Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3003: Marlin Hepburn Prototype Lever Action Rifle

Auction Date: December 5, 2021

Historically Significant, Extremely Rare Marlin Hepburn Prototype Lever Action Rifle

Estimated Price: $27,500 - $45,000

Historically Significant, Extremely Rare Marlin Hepburn Prototype Lever Action Rifle

Manufacturer: Marlin Firearms Co
Model: Lever Action
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 45-70
Barrel: 26 inch octagon
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 501
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 12
Class: Antique

This one-of-a-kind Marlin prototype that led to the Model 1895. The receiver with a flat side bolt is comparable to that found on a Model 1889 but larger in size. The bolt follows a guide rail along the top edge and extends to a notch in the receiver. The lever has an exposed locking lug extension that connects to a notch in the lever. Also of note is the lever lock at the toe and hammer, as both components follow design characteristics found on the Model 1889. Renowned firearms inventor Lewis L. Hepburn is largely credited for being the mastermind behind this style of side ejection used by Marlin. In fact, it is Hepburn's name that is stamped on top of this prototype's receiver. Hepburn was a long time Marlin engineer and designed many of the company's most successful arms that included the Model 1888 through the Model 1897, and over his 30 year career, secured some 20 patents for Marlin. Knowledgeable collectors have considered this prototype as having evolved into the Model 1895, Marlin's large hunting caliber rifle manufactured c. 1895 to 1917. While never gaining a large portion of the market, the Model 1895 did solidify a reputation as an accurate big game rifle. The legacy of the Model 1895 continues on to this day as a modern version of the rifle is still in production. The only marking on the rifle is "L.L HEPBURN" in tiny font on top of the receiver. The rifle is fitted with a German silver blade front sight and a semi-buckhorn rear sight. The uncheckered forearm and straight grip stock are nicely figured American walnut. Provenance: The Milan J. Turk Collection

Rating Definition:

Exceptionally fine as a historic, one-of-a-kind Marlin prototype designed by renowned firearms inventory Lewis Hepburn. The rifle retains 85% original blue finish with thinning to brown on the balance. The lever retaining 60% original case colors, strongest in the sheltered areas. 60% niter blue remains on the loading gate. The remaining metal surfaces have silver out. The wood is fine with a number of minor dings and scratches. Mechanically excellent.

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