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Old January 9, 2011, 12:45 PM   #1
Slowhand
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Iver Johnson Revolver



I just added an Iver Johnson Safety Automatic to my collection.. I bought it as an antique made prior to 1899.



From my research I figure she is a second model, smokeless black powder. With a double top post barrel latch, flat leaf hammer spring and two cross pins in the lower frame, cylinder "free-wheeling" when at rest, plus the Owl is looking towards the muzzle end of the barrel.


Barrel length: 3 inches. 5 rounds cylinder capacity, Frame length: small frame 4 3/26 inches. The cylinder measures out at 0.93 of an inch and the chambers are 0.3350 inch in width. So it’s a .32 caliber.



The address on the barrel reads:

IVER JOHNSON’S ARMS & CYCLE WORKS. FITZBURG MASS USA
PATD APR 6 80 FEB15 87 MAY 10 87 DEC 20 93 PAT’S PENDING

There are two sets of numbers on this gun.



Underneath the grip on the left side is the number 37. There are no serial number prefix letters or other numbers there.



On the back of the top break barrel, underneath the base pin is the number 47.



The previous owner said that he shot it about once a month. I don’t plan on that. It has been in a plastic bag since Friday soaking to get cleaned up.

I’m of course looking for more information. Such as a parts listing, a schematic regarding disassembly. There’s of course no Owner’s Manual or PDF file available for these Old Gals. So I’m winging it here.

Not a top of the line piece but like several of my other recent additions Iver Johnson revolvers have a place in American History worthy of note.
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Old January 9, 2011, 03:52 PM   #2
SIGSHR
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Soaking in what? Not Hoppe's, I hope.
An excellent find. IIRC when the owl is looking the othe way that is a "Hammer the Hammer" action.
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Old January 9, 2011, 04:43 PM   #3
R.O
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nice I-J, curious on howmuch you payed, if the gun is post 1899 do you need a permit then?
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Old January 9, 2011, 04:44 PM   #4
joe poteat
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same gun different maker

I have the same gun but from harrington and richardson company in worcester mass usa. Dates are pat.oct4'87 may14&aug6'89 apr2 95 apr7 1896Appears about same shape as yours. Would make a nice pair. I would sell. Make me an offer. (If offering for sale here is not allowed i apologize to the moderators)
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Old January 9, 2011, 05:04 PM   #5
R.O
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hi Joe I purchased an H&R a few weeks ago ,second model 7th variation in .22LR ($200),I saw pictures from slowhand's nice gun collection and I think it wont be the last litlle gun we will see Bill Goforth and Jim Hauff are the experts on these guns,Bill's book on the I-J guns is fantastic
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Old January 9, 2011, 05:24 PM   #6
joe poteat
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Mine is a 32 cal. Have shot it a few times. Neat little gun.
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Old January 9, 2011, 06:28 PM   #7
Slowhand
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Just adding to the collection



Thanks for the comments. Today, I learned that she is a 1st Model, made in 1894 in the second batch for that year. With a single post barrel latch. Forums like this one are great sources of information.

That came from W. E. Goforth who wrote a book ""Iver Johnson's Arms and Cycle Works Handguns 1871-1878". Mr. Goforth should know He a noted expert on these little guns. I spent $40.00 on his book. I went for the paperback. The collectible or hard back was $250. About $50.00 less than what I paid for this Iver Johnson.

I went on a little shopping spree during X-Mas and added a few things to my collection for that period (1865-1899). Several of these are still in the clean, bag and soak phase of things. I use Ballistol, Rem-Oil, WD-40 and CLP for different aspects. I have a S&W 32 cal, Double Action, 2nd Model from 1880 coming later this week. I'm interested in comparing it with the Iver Johnson.

I have no desire to restore them to an original shape by rebuilding parts, making replacement parts or drastically altering by polishing or refinishing. The idea is to preserve the historical and aesthetitic value. So let’s say I’m rather careful.

A lot of patience and a slowhand go a long way.

Again ....Thanks for the comments.

