John Mahlon Marlin was born on May 6, 1836 near Windsor Locks, Connecticut. At the age of 18, he became an apprentice machinist with the American Machine Works. He later served as a machinist with Colt Patent Firearms of Hartford. In 1863, he started his own pistol manufacturing business in New Haven, concentrating on production of a small single-shot .22 caliber deringer.
Marlin expanded his efforts to include revolvers in 1870, but became heavily involved in the production of long arms after forming a partnership with Charles H. Ballard, of Worchester, Massachusetts. Ballard patented a design for a breechloading single shot rifle in 1861. The design was cutting edge for the day and Ballard rifles became renowned for their robust and reliable actions. Despite this, Ballard struggled to find a firm to produce his rifles. Approximately 24,000 sporting and military rifles, carbines, and shotguns were manufactured between 1862 and 1873; with a total of five different New England companies producing Ballard's guns. After an economic depression forced Ballard into bankruptcy in 1873, all patent rights, equipment, parts inventories, and properties were purchased by New York arms dealers Schoverling and Daly. The firm contacted John Marlin to produce the Ballard rifles. This partnership would prove to be highly successful not only for Marlin and Ballard, but also for Schoverling and Daly, who handled the sale and marketing of the new arms.
In 1881, the Marlin Firearms Company was incorporated, and production of Ballard rifles continued under the Marlin banner until they were eventually discontinued in 1891 due to the rising popularity of repeating rifles. In recognizing this new trend, Marlin introduced a lever action repeating arm, the "Model 1881" - a large-frame rifle with a strong action capable of handling cartridges as large as .45-70; something Winchester wouldn't accomplish until five years later with their Model 1886 rifle.
With the popularity of the Model 1881, Marlin's focus shifted to lever guns; adopting revolutionary features like side-ejecting receivers and a positive locking breech which was dubbed the "Marlin Safety" - a subtle jab at Winchester implying it was safer than Winchester’s open, top-ejecting system. These features were the result of a collaboration between Marlin and firearms designer and renowned target shooter Lewis Lobdell Hepburn. Hepburn joined Marlin in 1886 and, realizing the firearms world was entering the era of smokeless powder, decided to update the Marlin's Model 1889 by lengthening its action, strengthening the bolt and devising a two-piece firing-pin safety—a feature still in use by Marlin today.
Marlin christened the improved lever-action the Model 1893, and offered it as a rifle or a saddle-ring carbine. Initial chamberings were for the .32-40 and .38-55 blackpowder cartridges Marlin had developed for the Ballard. In 1895, Marlin began chambering its Model 1893 for smokeless powder cartridges, including .30-30 Win. and later the .32 Win. Spl. (which Marlin called the .32 High Power Special) and a proprietary .25-36 Marlin.
The Model 1893 proved to be immensely popular, and Marlin made over 1 million of them during the gun's production run of 1893-1935. World-renowned sharpshooters Annie Oakley, a star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West, and Frank C. Miller, crack shot of the Irwin Bros. Cheyenne Frontier Days Wild West Show, both owned Marlin Model 1893 rifles and spoke quite highly of them.
"I gave as high as 15 exhibitions a day, shooting under all conditions, rain, wind, night, in parades in the streets," Miller said in a 1915 interview. "And late last fall, I used some of the guns on a hunting trip to Canada and Wyoming. From all this, you can see what opinion I have of Marlin guns."
This particular Model 1893 is a very early production; made in 1897. The gun's early production not only makes it a desirable collectible, cut also qualifies it as an "antique"; meaning it can be sent directly to its new owner without having to ship through an FFL!
It is in excellent condition and is all original from top to bottom. It features a full length 26" round barrel that retains most of its original bluing which has begun to take on a pleasing plum patina with age. This Marlin also boasts an extremely rare chambering - .30-30; meaning ammunition for this rifle can be purchased at any sporting goods store, without the need to search for expensive and obsolete ammo. Winchester was a direct competitor to Marlin, meaning the company was reluctant to produce any rifles chambered in a caliber that was developed by its closest competition. However, not wanting to let a potential market remain untapped; Marlin did produce a very small run of .30-30 rifles beginning in 1897; making this rifle quite rare. The bore remains in good condition - the rifling shows some minor wear but is in overall good condition with no pitting or rust.
The maker’s address is on the top of the barrel is complete and legible; as are the rest of the markings.
The original black walnut stocks are also very good with some minor "handling marks" from use, but no areas of cracks, chips or other damage.
The receiver features great markings and visible color case hardening that has taken on a silvery-patina with age. The action works flawlessly and the lever cycles as it should.