This is very scarce Model 1891 Deluxe sideloader rifle in .22 Caliber with a 24" octagon barrel, checkered wood and a pistol grip stock. The 1891 was Marlin's first lever action in .22 caliber. This is called a First Variation as it has a distinctive fire blued side-loading port on the right side of the receiver. Marlin only made 5000 side-loaders before they adopted a simpler tube-loading design that is still used today in all .22 caliber lever actions. Incidentally, another unique feature found on all 1st variations is the use of a 3/4 length magazine tube. Deluxe variations of these early Marlin 91's are very rare....in fact, this is the only one I've ever seen outside of photographs in books.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Excellent in untouched condition with 90% receiver blue. The fire blue on the loading port and the sideplate screw are at least 85% and if you're like me, these colors will leave you gazing for hours upon end...nevermind the photos, they simply won't translate how vivid these fire blue colors truly are. The hammer still has 70% original case colors with 25% faded colors remaining on the lever. The barrel and magazine tube have 85% original blue remaining. Nice screws. Excellent markings throughout which includes the 1878, 1887, and 1890 patent dates on top of the barrel. The top of the receiver is marked "MARLIN SAFETY". Original sights are the early non-adjustable fixed-style. The wood is in Fine Plus to Excellent condition still retaining 90% original varnish. The checkering on the pistol grip and forewood is still sharp and un-enhanced. Good action and bore is also in good condition with decent rifling.
I can't emphasize enough how few of these Deluxe 1891's ever turn up on the market. This is probably one of the nicest examples of a Deluxe side-loader you could hope to find. With values more than doubled over the past 5 years for many of the deluxe Model Winchesters, nicer examples are now fetching prices well into the multiple five-figure ranges. With these higher prices, Deluxe models in high condition are becoming collectibles for only a few very dedicated colletors. The result is a vacuum has formed within the market for Deluxe models from other manufacturers like these Marlins. I am having to pay considerably more for these than I used to but they are still an excellent value, especially Engraved Marlins. Coupled with the rarity of this Model along with the craze surrounding early antique .22 repeaters, this will make a great investment that you can enjoy while it only appreciates in value.