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  #1  
Old 09-13-2020, 04:35 PM
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Default Unidentified Revolver

Can anyone help identify this revolver? No manufacturer marks or serial number we can find.
Any help as to who, when and where will be greatly appreciated.
FLF
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Old 09-13-2020, 04:51 PM
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Default American Bulldog

Hey FLF,
That's an American Bulldog manufactured by Iver Johnson just after the Johnson & Bye partnership ended.

They were introduced in about 1883 and produced until the 1940's. Yours is an earlier one made in the late 1880's. Noted by the early type dog head grips.

Looks like a .38 centerfire. Normally the earlier ones chambered the .38 Long colt and later they changed to the .38 S&W cartridge. They came in .44 Webley, .38 Long, and .32 Long centerfire initially. They came in different barrel lengths. The longer barrels are more scarce. I have a few in my collection and if they are working they are fun to shoot with black powder loads.

So if it works its worth about $150 based on the low percentage of nickel finish remaining and overall condition from photos. You might get a little more for it if the right collector wants this early one to complete a collection. The earlier ones are more scarce. Especially if functioning.

I'll plug in a photo from an 1887 Distributor catalog that shows a long barrel 44 from the same type frame/hammer, etc. The later ones have a bulldog head and a different grip frame so the grips do not interchange with the earlier ones. The early ones have a large breed of Spaniel looking head. Like yours.

Those are actually the earliest Dog head grips. Prior to yours the Bulldogs had an Eagle on the grips. The earliest being a spread winged Eagle (Those are very cool). Then the model 2 had a perched Eagle. So I guess yours' is a 3rd model.

Oh, the serial number on these is always on the frame under the left grip. Should be no higher than 4 digit. I'd be interested in knowing what the serial number range is?

Murph
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Last edited by BMur; 09-13-2020 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 09-13-2020, 05:10 PM
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Murph,
Thank you. Is the lack of markings on the barrel and frame normal?
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Old 09-13-2020, 05:31 PM
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Default American Bulldog

Yes,
They are normally not marked by the manufacturer.
No patents either.

The easiest way to tell the difference between a Bulldog made by Harrington and Richardson and Iver Johnson is the trade name normally stamped on top of the frame but sometimes on top of the barrel on later models.

Iver Johnson is "American Bulldog"

****Earliest ones have Eagle grips, spread wing, then perched, then the various dogs head.

Harrington and Richardson is "The American Bulldog"

****Early ones had a Kings Crown at the base of the grips

TIP: The first year production bulldogs had round barrels and are very rare. Less than 1000 made first year for both the H&R and IJ. So if you see one like yours with a round barrel and cheap? Jump on it. Collectors go nuts over them. Again, the serial number is under the left grip on the frame. The round barrel first year you will find normally 1, 2, or 3 digit number only.


There were many trade name variations actually:

American Eagle (Very rare) Made in 1879
Model of 98
Lightning Express
American Bulldog
etc.

**** Also, really rare ones had 1/2 octagon 1/2 round long barrels. I've seen a few that are 8 inches! I have a couple 6 inch 1/2 oct 1/2round with red grips. Those sell for upwards of $800-$1000+...So these aren't junk guns by any means. they are collectable and there is a following.

Murph

Last edited by BMur; 09-13-2020 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 09-16-2020, 06:27 PM
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Default Early to late Bulldog grips

I don't know if the OP is still with us but here is a line up of the H/R grips from the first model to last;

Spread Eagle: Model 1 Saw handle(Late 1870's-Early 1880's)
Perched Eagle: Model 2 Saw handle(Mid to late 1880's)
Early Dog head: Model 3 Saw handle(Late 1880's to 1890's)
Fancy H/R: Later years post 1887 to ?
Crown grips on Harrington & Richardson Bulldogs.

You can see these grips being sold much later and in as an example: Sears & Roebuck? but those are surplus sales of guns that didn't sell and are now in the Distributor's hands to unload as much as 20+ years later.

Also: I don't have a set of the latest H/R grips but they were actually a Bulldogs head. Those are the Post 1900 grips until the 1940's. This doesn't include various plain H/R grips with coarse checkering, wood, Pearl, Ivory, etc.

