Tue 09-Apr-13 11:00 PM | edited Wed 10-Apr-13 10:18 AM by blw
I don't think that you can necessarily make the assumption that numbers should be monotonically increasing. There are a wide variety of paths from the factory to you. As just one possibility, suppose that #3 had been previously reserved, possibly with a deposit - but then the purchaser had walked in and bought a D800 instead. The older stock has been inventory for a while, and now it's available - voila, you get a perfectly new, unopened item with an older serial number. (I know how this can happen, I was that guy one time, although that was a lens.)
An even simpler scenario is this: the retailer received two pallets of cameras. Then they received ten more pallets. After selling many but not all of them, another five pallets showed up. These aren't steaks or bananas: they aren't perishable. I'll bet that down in the warehouse they do not even think about sending them out in serial number order. At a large outfit like Amazon, there are a dozen (literally) different warehouses that maintain stock, and you can be positive that there is no coordination between warehouses as to sequentiality of serial numbers. They wouldn't do that even if that they took delivery of solid blocks of serial numbers in the first place, which itself is a highly questionable assumption.
For that matter, an explanation that is as possible as any others is that one box got misplaced in the warehouse and just got found!
Any number of other explanations are possible - including refurb and returned units. But I don't really think you can make any reliable guess as to what's happening based solely on the serial numbers. As an example, I got a 200/f4 Micro at my brick and mortar retailer. It has a serial number that is very early in the production run, probably in the late 1990s. Neither I nor the retailer (who I trust) can explain how a ten-year-old item might have gotten to me a few years ago, but it was almost certainly not ever used, and its performance has been beyond reproach.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!