Serial Numbers 'Where Are They?'


I thought this might be a useful addition to the site to help those searching for that elusive serial number, so they can send the details of their cameras to me. I will add further cameras as time goes on but here are a few to be getting on with. Also some details of the differing models as this will also help with identification. I am interested in all models made by Houghton's, Houghton-Butcher, Ensign, Barnet-Ensign, Ross Ensign.


Models I am seeking further information on:

Tropical Carbines

Look under the lens panel and around the top of the lens for the cameras Model and a serial number. The serial number is under the main lens panel.


If you take the back off the Ensignette. The number is stamped along the edge of the camera as the arrow indicates, on the opposite side to the catch. It is also written on the inside of the back plate, sometimes around the Red Window or at the bottom near the locating edge of the back. Sometimes it is stamped sometimes written in pencil.


On the right hand side of the top plate under Model .0 next to the direct viewfinder usually prefixed with an H.

Selfix 16-20 Series (Model I)


Poor picture but you can see the 16-20 Model I camera has a fixed viewfinder housing of metal.

Selfix 16-20 Series (Model II)

This 16-20 Model II has a flip up Albada view finder.

Selfix 820 Series (includes 820 Special & Autorange Models)


The Red Arrow marks the position of a little foot that is used to lay the camera horizontally on a flat surface to take 'Landscape' pictures. It sits behind the lens panel but if rotated outwards, the # number can be seen on the side that was hidden by the camera. Ingenious way of hiding the number. Figure II shows the serial number as revealed when viewing from the front of the camera.

The 'Popular Ensign' (Includes 21/4 and 3 1/4 models)

These have a serial number embossed into the wood frame surrounding the lens panel. They have prefixes like B, E & F usually with a 4 digit number looking like this, E 1234. Not easy to read as the picture below shows which is why it has taken me a while to find them. Using an illuminated magnifier helps.

Details on Lenses

These are essential as they tell me what the camera model is. Often denoted by the lens. Numbers are most often stamped or painted around the inside edge of the lens or engraved around the outer edge of the focusing ring. The search can be very frustrating however, because manufacturers stopped marking their cheap lenses after the war. So some lenses do not have serial numbers and even on those that do the printing is often in very small letters.


Lenses that generally have serial numbers are:

Lenses that generally don't have serial numbers are:

  • Aldis

  • Cooke

  • Ensar

  • Multar

  • Tessar

  • Rostar

  • Xpres

  • Simple meniscus

  • Peri

  • All distance lens


Finished listing

Ideally the form should look something like this when finished.


Body Serial No: F 3126
Lens Serial No: NONE
Shutter: TRICHRO T B 25 50 100
Shutter Serial: NONE

Please include any letter prefixes e.g. F 3126. As this helps me identify the model.


Thanks for taking the time to look.

Back to: Ensign Serial No's