Last edited by Slowhand; January 9, 2011 at 06:50 PM.
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Old January 10, 2011, 10:31 AM   #8
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Thanks for the story and pics.
That was my very first shootin' iron, in .32, also.
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Old January 10, 2011, 10:57 AM   #9
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top breaks are cool... I started collecting back powder cartridge era pocket guns a year & a half or so, & have about 3 dozen different brands, models, configurations, & chamberings

my guns range from 22, 30 Rim Fire, 32 S&W & 32 Rim Fire, & 38 S&W... some are solid frames, some are spur trigger single actions, & some are double action & DAO guns...

one of the things I find interesting, is all the inovation that happened during this time frame & all the different varieties out there... of the early Ivers, I really like the trigger safeties... Glocks got nothing on the 125 year old Ivers

this is one example I bought quite a while ago... an Iver Johnson "bicycle gun" ( original snubbie ) DAO in 32 S&W with the trigger safety...

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Old January 10, 2011, 11:11 AM   #10
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hi Slowhand , are the guns cleaner when out of the bag? and do you feel that the action of the gun has improved?
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Old January 10, 2011, 01:07 PM   #11
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Response to comments

Magnum Wheel Man

3 Dozen I thought I was nuts. I have been collecting various types of firearms for a few decades my self. I have 8 Modern Cartridge Revolvers or Semi-automatics. 16 Black powder cap and balls (C&Bs) and so far have only picked up 6 revolvers from the 1865 to Pre-1899 Part of my collection.

R.O.

Of course they are cleaner when they come out of the bags. The actions of most have improved but that depends on what shape they are in when I get them and just how far I go on a disassembly.

With the none shooters (Originals prior to 1899) it's safer or wiser to just do a basic cleaning on the exterior parts, like cylinders, barrels and exposed base, main pins or arbors. Then pop the grips off and the trigger guards. Just clean and oil the exposed internal parts. Removing excess fluids like Ballistol by swabs or compressed air. That's just my 2 cents on the subject.

Some of these Old Gals are not for the unwary traveller or those faint of heart when it comes to tinkering around with them. Those little S&Ws are like micro surgery. Plus some rather expensive tools are required to do the job.

The Colt Thunderer has a well earned reputation for being easily broken and complex in construction. Several Gun Smiths have bought them from customers, corrected a misplaced spring or something and resold them.

I have to give the same tip of the hat to the Colt Patersons. Those little gals are more like time pieces of that era rather than a black powder weapon. Loads of extra parts that got discarded in the later production of the Walkers, Dragoons, Colt Army and Navy Revolvers.

But it's all in good "fun".
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Old January 10, 2011, 02:34 PM   #12
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ya... I collect alot of different fire arms... ( my wife & I inherited her dad's collection, which I've managed to keep intact & build on ) so most would say we have a pretty extensive collection... on these guns, I try not do do more than remove side covers ( if they have them ), grips, & clean everything out & re-oil moving parts, personally, but I do have a retired buddy that's quite capable of "normal" repairs if needed... I may polish up nickel ( by hand, with some Flitz ) if that looks like it will improve the look some, I've been known to upgrade grips as I come across those ( I've bought antique S&W mediallion mother of Pearl grips in terrific shape, as well as a nice set of old S&W "red" grips, for a couple nice S&W's with more heavily worn standard grips )

I do shoot nearly all of mine... I have soft lead round ball loads in both 32 & 38 S&W, that I load with "impulse power" charges of Trail Boss, as well as light cast bullets I load with heavier charges for guns that prove themselves capable... I buy Aquila Colibri 22 ammo ( use light bullets & only priming compound ) for shooting black powder 22 revolvers... I also found a newer manufactured box of 32 short Rim Fire ( Navy Arms ) for my 32 Rim Fire guns ( though my S&W tip up had the hinge pin replaced & tightened, so I haven't been in a hurry to shoot that one... yet )...

I also had my local builder buddy make me a set of rifled chamber inserts for an old Hopkins & Allen spur trigger that looked unfired, but was chambered in 30 Rim Fire, out of a chunk of 22 barrel, so I could shoot that one as well with the colibris

I'm not wearing out any of them really, but like to have all of mine as functional guns, or to me, they could just be old paperweights...

