden could have made my SSS, or if Meriden imported Spanish guns with their name on them... the gun functions fine, albeit a bit loosely, & has a nyloc nut on the safety ( most of the SSS had safetys ) which I'll probably have to machine a part that matches the one on my 32

here is a pic of my SSS ( I bought it very cheaply, because of the condition, & am looking at doing some resto work on it )... note the crown shaped front sight, & how the cylinder attaches, which are not Iver Johnson traights... the Meriden Revolver I'm looking at shares those traights so if this was made in Spain, then likely the other Meriden was as well ??? or it's possible my assumption that my SSS was Spanish made was wrong, & it was made by Meriden ??? so far, I don't have any Meriden revolvers, & don't know any company history

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File Type: jpg engraved SSS 1.jpg (43.6 KB, 734 views)
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Last edited by Magnum Wheel Man; May 20, 2010 at 08:56 AM.
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Old May 20, 2010, 08:38 AM   #2
Hawg
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That's not an Iver Johnson. IJ was a legitimate firearms co. that made their own guns. Meriden was started up by Sears in 1895 and was dropped in 1918.
That's a cheap Spanish made pistol and I'll shoot a lot of stuff that would make most folks cringe but I don't think I'd shoot that.
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Old May 20, 2010, 08:47 AM   #3
Magnum Wheel Man
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so... this gun ( a Meriden) was likely a spanish made gun as well ???

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=169496813

just trying to learn here...

... & I'll likely get the SSS shootable with my round ball & Trailboss loads... but it certinly won't see anything like factory loads
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Old May 20, 2010, 09:03 AM   #4
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Maybe yours is a Meridan. I don't claim to be an expert on them. Meriden's weren't made in Spain.
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Old May 20, 2010, 11:06 AM   #5
PetahW
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Let google be your friend.

"The Meriden Firearms Company of Meriden, Connecticut, USA manufactured small arms from 1895 to 1918. Meriden manufactured twenty varieties of hammer and hammerless revolvers with an output of 100 guns a day in 1906. In addition to pistols the company manufactured several types of shotguns and rifles.

The Meriden Firearms Company was formed when Sears, Roebuck & Co. purchased the Andrew Fyrberg & Sons firearms manufacturing plant and moved the plant and machinery to Meriden, Connecticut, 1905 in the Malleable Iron Company's plant. The company started manufacturing firearms mid 1905. They made guns mostly for mail order companies (Montgomery Ward and Sears). Around 1906 Sears acquired a Savage-held patent for the Model 15 slide-action .22 rifle that was not introduced until 1913. In 1918 Sears announced that the Meriden Firearms Company would discontinue the manufacture of sporting firearms."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

RE: Iver Johnson

"In 1871, Iver Johnson joined Martin Bye to form the Johnson Bye & Company, merging his own (1841-1895) and Martin Bye's gunsmithing operations. Not much is known about Martin Bye, as there is very little documented information about his life. Iver Johnson is documented as having immigrated to Worcester, Massachusetts from Norway in 1863 at the height of the American Civil War, a time when gunsmithing was a welcome skill in the country. His early work involved not only gunsmithing locally in Worcester, MA, but it also included providing designs and work to other firearms companies (notable Allen & Wheelock for whom he made so-called "pepperbox" pistols).

Bye and Johnson filed jointly for and were awarded multiple patents together, mostly related to firearms designs, beginning in 1876. The company’s name changed to Iver Johnson & Company in 1883 upon Johnson's purchase of Bye's interest in the firm.

The company's name changed again to Iver Johnson's Arms & Cycle Works in 1891, when the company relocated to Fitchburg, Massachusetts, (sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Fitzburg") in order to have better and larger manufacturing facilities.

Iver Johnson died in 1895, and his sons took over the business.
Frederick (born 10/2/1871), John (born 6/26/1876), and Walter (birthdate unknown), had vastly different levels of involvement in the company ranging from executive leadership to barely any involvement at all.

