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It's been a while since a new posting/topic has been made here so I'll relay this story/incident that began back in 1997 at the N.R.A. Convention in Seattle, Washington.
As a long time Life Member and Endowment N.R.A. member and always active (back then!) in N.R.A. events/projects and as an active L.E.O. I was contacted and immediately volunteered to serve on the "security crew" for that convention.
Among our many duties was providing security and inspection of firearms as the various displayers/companies set up their booths and tables. This was fun and started two days before the convention actually opened.
One day I struck up a conversation with several fellows filling their glass display cases with Marlin Rifles. Turns out it was the Marlin Collectors Association's display.
I saw a Rifle that brought back memories from my early teenage and Rabbit Hunting on Puget Sounds San Juan islands.
Myself and some friends would often travel to the islands with our 22 rimfire Rifles and thin out the hoards of Cottontail rabbits that were incredibly over-populated there (no predators on most of the islands).
Our groups would often shoot 150 Rabbits a day.
One of the older friends (who had the drivers license and car) would sometimes bring along his Marlin Model 1897 that his grandfather had given him.
I did NOT appreciate the beauty, the rarity, the ornateness and the workmanship on that "special order" Rifle - at the time.
My friend always took extra care of that Rifle in using it and transporting it - and I am glad he did!
Anyway that phase of my teenage soon passed and MANY decades go by, til the N.R.A. Convention and the Marlin Collectors come to town.
I see a beautiful Model 1897 amongst their guns and relay to one of the "collectors" that my friend has an ornate Rifle much like the one in the display case.
Wow - interest was instantaneous. The collectors asks if I can arrange for my friend to bring his Rifle by for an inspection and maybe an offer. Sure I say and at opening hour of the convention my friend is escorted in by me and the introduction made. The Marlin folks were IMPRESSED with the ornate Model 1897 to say the least and they request my friend leave the Rifle in their care and on display for the duration of the convention.
Sure my friend says and arrangements were made to retrieve the Rifle at the end of the convention.
Turns out my friends 1897 Marlin wins a Best of Show Medal (one of only ten given out that year!) and as my friend was packing up his Rifle and his ornate medal one of the "collectors" approaches him and offers to buy the Rifle.
I was standing there as my friend was offered $35,000.00 (thirty five thousand dollars!) for that beautiful and ornate Rifle!
I am very practiced at maintaining a "poker face" when dealing on firearms but I nearly broke face at that amazing offer for my friends "Rabbit Rifle".
My friend eventually requested for more time to consider the offer and we left the convention hall.
I was trembling - that was a LOT of money back then!
I soon received, in the mail, a limited edition signed copy of the Brophy Marlin Firearms huge book and a thank you letter from said collector who had appreciated my help in getting that Rifle on site for display.
My friend thought it over for a year and contacted me saying he had no offspring to bequeath that unique Marlin to and could use the money. So arrangements were made to sell/transfer said Rifle.
My friend asked me to come along as the new higher selling price was MORE than the original offer and would be done in cash at the Sea-Tac Airport near my home.
We show up and the collector was there cash in hand and would be returning to his home immediately on another flight.
Money was counted and all goes well - the Rifle was checked in as luggage along with another rigid gun case. So one empty gun case (the collectors) and one gun case (provided by my friend) full of the prized Rifle.
Off we go and my friend got home safely with his batch of cash.
Some hours later I get a call from my friend saying the prized Rifle had NOT arrived at baggage claim in the collectors home town but the empty rigid case had!
DAMN!
Anyway the collector asked my friend to return to Sea-Tac and search for/inquire about and inform security of the missing EXPENSIVE Rifle.
We did so and tried to impress all the folks we spoke to of the value of this Rifle and our worries about "thievery" not just "lost luggage"!
The collector was distraught to the max and did what he could to keep the heat on the search for and investigation into the missing prize.
Several days go by with NO recovery!
We are all sick about the situation.
This is my understanding of the next part of this incident - finally after several days a "delivery van" shows up at the collectors house and the missing hard gun case and the prized 1897 Marlin was inside, intact and undamaged!
No explanation was given/obtained on the whereabouts of that Rifle for that amount of time - but we all surmised that the non-stop flight gave investigators "leverage" on the limited number of baggage apes who had access to it. And said leverage/pressure caused the reappearance of the award winning Marlin.
A huge sigh of relief occurred by all concerned.
For those that own the Brophy Marlin Firearms book the 1897 in question is a cross between the ornate 1897's illustrated on pages 238 and 239 of that book.
The Rifle had originally been purchased and given to my friends grandfather by his employees when he retired as headman/owner of a very large lumber mill in the Grays Harbor area of Washington state (circa 1920's - 1930 IIRC).
I am hopeful that this rare, stunning, ornate and gold inlaid Marlin 1897 is alive and well today - and hopeful as well a bunch of teenage Hunters are NOT taking it afield after Rabbits!
Hold into the wind
VarmintGuy

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I have one, not ornate, but I'll never sell.

