J.C. Higgins was the name brand used by Sears for the sporting goods and firearms sold by the retailer at their department stores from 1908 to 1962 (when the Ted Williams name took over).
This model 41 rifle was actually a Marlin model 101. The Marlin 101 was made between 1941 and 1977. Because very few .22 rifles were made for retail sale during the war we can probably estimate this gun to be either 1941 vintage or 1946 to 1961.
Sometimes you can tell the vintage by the use of plastics which started in the late '50's (see my post on the Springfield model 83), but I haven't seen the stock or other parts, so I can't really guess on the age of the gun.
The rifle had some minor pitting and lots of surface rust, here are the before pictures
Naval Jelly residue, removing the rust and what was left of the original bluing
Polishing the metal:
before and after comparison