This was Marlin's first side-eject rifle and the grandfather to all the Modern Marlin lever actions still being manufactured today. It was designed by inventor LL Hepburn who came to Marlin after financial misfortunes at Remington Arms during the 1880's forced him to seek a new employer. Hepburn is best known for the Remington Hepburn rifle, sights, and his skill as a marksman. Marlin had already come out with the top-eject Marlin Model 1881 and 1888 rifles. Hepburn invented the 1889 within the framework that closely matched the Model 1888. In fact, one of the first prototypes (shown in the Brophy book) is a Model 1888 that's been converted to side-eject. Hepburn went on to design the Model 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, and 1895 rifles.
This is a standard sporting rifle with 24" Octagon barrel chambered in Caliber 44-40. Serial number is in the 39,000 range. Barrel is marked with the 1887 and 1889 patent dates. Caliber marked "44 W" for 44 Winchester Center Fire. This one has the standard long Marlin Ballard semi-buckhorn rear sight and a rather interesting Lyman Hunting Front with a translucent bead...Quartz? To accentuate the white bead and cut down on glare, the face of these Lyman hunting front sights are matted with fine checkering. Top of frame is marked "Marlin Safety" in script.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Fine with 65% original blue...balance has toned to a smooth brown patina. Barrel and mag tube are 75% original blue overall that is mixed with patina. Screws are good overall. Loading port still shows some nice heat blue with traces of original case colors still visible on the lever and hammer. The wood is in very good condition with very good wood to metal fit. No chips. No cracks with exception of one that's been repaired at the toe of the stock. These are quite common on early Marlins (and Winchesters) and they occur from natural shrinkage of the wood around the lower stock screw. After 50 to 100 years, the stock screw usually wins and a small crack forms. This rifle is no exception and it has been mended by a professional to where it is almost invisible. Almost not worth mentioning but we want to be accurate. Bore is in Good+ condition with strong rifling, not dark, and some scattered pits. Hammer works on both half and full cock positions. A nice example of an early 1889 Rifle in the caliber and barrel configuration everybody seems to want. Best of all, these are still priced at a fraction of what a comparable Winchester 1873 or 1892 in the same configuration would cost.