Murph
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Last edited by BMur; 09-16-2020 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 09-16-2020, 07:41 PM
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Always someone knowledgeable that knows what they talking about shows up and educates me. Thanks
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Old 09-16-2020, 08:36 PM
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Murph, didn't know you were into these.....



This post had me digging through my misc drawer and I found an American Bulldog, octagon 2 1/2" barrel, 38 cal?? grips are like the upper one in your 2nd picture. The gun is a junker with internal problems. It looks like a candidate for a shadow box. (Not a bad right side but rotted out left side. The grips about the best thing on it.
The serial number is 1664.


Also I came up with a H&R Trapper Model. It's an easy 95%+, 6" barrel. Are these really bringing what I see on GB?? (350-400)
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Old 09-16-2020, 10:33 PM
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Default Bulldog collectables

Oh yeah Dean,
These Bulldogs are very collectable. Can you post a photo of yours?

The earlier they are the more they are worth. The Spread Eagle model 1's are probably the best of the Bulldogs. The 44 is a very heavy frame, thick cylinder and when working? The action is a pleasure to operate and shoot. They are potent too.

When I started collecting them they typically went for about $50 or sometimes less. It's amazing how much they have come up in value. To me they were always under valued. I mean they are early antique revolvers that have a nice appeal to them. I honestly think they are worth even more then you mentioned and will continue to go up in value.

Some collectors still think they are junk but they should do some homework! They are becoming very hard to find. The early ones like yours were a very limited production. So don't toss yours out!

I guess I was lucky to have gotten into them early on when there was little interest...That has changed a lot!!


Murph
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Old 09-16-2020, 10:54 PM
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Murph,
I'm almost ashamed to take a picture of the Bulldog. It really is in rough shape. About the only thing salvageable would be the grips and maybe, a few parts.
As I said, there are internal problems such as DA only, no cylinder rotation, the cylinder axis pin is frozen, etc.

However I will try to get some pics tomorrow.


The 350-400 I mentioned were sold prices I saw on GB for the 95% Trapper Model I also have.
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Old 09-16-2020, 11:23 PM
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Default Trapper model

Yeah Dean,
I know which one you are talking about. Long barrel, 22CAL.

The trapper model H&R frame is basically the same as the earlier bulldog so I kinda included that into the mix of the full frame bulldog style and design.

I'm not at all surprised by the prices.

Even though your bulldog is in poor shape, I'd still like to see it if you can get a photo uploaded. Thanks.

Murph
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Old 09-17-2020, 12:36 PM
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Murph,
Here are a couple of pics of the American Bulldog from my junk drawer.
(As I said the grips could be used, and may be a few other parts.)
I also tossed in a pic of a British Bulldog (Belgian version).




Last a general pic of some non-S&W revolvers. (The parts guns are the Sedgly Baby Hammerless, H&A Dictator, Otis Smith, the good side of the American Bulldog) and the H&R Trapper.
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Old 09-17-2020, 03:22 PM
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Default Nice Collection

Come on Dean,
That's not in bad shape. That left side can be restored easily. I thought it was heavily pitted. Definitely an early Model 3. Nice collection.

There are techniques now that can apply nickel finish to a small area. As an example, the cylinder has that one area that lacks finish? Polishing the metal is usually enough to satisfy most collectors because if done right? It comes out really nice but provides no surface protection from corrosion. So, you dip it into the Green Nickel bath and apply nickel with a contact anode. Sort of like painting it on. It turns out nice.
I've done it many times to touch up areas that are missing nickel.

Here is a copy of the correct patent drawing for that model. Notice the early date? You can see the mechanism clearly if you want to attempt to fix it. These are not hard to work on it's just finding parts, that's the real problem. It's likely a spring issue since the early Bulldogs were built very stout.

Murph
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  #13  
Old 09-19-2020, 08:14 PM
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Default Still here

Had my hand slapped for the original posting in the wrong place but very much appreciate all of the information you have all provided.
It is very much appreciated that a community like this exists where you can share information about the common but also find information about the weird stuff you run across every now and then.
FLF
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