I have one, an old Hopkins & Allen Safety Police factory snubbie DAO in 32 S&W, that easily shoots 2" groups at 30ft with one of my handloads ( that is really great, considering I'm shooting the gun, & I can't do much better with guns over 100 years newer )

they are pretty easy to collect, because of all the variations, & the normally low cost ( when compared to the bigger bore of this era )

I also have a couple of unusual, ( but not of particularly high value ) that I'm going to send to Ford's refinishing... one or two to re-nickel, & a couple to master blue
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Old January 10, 2011, 03:39 PM   #13
R.O
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my guns where safe queens first , but not any more I fired a few of my refinished first generation colt's ,cleaned them very carefull afterwards and nobody noticed the difference that they where used,slowhand I am very curious on the treatment you give your guns,there is always something to learn here
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Old January 10, 2011, 10:12 PM   #14
Slowhand
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It's all in the knowing

Mag Wheel Man

Sounds like you got it all down pat and are having fun. Original 32 & 38 S&W rounds and loads with a reliable piece. It's about knowing what you're doing that makes a big difference. If I were to ever get an urge to go but a few through one of these Old Gals that would be the way to go.

Some folks swear they shoot smokeless with no problems or damage to the piece. That's their thing. I can understand that too. A fellow I know in NY does it all the time. No problems so far for him or the weapon so far.

I give the Iver Johnson and Smith & Wesson Break Tops some credit they're interesting Old Gals.
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Old January 10, 2011, 10:37 PM   #15
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http://www.gun-parts.com/iverjohnson/ AND http://www.gunpartscorp.com/gander/p...asp?CatID=3868


I also have my great grandmothers saftey hammerless but its in .38 s&w . it was plated at one time and in very very very poor condition . I did a complete tear down and strip and found some home brew springs and some springs missing . It has got to be one of thee most difficult restorations i have done . I have resorted to makeing some springs , right now im hung up trying to repair the ejector cam and the trigger return spring . the trigger spring looks nothing like a spring but a tension plate , i have fashioned one out of a old feeler gauge , several failures . who knew a old relic would have to be so precise and finicky . Ihave gone back with a blue finish and plan to post some pictures when done and do some test fires . On a side note : any of my girl that i dont plan to shoot or wont for a while I use a bit of crc fogging oil , 'same i use on my customers marine engine for storage' . It has a parffin based wax as well as other great oils and lubes . its very heavy so i spray little as possible and while the gun is still apart and blow the excess out with shop air . even if the oil dries out the very very thin layer of wax is left over. I have never had a issue using this method
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Old January 11, 2011, 12:58 AM   #16
Slowhand
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I tinker around and do some basic restoration

Boat Monkey

That is one heck of a description of the restoration work and repair of an old relic.

I tinker around with these old guns and many of the others I own... but when in comes to some of the machine shop work I see and read about some people doing on these forums... my hats off to them. If I can't do it with a dremel, a hack saw, a jewelers file, a pair of pliers,or some other hand tool while it's locked in a small suction cup vise stuck on a table or counter top it's out of here and off to the professionals.

I sold the big house years ago when he kids grew up and moved out to live happily ever after on their own space on the planet. I bought a small house with no work shop or garage. The den and the guest room do catch a lot of stuff though.

I use Renaissance Wax on my non shooters. It's expensive stuff and a good auto wax would probably be just as good. CRC Fogging Oil sounds like some serious stuff.
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Old January 11, 2011, 08:26 AM   #17
bignasty
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iv got an iver just like yours i gave $25 for it from a guy i work with. looks like i got the better end of the deal. does anyone know where i can buy rounds for it? its a 32 and i read somthing further up about smokeless black powder.
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Old January 11, 2011, 08:41 AM   #18
Magnum Wheel Man
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Honestly BIG... I wouldn't shoot "factory" ammo in the "lower end" guns ( like the Ivers, H&A's, H&R's ) ( & yes, I do collect an aweful lot of those interesting guns ) the S&W's in good shape I don't have a problem saying they can shoot "factory" ammo... but all my "lower end" guns start with impulse power handloads with soft lead round balls, just to test for function... then if I feel the gun is solid & functional enough I move up to loads that equal "factory" loads...

you may think that you only have $25.00 into the gun, but IMO, it's not worth breaking or damaging a 100+ year old gun, no matter if you got a great deal on it or not...

