One day in the spring of 1904, the George Batten Company got a telephone request to send somebody down to talk advertising with Fred I. Johnson (Iver Johnson's son) at the New York office of the Iver Johnson's Arms and Cycle Works. William H. Johns, vice-president of the agency, responded and found Mr. Johnson much interested in the subject. Quite a conversation followed. Mr. Johnson exhibited some of the advertisements his house had published for its revolvers. Throughout the advertisements ran one claim of superiority, embodied in the phrase, 'Accidental Discharge Impossible'.
"What do you think of our advertising anyway?" asked Mr. Johnson.
"Why, it looks pretty enough," replied Mr. Johns, reservedly, "but it isn't true."
"It is true!" insisted Johnson.
"I don't believe it," persisted Johns, skeptically. "Accidental discharge isn't impossible with your revolver, or anybody else's. That is a great mistake -- to mislead the public by exaggerated claims of this kind, either in advertising or by salesman's talk."
Then, as Mr. Johns tells the story, an Iver Johnson Safety revolver was sent for. When it came in from the stock-room, Mr. Johnson loaded it with ball cartridges in the presence of the advertising agent. Then he threw the loaded weapon with full force against the fireproof safe ten feet off. It clattered to the floor. Mr. Johnson picked it up and threw it recklessly against a table. He picked it up again and threw it around the office. Johns begged him to stop. Cold perspiration was running down the latter's spine, and he admits that he was never so frightened in his life. Johnson went right ahead with his demonstration, however, and wound up by taking a hammer, pointing the weapon at his own leg, and pounding the hammer of the revolver with all his strength.
"Do you believe it now?" he asked finally.
"For Heaven's sake, yes -- there is no doubt about it," admitted Johns. "But why have you never given the public such simple striking proof to back your claim as you have given me? Why have you been satisfied all these years to stick to a bald claim that looks like a lie when you can make such a convincing test?"
Mr. Johnson said that making his point plainer to the public was exactly what he wanted an advertising agency to do. Out of that demonstration grew the now- famous phrase, 'Hammer the Hammer,' the characteristic talking point of the most widely advertised revolver in the world.
By 1909, after five years of hammering home the "Hammer the Hammer" slogan, Iver Johnson's Arms and Cycle Works was in a position to make the statement that sales of its revolvers equalled those of all other manufacturers in the United States combined! This claim apparently went unchallenged as to its validity by competitors. Two million Iver Johnson "Safety Automatic" revolvers were sold during the first fourteen years that they were on the market, this figure rising to three million by 1911. The manufacturers alleged that throughout this production period, an instance of accidental discharge of one of these revolvers was never reported.
Quote: "you will not see anyone with that dedication today!"
Perhaps the reason you won't see anyone with that "dedication" today is because (hopefully) they are too smart to trust a mechanical device. No safety device ever made is infallible. Certainly the hammer-block safety is not infallible. Neither is the "transfer bar" safety which I think is what the Iver Johnson had. The transfer bar is a long thin piece of material which pivots on a post on the trigger body. As the trigger is pulled to the rear, the transfer bar rises up to fill the gap between the hammer and the firing pin, thereby allowing the falling hammer to strike the transfer bar which "transfers" the blow to the firing pin. Without the transfer bar being in place, the falling hammer will harmlessly strike the frame of the revolver. This works just fine until the transfer bar breaks and becomes wedged in the "up" position, or until some foreign object happens to fall into the gap and serve as a transfer bar if the hammer is struck a hard blow. Granted, these safeties are better than nothing, but sometimes the unexpected can happen.
I agree with your stance on safety, but it is beisde the point. This man put his life on the line for a product, slogan and idea his family built and belived in. He could have been selling shoes for all I care. I just admire his dedication to his families honor and his products reputation. That is what I mean by dedication to the product.
But yes he was a jackass and could have killed him and his ad guy, he could have pointed the gun down range at a bullet trap and beat the hell out of it.
Don't get your knickers all knotted up there, GordonSetter. I liked the story too, but I'm old enough and experienced enough with guns to recognize it for what it is..... an amusing story (even if it is true). However, there are many readers on this board whose knowledge of guns and gun safety could be summed up in about one short sentence. "They know very damn little." They might conclude that if it was safe to throw around a loaded gun (revolver) that was made about 100 years ago that surely today's guns must be even safer and therefore the same kind of treatment with their shotgun today would be safe. WRONG! :!:
I'm all for telling amusing and interesting stories, but when you don't know how many impressionable people with limited gun knowledge may be reading the story, then it's only appropriate to point out that the story they just heard was NOT the safe or smart thing to do.... whether 100 years ago or today. :lol:
A forum community dedicated to Shotgun owners and enthusiasts including the Remington, Beretta, and Mossberg shotguns brands. Come join the discussion about optics, hunting, gunsmithing, styles, reviews, accessories, classifieds, and more!