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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle (Read 3681 times)
marlinguy
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OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Dec 3rd, 2020 at 7:10pm
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So here's the next tale of a gun with a story, and provenance. This time the rifle is a Model 1881 Marlin that was made too early to be recorded in Marlin records, which start around serial number 4000. This one in the 1500 range, so likely a late first year gun.
I was sitting at my table at our monthly Oregon Arms Collectors show one Sunday a couple decades ago, when a friend walks up to my table. He tells me a local gun shop is closing their doors, and he saw an old Marlin in there I might be interested in. He didn't know the model, caliber, or anything much, except, "It's got one of those forked buttplates?"
So of course it interested me, but the shop was closed that day. The next day I called from work, and they were open. I had to work all day, but by lunch time I couldn't stand it anymore. I picked up my tools and left early.
Got to the gun shop and walked around looking for anything that might match his description, but nothing there even close. I was disappointed it had sold, or the info was wrong. I turned to leave, and sitting at the end of a shelf unit was an old whiskey barrel with a bunch of junker guns stuffed in it. I saw this buttplate sticking up out of the barrel.

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I stepped over to it and pulled out a very unusual 1881 Marlin large frame rifle. 

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I stood there looking it over, and then looked at the hang tag on it, and the price was well under $500. I took it to the counter, and trying to keep my best poker face, I asked if the price was correct? The counter guy says, "Let me call the owner, and ask."
So he calls the owner up, and then turns to me and says, "If you want it he said he'd knock $50 off."
Now I wasn't trying to get more off, but happily accepted, and home we went! I sit down with it at home, and while I'm looking at the caliber marking, I see this:

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"E FLUES BAY CITY"?? Wonder who that is? I call a friend who is also a member of this forum, and he tells me he just saw that name mentioned in the Single Shot Exchange, and it was a gun Gary Quinlin was selling. So I call Gary up and ask what he knows about E Flues, and he tells me he's got a Ballard Schuetzen rifle built by E Flues, but it's packed to go to a gun show, and documentation is with it. But he directs me to The Double Gun Journal, and the Bay City Historical Society.
 
cont.
  

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waterman
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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #1 - Dec 3rd, 2020 at 7:27pm
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I've been around guys who collect high-end double barrel shotguns to recognize the name.  He wasn't a plumber.  Anxiously awaiting part 2 of this tale.
  
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marlinguy
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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #2 - Dec 3rd, 2020 at 7:29pm
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So I send off letters to the two, and also one to the Michigan Historical Society. Along with the two historical letters I included a return envelope, plus a small donation for any provenance they can give me on Flues. And to the DGJ I sent monies for a back issue, because Gary said they'd done a biography on Flues, and his guns!
A month later I got a nice packet of information from each society, and a issue of the DGJ with a biography on E Flues. The biography was written by Emil Flues' nephew, so I wrote back to the DGJ asking if they would forward a letter to the nephew with my address and phone number.
In the meantime I read through the info and discovered Emil Flues was apprenticed to a gunsmith at age 14, and spent 4 years under him. When he finished, he was made a partner in the shop, and continued to work there. He was also an avid shooter, and secretary of the Bay City Schuetzen Club, where he built numerous schuetzen rifles for club members.
Later as schuetzen began to slow down, he turned to shotguns, and began building SxS and over/under shotguns. This lead to Flues being offered a position at Ithaca as a designer, which he accepted. He spent 30+ years at Ithaca, and the Ithaca Flues Model was named after Emil Flues' design.
At the same time he also built custom shotguns at his home shop. After retiring, he continued to build fine custom shotguns from scratch, and his guns sold for very high prices. Flues lived to 90 years old and died in I believe 1949 or 1950? 
 
After a couple weeks my phone rang, and the person introduced himself as Email Flues nephew. I explained the gun I had here, and he asked me to tell him the number on the barrel. I had to call him back, as the 1881 forearms don't come off as fast as our single shots do! Under the forearm wood was "#100 TESTED"
A call back to his nephew with the number and he told me the gun was custom built for a Judge John Harriman, who was a friend, and member of the schuetzen club. The judge lived in Saginaw, Mi., so no idea how the rifle got out here to Oregon? So no info beyond who made it, and who requested the build?
It's a .40 Cal. which means .40-60 Marlin. The buttplate appears to be a small Ballard, which also has the same stamp inside as the barrel has. E FLUES BAY CITY. The wood has a crack in the wrist from someone likely falling with this gun, but it was repaired when I got it. Not a perfect repair, but I've never wanted to try to improve it.
cont.
  

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marlinguy
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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #3 - Dec 3rd, 2020 at 7:36pm
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The gun has a Ballard Mid-range vernier tang sight, Win. fixed globe front sight, and a Marlin barrel Rocky Mountain rear sight. The stocks are very high grade, and the screw heads are all engraved, but no receiver engraving like most of Flues shotguns were. Most 1881 Marlins were blued receivers, but color case was optional. This one is color cased, but not sure it's Marlin's work, or Flues' work?

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Not much case color left, just enough to note it was CCH. The barrel is a very rare 24", of which I think maybe 200 were in the records? The checkering is not Marlin, and I'd guess the stocks and stock work were done by Flues. His nephew said particulars of the rifle weren't in the records.
I still shoot it occasionally, as it's a very accurate gun, and I enjoy shooting it. But it sits in the back of a safe behind my Ballard rifles most the time, until I see it, and spend some time with it again.
A small note here! Emil's nephew told me that my lever action repeater was the only rifle in his books that wasn't a single shot! All his records showed either single shot rifles, or shotguns, with just this one repeater built.
« Last Edit: Dec 3rd, 2020 at 7:43pm by marlinguy »  

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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #4 - Dec 3rd, 2020 at 8:05pm
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Boy oh boy oh boy !!! What a find. What a neat Marlin & story to go with it. Your a very lucky guy Vall.  Dale.
  

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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #5 - Dec 3rd, 2020 at 8:12pm
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Vall, great write up.  Must say, you are one tall dog with a collection that any of us would slobber drooling to own.  Thanks Again for the Write Up
  

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marlinguy
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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #6 - Dec 3rd, 2020 at 8:29pm
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Thank you Dale and John!

I do have one clue that might explain how this flues rifle ended up here in Portland, Oregon. Some documents have been found showing Emil's brother or son(?) Edward Flues had moved to Portland, Or. and worked as a saw filer here for the lumber industry. There's a chance he somehow ended up with this 1881 maybe, and brought it out with him.
I was told Edw. Flues owned a number of Flues fine shotguns, and rifles, and somehow all had been stolen. An ad was put in a magazine before WWII looking for a particular Kornbrath engraved shotgun that Flues had built, and was stolen from him.

"Hunting and Fishing Magazine, November 1930, classified section. "Reward.....Stolen, 12 gauge shotgun, 28 inch barrels: E.F. Flues, Maker: action engraved: gold mountings. Edw. Flues, 40 W. Watts Street, Portland, Oregon."
  

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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #7 - Dec 3rd, 2020 at 8:44pm
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Really neat rifle and story! I bought a rifle out of a barrel at a surplus store a long time ago- 't warn't as neat as the one you got.
  

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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #8 - Dec 3rd, 2020 at 11:52pm
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Thanks for posting this story, it was very much appreciated. 
Lee Gibbs
  
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marlinguy
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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #9 - Dec 3rd, 2020 at 11:55pm
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Thanks Pat. And thanks Lee for letting me post this non single shot story.
  

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marlinguy
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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #10 - Dec 4th, 2020 at 12:03am
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calledflyer wrote on Dec 3rd, 2020 at 8:44pm:
Really neat rifle and story! I bought a rifle out of a barrel at a surplus store a long time ago- 't warn't as neat as the one you got.


When we were kids in our early teens, a few of us really loved to play war. We went to the local Army surplus store a mile away on our bikes, and bought web gear, canteens, and whatever we could save to purchase each Friday.
I kept looking at their barrel of junk guns, and the owner asked me one day if I was going to buy one, or wear them out looking! I thought we couldn't buy them, but he said anything in the barrel was beyond repair, so we didn't need to be 18 yrs. old. Not sure he was right, or desperate to sell the junk, but for $2.50 each, we all left with some old bolt action, or Rolling Block that was incomplete.
The next week we returned with a parts list to make each gun appear complete, and bought .50-.75 cents in parts too. We ran all over the neighborhood yelling bang-bang at each other in our GI gear and real guns. Try that today!
We mowed a lot of lawns at $1.50 ea. to buy all that stuff. I still don't know what happened to any of it, but it all disappeared at some point.
  

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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #11 - Dec 4th, 2020 at 2:58am
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Vall, I had an Emil Flues on Martini.  I'm not sure you were here early enough to see it.  I know we talked about it at one time.

The rifles from barrels reminded me of Carl Peterson's story as I was admiring his deluxe Browning .45-70 in about 1962.  Same story, except in the corner of an antique shop which he said seemed to specialize in lamps and pillows, price was under $100.
  

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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #12 - Dec 4th, 2020 at 8:08am
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Great find! I love these kind of stories, but even more so when they happen to me!  Wink

Years ago, I bought a fairly nice, well-made muzzleloader with some engraving, lollypop tang sight and pin head globe front sight in a small shop up north of me; mostly because it was $40.  Cool
After doing some research, I discovered that it was made by G.D.H Gillespie (a NYC maker known mostly for his derringers), and on the bottom of the barrel was the name Bowie Dash. The only Bowie Dash I found was one of the first large coffee importers in this country and had some association with the Roosevelts and other NY high society.

How that rifle ended up where it did, about 350 mi. from NYC is a mystery.
I also once picked up a Georg Teschner (mentor and FIL of Collath)needle-fire rifle in another small shop I haunted, but that's another story . . .
  
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marlinguy
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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #13 - Dec 4th, 2020 at 10:36am
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Sounds like some interesting guns gewehrfreund, and the kind of guns I enjoy also!
I've got an old Harrington & Richardson .22 target revolver that I bought from a friend last year, simply because of the holster it was in, and the story. He told me that back in the 70's his next door neighbor's husband had passed away, and he was an electrician (like myself) and had been doing various repairs for the widow. He told me each time he fixed something she would make him take some change from a bowl she kept. Usually less than a dollar, and he said it just seemed like she wanted to give him some token payment.
Then one day she asked if he liked firearms, and he did. So she went to a drawer and pulled out this old flap holster, and handed it to him. Inside was a minty H&R target pistol from the late 1920's! She told him her husband had purchased it brand new from a shop when they lived in Ogden, Utah. And she said he bought the holster at the same time, as the shop was having a sale because they were closing their shop for good.
When he showed me the H&R I was impressed with the condition, but not interested as it just wasn't my area of interest. The holster interested me more, just because it was unusual, and nice shape. I turned it over to see a maker's mark and saw, "Browning Bros. Ogden, Utah" stamped on the back in an oval. At that point I got interested, and bought the gun and holster from him.
Browning Bros. shop in Ogden went out of business in around 1929, and this is one of the last guns and holsters sold from their shop before they closed.
  

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marlinguy
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Re: OT-1881 Marlin schuetzen rifle
Reply #14 - Dec 4th, 2020 at 10:46am
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terry buffum wrote on Dec 4th, 2020 at 2:58am:
Vall, I had an Emil Flues on Martini.  I'm not sure you were here early enough to see it.  I know we talked about it at one time.

The rifles from barrels reminded me of Carl Peterson's story as I was admiring his deluxe Browning .45-70 in about 1962.  Same story, except in the corner of an antique shop which he said seemed to specialize in lamps and pillows, price was under $100.


No, I didn't see the Martini Terry, and had I, I'd have tried to make a deal with you to have it with my 1881 Flues. 
My Zettler Bros. Ballard #6 in .22 Short came from an antique shop in Maine, or Vermont. The man I bought it from wasn't a gun guy, but loved vacationing in the NE and said his wife and he always hit antique shops there. 
He told me they'd walked into this shop, and saw the old Ballard for sale. The shop had no idea of it's value, and he said neither did he. But he knew it was way too cheap, so he bought it. Then he immediately put it up for sale on what was Auction Arms years ago, and a friend saw it and called me. I took a quick look and did the Buy It Now immediately, as even with his good mark up, it was still too cheap.
When it arrived here I checked to ensure the Stevens scope on it was not damaged, and the gun was in good shape. Then I saw the rings the Stevens scope was mounted in! A pair of HM Pope scope rings, with an even rarer pair of HM Pope scope bases designed for his clam shell clamps. Every gun I've seen had the Pope cuts in the barrel to mount his rings, but this one has Pope's bases on the barrel instead. I'd seen the bases advertised, but never seen a gun with them on it.
  

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