Iver Johnson Top Break 32

Discussion in 'Revolver Handguns' started by IDVague, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. IDVague

    IDVague New Member

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    This old gun has been laying around on my shelf for about 20 years and I never have gotten a fix on its age or value (lack of?). It was nickel plated at one time, but that's almost all gone and the cylinder is rough with rust on the outside. It has a low 4-digit serial number (8xxx) on the bottom of the trigger guard. It has black hard rubber grips with the owl head facing the butt. Does anyone know roughly how old this gun is, and can anyone explain the significance of the orientation of the owl head?
     
  2. RUT

    RUT New Member Supporter

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    I have one just like it (or close), but never noted the orientation of the owl's head. One of these days I'll dig it out and check. :)
     

  3. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Well-Known Member

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    I had one just like it. I traded it years ago. I don't remember what I got for it. There is one over at Cabelas in Grand Junction that is chambered for 38 smith and wesson. They have $199.00 marked on it. It is in maybe 60% condition.
     
  4. IDVague

    IDVague New Member

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    I'm glad to see there are a few folks who recognize this gun from my description. Do any of you have a source online for determining the manufacture date of this gun by the serial number? So far I've come up empty.
     
  5. RUT

    RUT New Member Supporter

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    Ok, I just dug my trusty .32 out of the non-gun safe, and it has a longer serial# than yours. (278xx) It's a nickel plated top-break that I've had since the early 60s, and was given to me by the father of one of my former heart throbs. It's about as anemic as it gets in the knock down power dept. In fact, I once shot at the metal lid of a trash can from about 10 feet and it literally bounced off. Granted, the ammo was old, so it might not be so bad with new ammo. (which I do have) And yes, the owl is looking toward the butt, but it looks ok to me.

    It's hard to date these guns, but I suspect mine came from the 30s or so. Funny thing, I drove tractor-trailer my first few years out of college (also early 60s) and the Iver Johnson Co. was one of my pick-ups when they were still in Fitchburg, MA. I suspect they'll never be worth anything, but I hold on to this one for nostalgia purposes. :)
     
  6. cmhill

    cmhill New Member

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    pictures would be nice to help identify it, i sold one in store about a month or so back but mine was not nickle, ill look back on the information concerning the serial number i do recall it was manufactured around 1896 roughly
     
  7. IDVague

    IDVague New Member

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    On the butt of my gun I can barely make out a date that looks to be Sept. of '04. That rules out a 19th century manufacture date for mine, but I'd be surprised if it turns out to be less than 100 years old.
     
  8. cmhill

    cmhill New Member

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    judging by the 04 i would say its a Second Model safety automatic hammer this was available in .22 rimfire, .32 centerfire, or .38 centerfire cal., 5 or 7 shot, 3 or 3 1/4 in. barrel, nickel (standard) or blue finish, hard rubber grips with owl's head at top, double top post latch, flat leaf hammer spring, two cross pins in lower frame, uses hammer the hammer action, , 12-17 1/4 oz. Mfg. 1896-1908. just a guess. blue book value at 100% is 275.00 80% is 175.00 50% is 120.00 30% 90.00.
     
  9. IDVague

    IDVague New Member

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    cmhill, that may be "just a guess" as you say, but it sounds like a very educated guess. You are pretty much dead on with the description. Pardon my ignorance though, on what you mean by "cross pins". This gun has a total of 4 pins that go all the way through the frame with one appearing to be a slightly larger diameter, two others that appear to be equal in size and a fourth that is smallest of all. Measuring from the front of the cylinder, the barrel is 3-1/4" and it is a 5-shot .32 centerfire. As for the value, I doubt that this one would even qualify as a 30% gun, but since I only paid $20 I guess it was still a good buy. Thanks for the knowledge, I appreciate it.
     
  10. tomgodd

    tomgodd Active Member

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    I have a Iver Johnson 38S&W. It looks much klike you guys said yours does. I will post a pic of it a soon as I get some just so you guys can compare.
     
  11. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Well-Known Member

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    For $20 you can't go wrong. Heck if it didn't shoot it would still be cool as a conversation peice.
     
  12. IDVague

    IDVague New Member

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    1st attempt at photo upload

    If this works, the pics are still of low quality, so if it doesn't you didn't miss much. This the gun in question and the sorry state it finds itself in.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. saviorslegacy

    saviorslegacy New Member

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    That poor revolver needs some love. Do you plan on fixing her up?
     
  14. IDVague

    IDVague New Member

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    She's been merely a conversation piece so far, but I always thought it could be a possibility. The cylinder would probably need to be replaced as this one is likely too far gone. If I found another cylinder at the right price, I might invest some time and money into it.
     
  15. IDVague

    IDVague New Member

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    Update

    I just discovered that my Iver Johnson .32 is in fact a .38 S&W caliber. Almost 20 years ago when I picked it up it had a tag on the trigger guard that said "Iver J. 32 cal." and I never questioned it or looked very close until today. In doing some research on another forum, I found that the 5-shot cylinder like mine was always referred to as a .38 while the .32 was a 6-shot. I opened it and looked and suddenly it was obvious. Just to confirm I reached for some handy .38 Spl. brass and sure enough it slid right in. Bottomed out, of course, but this confirmed that it is indeed a .38 cal. I also found out that I have a 3rd model IJ Top Break revolver, DOM 1909. The 3rd model was designed for smokeless cartridges, but it will remain silent still, unless it is refurbished and then given the OK by at least one good gunsmith.