The Sico is a camera for 30×40 mm exposures on unperforated 35 mm film (with a backing paper). It was made by Wolfgang Simons & Company of Bern, Switzerland, from about 1923. In its shape and overall design, it seems to be a copy of the Minnigraph of 1915, though for different film and image size.
The camera has a wooden body; in form, this is a rectangular box with one bevelled corner on the left of the front panel. It has mostly brass fittings. On one side there is a folding frame finder. If this side is taken to be the top, then there is a frame-counter on the bottom, which counts to 25 (a circular scale with a rotating arrow pointer). On the back, there is a red window under a sliding cover; however, the camera seems to have automatic frame-spacing, and the red window of one example sold at Westlicht has been covered permanently.
The lens is either a 6 cm f/3.5 Rüdersdorf Anastigmat (listings at Westlicht identify the lens as Rüo anastigmat, presumably named for Ruedersdorf) or an f/6.8 Goerz Dagor double-anastigmat. The shutter is a dial-set Compur with speeds 1 - 1/300 second, plus 'B' and 'T', set in a helical focusing mount on the front of the camera.
The film is passed between two rather wide spools; with the orientation as described above, the uptake spool is on the left. There is no winding knob: the tab on the left hand end of the camera is the film advance control: the tab pulls a rod linked to the advance mechanism, and the stroke of the rod is reduced with each frame, to keep the frame-spacing constant as the diameter of the uptake spool is increased by the film aready on it. This mechanism was the subject of a patent by Simons and a partner.
Also on the left-hand end are a brass carrying-handle and the catch to open the back.
McKeown also lists a later, and rarer, second model. This has a larger body, still wooden but covered with leather. Both ends of the front panel are bevelled on this camera. Its lens is a 6 cm f/4.5 Tessar, and the shutter is a rim-set Compur, and other controls are also different from the earlier camera.
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). p894.
- Sico, serial no. 32, sold in the eighth Westlicht Photographica Auction, on 27 November 2005.
- British patent GB 195351, Improvements in film-feed mechanism for roll-film photographic apparatus, lodged 1922, and granted 1924 to Dr. Alfred Huber and Wolfgang Simons; at Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office.
Further examples in past auctions
- Sico serial no. 23, with the Rüdersdorf 6 cm f/3.5, sold at the 23rd Westlicht auction, on 25 May 2013.
- Sico serial no. 82, sold at the seventeenth Westlicht auction, on 29 May 2010. This example has the Rüdersdorf 6 cm f/3.5 lens. The red window is intact. One photograph shows the film chamber; the uptake spool is smaller (and looks a bad fit) so may not be original. It has a very worn brass plate on the back.
- Sico in the 'previous auction highlights' page at Auction Team Breker. This example also has the plate on the back, with a readable exposure guide.
- Sico serial number 240, sold at the fifth Westlicht auction, on 29 May 2004.
Patents relating to the camera
- British patent GB 195348, Improvements relating to roll-film cameras and projection apparatus for use therein, lodged 1922, and granted 1924 to Dr. Alfred Huber and Wolfgang Simons; at Espacenet. This patent concerns a lamp-house and condenser for attachment to a camera back, to form an enlarger or projector using the camera's film-transport system and lens. The camera shown is clearly a Sico. Austrian patent AT 95780 (B) is essentially the same.
- British patent GB 212566 (A), Improvements in and relating to roll-film camera backs, lodged 1922, and granted 1924 to Dr. Alfred Huber and Wolfgang Simons; at Espacenet. This patent describes a contact printing frame which can be substituted for the back of a camera. Negatives are mounted in the frame, to make same-size positives on an unexposed film in the camera. Though this is not relevant to the principle of the device, the patent describes the film-feed mechanism of the Sico.