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Gunscrew: I have never owned an 1897 - Edm's posting and picture of his commemorative Model 18978 reminded me of the above Rifle/incident.
I seldom see the older Marlins for sale anymore - like I did 30 -40 years ago anyway. I think the Marlin people like them to much to sell them nowadays?
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I really enjoyed your story, reason I have one is that I got it cheap, and it needed a little work had it 20 years, I couldn't afford a nice one or I may be just to cheap.

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Bushwacker: Great photo there!
Thanks for sharing that.
Kind of makes me feel "bad" though - as back when I was a teenager and on the Cottontail Hunts I relayed above the rabbits were such an incredible annoyance to the "Islanders" that we did not save them for eating (like you obviously do!).
With age comes wisdom - they say.
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Thank you sir, my grandpa was always worried about fleas, so unfortunately some were wasted when I was younger. I think the hunting gods forgive us in our youth.

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Decades ago I chanced upon two 1897 rifles, one of which was factory -ornately carved stock and forend.
Both were accurate and years later the Special Order 97 went to a dairy farmer in Texas. He had to have it
after handling it.
The 1897 will convert a Winchester lover-at least in rimfire.


"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena-not the critic"-T. Roosevelt
There are no atheists in fox holes or in the open doors of a para's aircraft.....
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450Fuller: Decades ago at the height of my collecting of Winchester lever guns I got some advice.
And that advice came from a long time gun collector/trader who was beginning to sell off his lever gun collection.
His advice was for me to quit overlooking Marlin lever guns!
I wish I would have taken his learned advice to heart back then - I would be a much wealthier person today.
Long live Marlin lever guns.
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Is the Model 97 the same gun?

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Vixen: Pardon my slow reply I have been out late season Elk scouting.
It is my understanding that the terms "97" and "1897" when referring to Marlin 22 rimfire Rifles are referencing the same Model (properly, I guess!) as the Model 1897.
Kind of like folks referring to the Winchester 1894 as a "94".
I looked in my index for the Marlin Firearms Guide and they list the Model 1897 Lever Action Rifle as "1897 - 97".
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I am the proud owner of one of the "Newer" Model 1897 CB .22LR's

Purchased new when a friend owned a gunstore and allowed me to order from his catalogs.......one of the smartest things I ever did.


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What an incredible story! Sounds like a once in a lifetime (or several lifetimes) gun.

I love Marlin 39s! They are just the greatest .22s!

Last edited by filmjunkie4ever; 11/10/23. Reason: Clarification
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Filmjunkie4ever: Pardon my slow reply - our long Deer/Elk season here in Montana is now over.
I also love the Marlin Model 39's and have 5 (five) of them left nowadays.
I have a VarmintGrandSon who is showing left handed tendencies and I will certainly bequeath one of my 39's to him.
A year and a half ago my lifelong friend (who owned and then sold that Model 1897 I posted about) passed away.
I bought from his family a pair of his long guns and used one of them to harvest a dandy Pronghorn Buck.
I only wish I had the foresight and the dollars to buy that amazing Model 1897 from him back when it originally sold.
Long live Model 39 Marlins.
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I had a couple 1897's , one was worn out , the other was in very good shape , with pretty nice wood.

The bore looked good , no rust , fairly crisp , but it did not shoot well.

I finally sold it , maybe here. Have had a number of Marlins , still have some.

I am pleased with Winchesters.

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Originally Posted by 450Fuller
Decades ago I chanced upon two 1897 rifles, one of which was factory -ornately carved stock and forend.
Both were accurate and years later the Special Order 97 went to a dairy farmer in Texas. He had to have it
after handling it.
The 1897 will convert a Winchester lover-at least in rimfire.

I love Winchesters, Marlins and Savages lever guns. They each are unique and pleasing to the eye in their own ways. I happen to prefer the Marlin model 39’s to ANY/ALL Winchester or Henry lever action rimfires I’ve seen or handled. Just my preference.

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Originally Posted by VarmintGuy
Filmjunkie4ever: Pardon my slow reply - our long Deer/Elk season here in Montana is now over.
I also love the Marlin Model 39's and have 5 (five) of them left nowadays.
I have a VarmintGrandSon who is showing left handed tendencies and I will certainly bequeath one of my 39's to him.
A year and a half ago my lifelong friend (who owned and then sold that Model 1897 I posted about) passed away.
I bought from his family a pair of his long guns and used one of them to harvest a dandy Pronghorn Buck.
I only wish I had the foresight and the dollars to buy that amazing Model 1897 from him back when it originally sold.
Long live Model 39 Marlins.
Hold into the wind
VarmintGuy

No worries!

I for one would love to buy a Marlin 39 for each of my kids, my wife and my siblings, and I will given that I find them and can afford them.

Everyone ought to have a .22, everyone.

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Filmjunkie4ever: I do know this - if'n a Marlin Model 39 comes onto a gunstores shelves in my 3 state area, at ANYWHERE near a "decent" price, it is gone, PRONTO!
Good luck in garnering those Model 39's for your kin.
That is a commendable quest.
Hold into the wind
VarmintGuy


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