- Antique and Vintage Cameras

Early model Sibyl Serial Numbers

These data cover the Early Sibyl models introduced before the Baby, New Special and New Ideal.

Click on the graph to display an interactive version in a new window.

The graph above plots camera serial numbers against lens numbers. Most of the data comes from sales catalogues and similar sources and, of course, may suffer from transcription and other errors. The lens scales should not be compared one to another as they do not reflect the different rates of production of the lens makers.

The Sibyl was announced in the 1906 British Journal Almanac (published in late 1905) and was reviewed in the editorial section. The editorial, which is accompanied by a photograph, states that they are one of the first to have inspected the camera. The same announcement appeared the following year in the 1907 almanac. In 1908 the advertisement changes and is accompanied by a line drawing of the camera.1

The Sibyl was going to be an important product for N&G so it is odd that so little was made of the camera in the 1907 almanac. Four cameras that still exist up to serial number 24 are fitted with Cooke lenses in the range 16420 - 16450. The next recorded serial number is 29 which is fitted with lens number 18709 a jump of over 2250. There could be many reasons for this but coupled with the lack of advertising in 1907 one explanation is that a few cameras were made at the end of 1905 and the beginning of 1906. Production then ceased until some time in 1907. Guardia's death in June 1906 and Newman's problems within the company following the death may have caused the halt in production.2

Sibyl Numbering
The original model Sibyl (later called the Ordinary) had a numeric serial number without a prefix and was numbered from 1. This series was carried on with the Imperial range. Other Sibyls introduced after the original model had a letter prefix and in the case of the Special a similar suffix.3 The prefixes used were:
  • S - Special.
  • D - De Luxe.
  • PC - Postcard.
  • RF - Roll-film.
No serial numbers below 100 have been recorded for Special, De Luxe, Postcard or Roll-film cameras and it is assumed that numbering started at 100.

The Special model has two types of serial number - Sxxx and SxxxS. The plate version was available in two sizes - 1/4 plate and 2 ½" x 3 ½", the larger size was available with two different lens focal length.

Sibyl Production
N&G produced cameras in very small batches that were hand-assembled; far from assembly line methods. Lenses would have been bought in small quantities to match a batch of cameras, the evidence for this is the way lens numbers run nearly consecutively for small runs and match a group of camera numbers (this is most evident on the earlier Sibyls). Most metal parts of the camera have part of the serial number scratched on the back, this would have helped the workman in hand-finishing and fitting the roughed-out components when assembling the cameras.

Production Numbers
Numbering of the Sibyl and later Imperial start at 1, the last recorded camera is just over 800 and this would be a fair indication of the number of cameras made.

There are fewer examples of the other Sibyl models so it is difficult to estimate numbers. The highest serial numbers for the Special and Roll-film models are around 360 and 320 respectively, assuming numbering started at 100 that would imply a little over 260 and 220 examples (production of these models would have ended in 1913 with the introduction of the New Special and New Ideal models and lens serial numbers of recorded cameras are for the 1913 period).


No.LensDateSource (C = Christie, P = Phillips, S = Sotheby)
1396102Zeiss1906C 9/7/81, 180Aluminium front to shutter. Lens out of sequence
2416431TTH1906Aluminium front to shutter
2918709TTH1907TeamworkSmall size
5818718TTHSmall. Brass lens single focusing pos. + O on blades
13719408TTHC 9/1/92, 12090/92 Shaftesbury
15896098ZeissSmall size. 90-92 Shaft.
16096105ZeissPhot. World 62Small size
17719426TTH90/92 Shaftesbury. Small size
20391706ZeissSmall size
20791708ZeissC 24/11/94, 301
20991711ZeissTheft from N&G mid 1908Small size
21318688TTHTheft from N&G mid 1908Small size
230ZeissTessar. Small size
253104250ZeissTheft from N&G mid 1908Small size
254103369ZeissTheft from N&G mid 1908Large size
26819491TTHC 13/8/81, 81Large size
26919492TTHC 24/4/86, 61Small size
27319496TTHTheft from N&G mid 1908Small size
27419497TTHTheft from N&G mid 1908Small size
27519498TTHTheft from N&G mid 1908Small size
27619499TTHTheft from N&G mid 1908Small size
27719500TTHTheft from N&G mid 1908Small size
278103383ZeissTheft from N&G mid 1908Large size
282103387ZeissTheft from N&G mid 1908Large size
283103388Zeiss1908Theft from N&G mid 1908Large size
29319501TTHC 9/1/92, 12017/18 Rathbone
311104580ZeissFlints 8/20Model 5
318103396ZeissC 4/86Large size
319103400ZeissC 21/2/85, 42Large size
34619515TTHSmall size
34819517TTHSmall size. 90-92 Shaftesbury
370105761ZeissC 25/11/93, 357Lens supplied late 1908
389108834ZeissWestLicht 12/2010Small size
391104586ZeissC 17/1/85, 46Small size
429112885ZeissC 25/11/93, 355No. 3. Lens supplied late 1909
434112892ZeissC 11/4/85, 47Large size
43721788TTHC 14/10/82, 91Sibyl-Cooke. 17/18 Rathbone
616C 21/2/85, 67
651131065Zeiss1911C 22/1/81, 316Lens d. 1910
73830676TTHPhot. World 62Large size
74631558TTHModel no 5
80417782Ross-ZeissC 24/11/94, 301

