Page 18 - Auction84-Book3
P. 18

 Serial Number 1
LOT 3006
Extraordinary, Historic Factory Engraved First Production Marlin Model 1881 Lever Action Rifle, Serial Number 1 as Documented in “Marlin Firearms” - Serial no. 1, 45-70 Government cal., 28 inch octagon bbl., blue finish, walnut stock. Rock Island Auction Company is pleased to offer the very first production Marlin Model 1881 lever action rifle, serial number 1. In 1881 the company that had made a name for itself in the manufacture of single shot arms began to produce lever action repeating rifles starting with the Model 1881. As serial number 1, this Model 1881 marked the dawning of a new era for Marlin. The Model 1881 was just the beginning of a long line of successful lever action models for the Marlin Firearms Company. Through innovation of design and fabrication, Marlin played a pivotal role in the development of lever action arms, making it a direct competitor to the giant of the lever action market, Winchester. Marlin’s success came to fruition due to the hard work and perseverance by some of the greatest firearms engineers of the late 19th century. It is difficult to imagine Marlin’s success without contributions from Andrew Burgess, H.F. Wheeler, E.A.F. Toepperwein and L.L. Hepburn. Company founder John Marlin patented his first lever action rifle in late 1879. Only one prototype was manufactured and this historic one-of-a-kind rifle is also featured in this auction. The prototype did not meet John Marlin’s expectations, and he turned his attention elsewhere for a better design. This better design, which eventually became the Model 1881, was based on patents issued to H.F. Wheeler, Andrew Burgess, E.A.F. Toepperwein, and John Marlin. It was John Marlin who put the various patents together into a finished production product. The Model 1881 was a side loading, top ejection lever action type rifle. When the rifle was first introduced it was available in .45-70 and .40-60, but by the time production ended in 1892, calibers .32-40, .38-55, and 45-85 had been added to the line. The Model 1881 was the first production lever action rifle to handle large calibers like .45-70, debuting years before Winchester’s Model 1886. Originally intended for the .45 and .40 caliber cartridges meant the Model 1881 was, in the words of Brophy, “rather massive. The barrels were long (28 inches and 30 inches) and octagon. Holding 10 cartridges, they were heavy. Thus, the receivers were also massive. In due course, to make a lighter rifle, shorter (24-in.) barrels were made available and the receivers were lightened.”This Model 1881, serial number 1, is pictured and identified in Brophy’s authoritative work “Marlin Firearms” on pages 149-151 and 154-155. On page 154 the rifle is photographed completely disassembled. The photographs of the rifle are identified by the serial number or identifiable by the condition of the metal surfaces.

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