Gold Plated & Engraved by J. Lowe, Marlin Model 1891 .32 RF Lever Action Rifle, MFD 1893 – Antique

Sold For: $3,513

LSB#: 140310JM08 

Make: Marlin Firearms Co. 

Model: Safety Repeating Rifle Model 1891 

Serial Number: 93046 

Year of Manufacture: 1893 ( 

Caliber: .32 Rimfire (Can be converted to .32 Short Colt or .32 Long Colt by changing firing pin). 

Action Type: Lever Action with Front Loading Magazine Tube 

Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “>Marlin Fire-Arms Co. New Haven, CT. U.S.A. < / Pat’d Nov.19.1878. April 2.1889. AUG.12.1890. MARCH 1.1892.” The top of the receiver is marked “MARLIN SAFETY” in script. The front underside of the receiver is marked “93046”. The receiver under the front of the hammer is marked “8” and the top of the bolt is marked “7”. The lower tang is marked “J. Lowe” just behind the trigger. The receiver is custom engraved by J. Lowe with what would be close to Marlin’s No. 1 engraving. There is a circled game scene on the left side featuring a squirrel with scroll engraving around the circle. The right side of the receiver, the right side of the bolt and the nose cap are scroll engraved. The front underside of the receiver is engraved with a half-sunflower pattern. 

Barrel Length: The octagon barrel with full length magazine tube is 24” in length. 

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a long silver blade held in a slotted mount that is dovetailed into the barrel. The rear sight is a “U” notched semi-buckhorn elevator sight dovetailed into the barrel. The top tang is drilled, tapped and filled for an aperture sight. 

Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are fancy checkered walnut with a high gloss finish. The buttstock has a pistol grip and a gold plated steel crescent shaped buttplate. The forend has a gold plated and engraved nose cap. The stocks show oil staining around the metal parts. There is a small compression mark just behind the upper tang and a light 1” long mark on the right side near the butt. The lower right side of the buttstock has a dull look to the finish. The left rear of the forend has a light mark. There is a tiny gap between the forend and the receiver on the right side, along with a short 3/32” crack at the edge. There is a slight gap between the right rear of the receiver and the buttstock. With the two exceptions noted, the wood fits the receiver very well. The checkering shows light wear without mars. The LOP measures 13 5/16” from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate, which shows slight thinning on its edges at the butt and toe and light marks from polishing. The buttplate is in Fine condition. The stocks rate in about Fine overall condition. 

Type of Finish: The barrel and magazine tube are blued, the receiver, forend nose cap and buttplate are gold plated and the lever and hammer are case colored. The case colored lever looks like it has a varnish coating. 

Finish Originality: The barrel, magazine tube, receiver, forend nose cap and buttplate have been refinished. 

Bore Condition: The bore is dark and the rifling is shallow. There is erosion in the grooves and a heavy ring of erosion about 2” from the muzzle. 

Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 92% of its current metal finish. The magazine tube shows a few spots of thinning with light sanding marks and scattered spots of light pitting under the finish. The barrel shows light sanding marks that run lengthwise with a smooth slightly rounded front edge. The barrel shows two small compression marks on its right edge about 3” in front of the forend. The left front edge of the receiver shows a light scratch, and the right rear shows tiny compression marks. There are scattered spots of staining on the receiver, especially at the right rear, and light handling marks on the left side. There are also a few scattered spots of light pitting on the left front of the receiver and the top of the bolt. The slot at the bottom front of the hammer shows pinprick surface erosion when the hammer is cocked and the top and left side of the bolt shows pinprick surface erosion when the lever is open. There is wear through the varnish coating on the bottom of the trigger guard. The knurling on the end of the magazine tube and the checkering on the hammer show light wear. The knurling on the takedown knob is sharp. The screw heads in the tang and receiver are sharp but show marks of a screwdriver. The forend nose cap screws are distressed. The markings are clear. Overall, this rifle rates in about Fine condition as refinished. 

Mechanics: The action functions correctly, except that the lever safety is in-operable. The hammer has a half-cock safety position. We have not fired this rifle. Except for stock removal, which requires a screwdriver, the entire receiver comes apart via a knurled screw on the right side. 

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None 

Our Assessment: The Marlin Safety Repeating rifle, Model 1891, came in four variations: .22 caliber side-loading; .22 caliber tube loading without model designation on tang; .22 caliber tube loading with model designation on top tang; and .32 caliber tube loading without model designation. The .32 caliber rifle came with two firing pins; one for .32 Rimfire, and one for .32 Centerfire (either .32 Short or Long Colt). One of the main selling attributes of the rifle was that it could use “cheap” rimfire ammunition as compared to Winchester rifles chambered in .32-20 WCF, and that the .32 Short (either rimfire or center fire cartridges) did less damage to the meat on small animals and did not carry as far, making the rifle very useful around a farm. The ability to change firing pins from rimfire to centerfire without the use of tools was another selling feature. This is a beautiful looking Model 1891 rifle made in 1893, and chambered in .32 caliber, with a rimfire firing pin in the bolt. It was ordered with a fancy deluxe walnut checkered stock with a crescent buttplate and at some time in its life was engraved and the receiver gold plated by J. Lowe. We have seen other period rifles engraved by Mr. Lowe, including a Stevens, but could find no other information about him. This is really a unique rifle. While over 18,000 were made, not all that many were made with selected and checkered walnut stocks, which was a $10 option at the time: the standard rifle cost only $19.50 at the time. The gold plating and its original fancy walnut stock really set if off, so please see our pictures. There are two small compression marks in the barrel, a few thinned areas in the magazine tube, a few light marks on the receiver, and light pitting under the finish on the magazine tube and receiver. It is in about Fine condition as refinished. This rifle belongs in a Marlin collection or collection of early lever action rifles. 

Gold Plated & Engraved by J. Lowe, Marlin Model 1891 .32 RF Lever Action Rifle, MFD 1893 - Antique
Gold Plated & Engraved by J. Lowe, Marlin Model 1891 .32 RF Lever Action Rifle, MFD 1893 – Antique