Scarce M1873 Johnson and Bye .32 short rimfire revolver, “Tycoon No. 2”

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Manufactured by Iver Johnson and Martin Bye circa 1873 to 1883 prior to the dissolution of their company, which then became Iver Johnson’s Arms Company in 1883 and renamed to Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works in 1884.

The partnership of Iver Johnson and Martin Bye intended to manufacture Pepperbox Revolvers. Instead, they manufactured a wide array of small personal weapons they could produce on their highly automated machinery. They were among the first to utilize such machinery and produced a wide diversity of objects as toy guns, air guns and metallic cartridge weapons, and almost no manual fitting was required.

Very early on they realized they didn’t have the capability to mass market their products. Martin Bye contacted his Civil War veteran friend John Lovell (J.P. Lovell Arms Co.) and in 1881 they signed a contract that all of their products were to be sold solely by J.P. Lovell Arms Company. This agreement was extended when the partnership of Johnson and Bye was dissolved in 1883.

Most all of the large mail order houses had to purchase the assorted company products through Lovell and most of the firearms Lovell sold were manufactured by Johnson & Bye or of the later companies of Iver Johnson. This weapon is classified as a classic American 19th century “suicide special” as they were inexpensive and had no triggerguard.

This particular example is circa 1878-1880 and retains 85% original blue on the barrel, 98% original chrome plate on the frame and 70% varnish on the walnut “bird head” grips. The cylinder pin end is broken off and the release lever is a bit rusted, so the cylinder is stuck. It will likely loosen up when soaked in a solvent—the mainspring tension feels fine. The cylinder pin is merely a short round piece of bar stock about 5mm in diameter—when missing, people often just use an old nut pick to replace them. The inexpensive handguns were potent at close range and were so small they were very easily concealed—popular with cowboys for boot guns, gamblers and ladies of the night!

NO FEDERAL FIREARMS LICENSE REQUIRED! Complimentary shipping to the lower 48 United States.

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