Page 12 - Auction84-Book3
P. 12

 LOT 3002
Outstanding Documented, Historic, Extremely Rare Remington/Marlin Hepburn Prototype of the Very First Side Ejector Lever Action Rifle as Seen in “Marlin Firearms” and From the Remington Factory Museum Collection - NSN, 42 cal., 27 3/4 inch octagon bbl., brown/blue finish, walnut stock. Offered here is a one-of-a-kind Lewis L. Hepburn designed lever action prototype rifle that was likely manufactured on E. Remington & Sons machinery circa 1886 with features used later in the Marlin Model 1889 rifle, the very first production side ejecting lever action repeater with a flat top receiver. The only marking on this early prototype rifle is “L.L. HEPBURN” marked on top of the barrel ahead of the rear sight. Lewis Hepburn became superintendent of E. Remington & Sons
mechanical department and sporting arms starting in 1871, and after a successful career he would leave to go to Marlin after E. Remington & Sons went bankrupt in 1886. Hepburn held U.S. Patent number 298,377, originally filed on December 3rd, 1883 and granted May 13th, 1884, for his first known design of a lever action magazine gun using a top ejecting system, and he would improve that first design with U.S. Patent number 354,059, originally filed on July 29th, 1886 and granted December 7th, 1886; both of which were patented while Hepburn was residing out of Ilion, New York during his time as a well respected employee of E. Remington & Sons. After Remington went bankrupt in 1886, Hepburn would seek employment elsewhere and carried this design with him to John Marlin, where he continued on to become a long time Marlin engineer and designed many of the company’s most successful arms that included the Model 1888 through the Model 1897 lever action rifles, and over his thirty year career, secured some twenty patents for Marlin and is credited as the mastermind behind Marlin’s most successful lever action arms. He is especially noted for developing the side ejection, solid flat top receiver used on the Model 1889. This is a historically significant firearm in that it is the first known lever action prototype with the side ejection system like what was later utilized in the Marlin Model 1889, and it bridges the gap between Lewis Hepburn’s work at Remington prior to his involvement with Marlin. The internal workings of this prototype is based on Hepburn’s U.S. patent numbers 298,377 and 354,059 but with a side ejection system. It does not have the locking system seen in his 1887 dated U.S. Patent number 371,455, indicating it likely predates that design and leading to the possibility of this being a Remington manufactured gun. According to page 169 of “Marlin Firearms” by William Brophy, “[T]he L.L. Hepburn patent number 298,377 was for a side-loading, top-ejection mechanism. The locking of the bolt, however, was inferior to the Model 1888 system covered by L.L. Hepburn’s patent number 371,455, dated October 11, 1887. Yet when Mr. Hepburn made his first prototype of a side-ejecting system, he used the earlier mechanism modified to side ejection... L.L. Hepburn was [later] awarded letter patent number 400,679 dated April 2, 1889 for the New Model 1889 rifle. The bolt, carrier, and right-hand ejection system were the main differences between this model and the earlier Model 1888.” Production Model 1889s carried the October 1887 and April 1889 patents on the barrel. This prototype rifle is pictured and identified in Brophy’s “Marlin Firearms” on page 168. The rifle is fitted with a dovetail blade front sight and elevation adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight.

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