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For Sale/Trade: RARE 1896 Iver Johnson Safety Automatic Hammerless 1st Model, 2nd Variation, Only year made with these features! --$190 OBO--

$ 190
Private Party
Listings by this user
Listed On:
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Listed In:
Antique Firearms
Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska - Map

Iver Johnson Safety Automatic DA Revolver --Rare Circa 1896 1st Model, 2nd variation--

Very collect-able and 'hard-to-find' 1st model 2nd variation 'Safety Automatic Hammerless' revolver. Patent dates are on top of the barrel, newest patent date is 1893 and the serial is 'B xxxxx', showing that it is from 1896. This revolver in .32 S&W from Iver Johnson Bicycle and Gun Works has both the first model's single top post with side latch but also has the 'glock style' trigger safety (that was suppose to only be on the second model according to some people -- wikipedia for instance). The first model was made in 1895 and 1896 only. The first variation was similar, but had no trigger safety and had a similar but slightly different mechanism inside for activating the transfer bar. The second version is the one you see, and is nearly the same but with the addition of the trigger safety. The first variation was only made in 1895 and the second variation was only made in 1896.

Ask Bill Goeforth, the worlds leading expert on vintage/antique Iver Johnsons, and he will tell you that "This is an early example of an Iver Johnson's Arms and Cycle Works .32 caliber Safety Hammerless, Automatic, Double-Action Revolver. This particular gun is called a Model 1, First Model, 2nd Variation. It has the early style Single Top Latch design (latch is located only on the left side) with its serial number in the B prefix range which indicates it was manufactured in the year 1896. These were only produced for a short time before the Model 2 was introduced with the double latch design in 1897. "

The barrel measures 5" with the barrel clearly marked:
PAT'D APR. 6.86. FEB.15.87. DEC.26.93. PAT'S PENDING

The finish is blueing overall with what I believe are a case colored trigger guard, case colored trigger, case colored side latch and case colored hammer shroud. What I think is case colors are somewhat weak on the trigger, but stronger on the rest. Believe it or not, the blued finish is actually rarer than the nickle finish. Contrary to what we often think of today, a blued finish was actually more expensive back then because it required extensive polishing to look acceptable. The vast majority of the I.J. revolvers back then were nickle plated because the process automatically covered up imperfections and made an acceptably smooth and shiny looking weapon with virtually no labor hours wasted on actually polishing it! Given how rather thick these nickle platings were and the poor adhesion properties cheap plating had back then, the nickle models you see today are often covered with black pits where nickle is missing and many have nickle still flaking off. This is made worse when you see the yellow brown guck around the edges of these pits and flakes that is often the tell-tale sign that someone cleaned/soaked it in a gun cleaner that has ammonia, like Hoppes No. 9 (great for everything else, but really really bad for nickle). Even blued guns with NO finish left often look better than the majority of the old nickle plated ones.

This revolver has the ORIGINAL checkered hard rubber grips featuring the Iver Johnson Owl's Head logo, these grips are in better shape than most. They are the correct grips with foreward facing owls, not the later ones. Left hard rubber grip is excellent with no chips, cracks, or repairs, Right has minor chip in less noticible spot and has had a small repair which doesn't look that bad (Its surprisingly easy to look over/miss. I've had several 'gun' people fondle and examine it without noticing it).

Action works perfectly. Latch is tight and locks barrel to the frame with very little play or wiggle. (If it wasn't an antique and meant for black powder cartridges I would shoot it myself) Please note that even though 'semi-smokeless' and 'smokeless' powder had recently been invented, it did not become widely used untill after 1910 (even later in shotguns). Thus, given how old these revolvers (both first and second models) are, Iver Johnson produced these revolvers specifically for black powder and they are not designed to withstand the pressures of modern ammunition. Also given the fact that this was a black powder gun, the bore could be a lot worse, some semblance of rifling is left, there is a little medium and some light pitting inside it, but I have definitely seen a lot of barrels that were much worse off than this one. The outside of the gun is in very nice shape, not much blue left, but very ittle pitting and what there is is pretty light.

It's not very often anybody comes across an Iver Johnson revolver in this condition with a definitive antique pre-1898 serial number -- and is guaranteed as such by virtue of being a first model which were only made 1895 and 1896. (many of the I.J.s sold as antiques are not legitimate, for instance the two largest years of production for the safety hammerless was 1902 and 1903, and the second model was made from 1897-1908 making it difficult to impossible to differentiate the 1897 & 1898 made second models that are legit antiques from the 1899-1908 made second models that are illegal to sell as an antique).

This is a nice conversation piece since Glock is trying/has tried to patent its trigger safety several times claiming that they invented the concept and some other modern pistols have copied it -- yet Iver Johnson built this feature into cheap pocket size revolvers well over a century ago! This particular pistol being one of the earliest examples of any gun with this trigger safety concept, and this is THE earliest one of any of I.J.'s "Safety" models with a trigger safety. This I.J. "Safety" model is to be considered the earliest pistol of "modern" style/design which used a trigger safety, only two other pistol models using such a safety predate it -- both were made by I.J. also, but aren't considered "modern" because they don't feature a transfer bar system (I.J. called it the "hammer the hammer" system back then). While the engineering/design might be considered "modern", this revolver is still an antique since it was made in 1896, a couple years before the cutoff for antiques.

I am asking $190 OBO

Like I said, this revolver is fairly collectible and is considered an 'antique' because of its age, since it was made before 1898. The .32 S&W -called .32 S&W short by some- is still made today in limited batches, but ---AND I HAVE TO STRESS THIS--- this modern ammo is NOT safe to fire in this gun (this gun was from back when they still used black powder in the .32 S&W; the same shape/size of cartridge, but a whole different animal entirely on the inside). Given its age and collect-ability, this one is probably better off just being used to start a conversation or to simply admire while it sits in a case on your wall or as a paperweight on your desk--but it should do a good job of it!

Will trade for: