According to Brophy in his book on Marlin Firearms it was around 1950. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a "G" serial number 12 ga. Model 90 made in 1950 that is open between the barrels. I have a "D" serial number 16 ga. made in 1947 that has the rib. However, there must have been a transition period because I also have a "D" serial number 12 ga made in 1947 without a rib between the barrels. The best reference book on Model 90's is "Marlin Firearms, A History of the Guns and the Company that Made Them" by Brophy published in 1989 by Stackpole Books. It is out of print but I bought my copy on eBay. Do an internet search and you will find it listed by other internet book sellers. I initially got a copy to read through inter-library loan at our local library. Brophy devoted 8 pages to the Model 90, and on page 629 is a list of date codes.
Introduced in 1937, there are no serial number records for Model 90's made prior to WWII. After WWII Marlin started using a letter prefix in the serial number to indicate the year made. For example, D-1947, E-1948, F-1949, G-1950, etc. Marlin did not use an I, O or Q in the serial numbers. Very early Model 90's may have had an oval with ducks "engraved" on the frame. Around 1939 to 1941 some Model 90's came with a bird dog scene on the frame.
Thanks Barkey I should have my model 90 in a day or so and i'll be in touch with the serial #! As for the Brophy book i'm sure it's a good read, but many questionable facts are in there. I own a Glenfield Model 25 rollstamped on the barrel given to me by my dad almost 10 years before Brophys states they were even made!
Because there apparently are very few Marlin factory records, Brophy had to rely on interviews, old Marlin catalogs and other sources, some obviously more reliable than others. I've been able to communicate with, and have learned a lot about Model 90's, from a number of long-time members of the Marlin Collectors Association who collect old catalogs and other Marlin memorabilia. I got their names from member lists in the quarterly Marlin Collector newsletter, and they have generally been very willing to talk to me by phone or by exchangeing emails. There are also a number of folks who post on the 16 ga. com web site who know a lot about Model 90's.
I'm definitely interested in learning all about your "new" Model 90 after you get it.
Will do! The bores are pristine on this gun! Bright shiny and not a mark! I do have a crack near the tang on top.
I can fix that, but not sure if I should refinish the gun or not. There's some really nice figure in the butt stock. Not bad lookin for a gun that may be 70 years old! So you say the Rangers were pre WWII? Wish I knew the year for sure. I can't wait to shoot it! I'm like a kid with a new toy! ;D
See my PM. The fact that it is a Sears Ranger puts it between 1937 and 1941. After WWII Sears branded them as JC Higgins. The style of checkering and the 2nd generation forearm suggest to me that it was probably made between 1939 and 1941. Unfortunately, I don't know if there is any way to determine the specific year it was made or how many were made.