BTW... I don't have an Iver that I'll shoot factory level ammo in ( I load about 3-4 load levels, & I do have Ivers that I shoot bullets in, just not factory level loads )
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Old January 11, 2011, 10:50 AM   #19
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you can find the 32 rounds but they are high , as much as 1.00 a shot . i have a few rounds that were original black powder , had to scrub some green off first but figured if they ignited at all they would be very low power and i was correct . some of the rounds you could see the hammer drop and wait an honest full second before the round went off .very funny to watch . I run a mobile marine service so i have nothing to do after the holidays but go gun crazy . i do alot of my work here in front of the computer . if you are trying to reproduce parts and you can find the correct picture of it then you can scale it down right close and take some measurments right off the computer screen . try it some time
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Old January 11, 2011, 05:24 PM   #20
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i by no mean want to damage it. after reading this im happy i saved it. ill have to look into some hand loading stuff just for fun
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Old January 11, 2011, 09:05 PM   #21
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never done it but maybe a grain or two of powder and paper wad just to make it go bang
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Old January 11, 2011, 10:07 PM   #22
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id like it to shoot alittle more than that just enough to punch a hole in some cardboard
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Old January 12, 2011, 07:40 AM   #23
Magnum Wheel Man
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BIG... I use Hornady Round Balls

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct...tnumber=786830

& a very small amount of trail boss to start with for test out loads for all my revolvers of this era in 32 S&W ( I might shoot 25 or so rounds like this through a gun to test for function )... then I have a load with a pinch more powder & the round balls, that shoot quite accurately so far in all guns that functioned well with the lighter load... then I move up to these bullets, if I want a bit more umph...

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct...ber=2046238376

...& if I remember right, the same amount of powder used in the hotter round ball load for the starting bullet load... then for only guns that I want to carry ( yes, I'm a bit excentric, I do on occasion CCW one of my 32's... a long ago shortened barrel S&W spur trigger single action ) I have a hotter bullet load still using Trailboss that closely mimics the factory ammo...

so... I actually only shoot factory level handloads in one or two of my 32's the just lighter bullet load is the load that shoots 2" - 30ft groups in my Safety Police DAO snubbie, but the round balls are also quite accurate as well

it's too bad there isn't someone out there doing commercial reloading, that could do up some of these lighter loads, because ( for example ) Mrs. Magnum really enjoys shooting these old guns as well, & the light loads are not much louder than a cap gun, & with little to no recoil, they are a blast to shoot ( I maybe should get another couple 100 cases, as I reload 300 at a time, & during nice weather, sometimes I can barely keep enough loaded )
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Old January 12, 2011, 10:59 AM   #24
joe poteat
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Just found my iver johnsons top break 32. In the gun cabinet and forgot about it til now.Dates are on the butt. reads " pat'd apr 6 96 feb 15 ?? may 10 87 mar13 8? 25 96 pats pendin? " shoots good. Paid less than a hundred for it fifteen years ago at a pawn shop.How old?
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Old January 13, 2011, 12:57 AM   #25
Slowhand
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Iver Jonson Date



Lets clean up the photo first.

Patent dates moved from top rib of barrel at start of 1899 production

Use a good screw driver (CAREFULLY!) to remove the left side grip panel.

Here is where you will begin. There will be a letter code stamped on the frame. For the small frame .32 s&w 5-shot the dates are; A (1909-1915);G(1915-1926)and J(1927-1940).

A = 1897; E = 1898; F = 1899. The easy way to remember: If it has an 'F' it FLUNKS the Antique Test.

There is some data for the small and large frame revolvers available in the following serial numbering system:

Small frame= 1911(A30201-A66700); 1919(G31001-G39500); 1920(G39501-G46300).

I'm emailing you some other info.

Last edited by Slowhand; January 13, 2011 at 01:09 AM. Reason: added info
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