Special Sibyl

No.LensDateSource (C = Christie, P = Phillips, S = Sotheby)
S106113373Zeiss190917/18 Rathbone
S112From a Special Sibyl1/4 plate. Lens 113369
S121S119424ZeissLothrop col.
S137116346Zeiss1909C 16/9/82, 2101/4 plate. 17/18 Rathbone
S137s119444ZeissC 19/11/02 489Small size. Lens suppl. 1909
S146SP 12/3/80, 57Small size. Model 7
S157S121539Zeiss6.5 x 9cm Rathbone
S190s127517ZeissModel 7
S190133707Zeiss1911Special Sibyl1/4 plate
S219S127559C 27/5/82, 125Small size
S226Model 2c
S263s137877ZeissModel 7
S28816560Ross-ZeissFlints 10/2019Ross Tessar f/4.5 112mm
S295S160952ZeissC 14/2/06, 336Small size. Lens suppl. c.1912
S305s160962ZeissC 5/12/85, 94Small size
S318S165125ZeissC 11/12/02, 58; 9/5/91, 145Small size. Model 7
S359s176246Zeiss1913Special SibylSmall size
S360182843ZeissPhot. World 62
S361S182874Zeiss1913C 3/3/83, 195Small size

Roll-film Sibyl

No.LensDateSource (C = Christie, P = Phillips, S = Sotheby)
RF106133735Zeiss1912C 21/8/80, 31
RF119134602ZeissC 9/5/91, 14Lens supplied c. 1911
RF130175178ZeissModel 16
RF182175194ZeissRoll-film Sibyl
RF321191046Zeiss1913C 19/9/91, 231Also marked A321

Postcard Sibyl

No.LensDateSource (C = Christie, P = Phillips, S = Sotheby)
PC107114548ZeissFlints 6/22f6.3
PC119146316ZeissPhot. World 62
PC12316837Ross-ZeissPostcard Sibyl
PC136176722ZeissC 16/7/87, 398Lens supplied c. 1913
PC146106306RossBonhams 12/5/09, 543f4.5 Xpres
PC167169763ZeissC 17/1/85, 253Lens Supplied c. 1912
PC177169768ZeissC 18/1/96, 485f6.3

Sibyl De Luxe

No.LensDateSource (C = Christie, P = Phillips, S = Sotheby)
D106117243ZeissC 17/7/01, 388Lens supplied 1909
D109110135Zeiss1909Sibyl De Luxe
D120117222Zeiss1910C 6/9/05, 361Lens supplied 1909
D138119773ZeissPhot. World 62
D142119781ZeissC 24/11/94, 336
D151129471Zeiss1911Sibyl De Luxe
D152129473Zeiss2nd lens either 129474 or 129475
D156129481ZeissC 26/1/84, 176
D186167955ZeissC 20/9/90, 159
D192171668Zeiss1912C 9/5/91, 146

Imperial Sibyl

No.LensDateSource (C = Christie, P = Phillips, S = Sotheby)
460112879ZeissC 16/10/86, 120
500113233ZeissPhot. World 62
67716456Ross-Zeiss1911Sibyl Imperial
688134982Zeiss1912C 17/1/97, 15Lens supplied c. 1911
718159454ZeissC 2/9/99, 353Model 8
733159469ZeissSibyl Imperial
773139182ZeissSibyl Imperial
779183978Zeiss1913C 26/5/83, 270

References & Notes

Further Information:
A good series of articles on the Sibyl by Antony Manthos was published in Photographica World numbers 58 - 63. The serial number data comes from other sources and overlaps the data used here.

[1] BJA 1906, pp. 142, 875. BJA 1907, p. 1550-1A. BJA 1908, p. 80. The camera illustrated in the 1906 review has some slight differences to the production model (serial no. 2), the illustration shows a solid plate holding the view-finder and there are no index plates under the shutter controls.

[2] There are minor differences between the very early examples and those of around 1908 but nothing that could be thought of as a need to re-design components of the camera and thereby cause delay. N&G announced the Nydia several years before it was eventually placed on the market, the reason given was that they needed to concentrate on the Universal range, could the delay in launching the Sibyl be for similar reasons? In 1906 the Square Reflector had been launched and the Universals were coming to an end so production capacity should have been available.

[3] The S prefix but without the suffix was used on cameras supplied by N&G to the London Stereoscopic co.

N&G Early Sibyl

N&G Later Sibyl

Universal, Square Reflector

N&G Folding Reflex

N&G Nydia N&G Trellis




Houghton (Ensign, H-B)

Soho Kershaw



Newman Sinclair Reflex


Periflex Corfield 66

Wrayflex Witness

Lenses -
Ross Dallmeyer

TTH Wray Beck Aldis

Ross-Zeiss Ross-Goerz

Carl Zeiss Goerz Meyer

Voigtländer Grubb