They shepherded the company through a phase of expansion, as bicycle operations grew, then converted to motorcycle manufacturing and sales.
They also saw the growth of the firearms business and the eventual restructuring of the company to focus on firearms and related business as they divested non-firearms concerns, such as the motorcycle business, in the face of growing firearms demand, World War I's armaments industry expansion, and other factors.
As family ownership waned and outside investment via publicly traded stock and mergers/acquisitions/partnerships took hold, the company changed ownership and moved several times during its operation.
The company eventually dropped "Cycle Works" from its moniker when that part of the business was shut down.
The business successfully weathered the Great Depression (in part thanks to higher rates of armed robbery crimes, which helped maintain demand for personal firearms) and was buoyed by the dramatic increase in the market for arms leading up to and during World War II.
As a result of changes in ownership, the company had the first of two major relocations in 1971 when it moved to New Jersey.
It moved again to Jacksonville, Arkansas, and was jointly owned by Lynn Lloyd and Lou Imperato, who also owned the Henry brand name, before it finally ceased trading under its own name in 1993, at which time it was owned by American Military Arms Corp (AMAC)."


.
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Old May 23, 2010, 09:29 AM   #6
gyvel
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Goforth's book "Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works Handguns 1871-1978" states that the "Secret Service" revolvers were made by Iver Johnson in two distinct variations, one with and one without the safety device, and, in addition, they were also made by Meriden and Harrington & Richardson.

The illustration in his book shows the front sight to be of identical shape to the one on your gun. My guess is that you have a Meriden made gun.
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Old May 23, 2010, 09:33 AM   #7
gyvel
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Quote:
so... this gun ( a Meriden) was likely a spanish made gun as well ???
The gun you are looking at on Gunbroker is a Meriden made gun. "A. J. Aubrey" was a brand name used by Sears & Roebuck on Meriden made guns. You can see many of them illustrated in the Gun Digest reprints of old Sears catalogues from around the turn of the century.

"A. J. Aubrey" was a name used by Sears like "Ted Williams" and "J. C, Higgins."

Edit: A. J. Aubrey was apparently the president of Meriden Firearms, and not, as in the case of J. C. Higgins, an employee of Sears & Roebuck.

Last edited by gyvel; May 23, 2010 at 09:41 AM.
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Old May 23, 2010, 03:43 PM   #8
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thanks for the info...
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Old May 23, 2010, 03:45 PM   #9
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Probably not worth the investment to restore.
Make a frame, hang on wall.
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Old February 12, 2011, 11:34 AM   #10
miata55
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I don't know what you have decided to do with the Meriden .38 (it definitely is a Meriden) but if you ever decide to part with it I would be MOST interested in discussing it with you.
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Old February 13, 2011, 12:15 PM   #11
Magnum Wheel Man
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I did buy this gun... it does function ( I have shot it with my pop gun 38 S&W test loads ) the built in safety does not function... I have incuded it in my collection of black powder era revolvers, but I'm not overly worried about having to keep it, & could part with it if properly "motivated" selling / shipping would have to either be face to face, or through an FFL, as I'm quite sure it's newer than 1898...
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Old February 13, 2011, 08:45 PM   #12
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There was also a Spanish made Secret Service Special made in the same time period. If I remember correctly there were 4 makers that used the name, Meriden, Iver Johnson, Hopkins and Allen and an unknown Spanish version.
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Old August 15, 2011, 12:59 PM   #13
miata55
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First of all, I am still interested in parting you and your revolver if you might be persuaded.

Secondly, the revolver IS a Meriden. Although Meriden did make a Secret Service 38 S&W model, they made them for a dealer in Chigago (as did Iver Johnson, H&R, etc) and did not put their names on it. Instead Meriden stamped the top of the barrel where their name is supposed to be with the following - "For 38 Smith and Wesson CTGS". The only issue now is - the Meriden (and all the others made for this dealer) Secret Service model was a hammerless model. What you have is in actuality a Meriden engraved model that was offered along with the blued one, a nickle plated one, and a nickle plated engraved one - any of which you could order in the .32 and .38 S&W versions. That pesky nut you have on the left side of the frame is NOT a safety - someone simply replaced the normal screw with that piece. A SECRET SERVICE model by Meriden had the safety on the other (right) side of the frame and it had the following three lines stamped into it - (top line) PAT (next line) May 22 (next line) 1917. Oh yeah, one last thing, it is obvious that even though yours has the Secret Service Special stamped into the barrel on the left side, this was most simply and likely a presentation type model to someone at the Chicago store that was buying all those OTHER manufacturers guns since they (Meriden) already made the nickle plated engraved model for the general public.

I hope this helps you in your discovery of whether or not to restore. Like I said before, should you decide to part with it - let me know - and one other thing - it is C&R eligible according to the BATF. I know, I already called and checked and I won one VERY similar already (see photo).
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File Type: jpg Meriden engraved.JPG (70.1 KB, 29 views)
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Last edited by miata55; August 15, 2011 at 02:20 PM.
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