Initially designed for sale in camera, drug and gift stores, View-Master production dates to From there, the line of titles grew to include a host of scenic attractions featuring everything from Crater Lake, Oregon, to Miami Beach, Florida.
Vintage View-Masters and Reels
Sawyer's and GAF. With approx. Photo courtesy Auction Team Breker. In the early s, film and paper were scarce, and View-Master production nearly came to a halt, due to the onset of World War II. However, a large contract to produce airplane and ship identification and range estimation reels saved the product from potential oblivion.
Dozens of reel titles came to be using the great diorama effect created by tabletop photography. Keeping ahead of the competition, View-Master purchased the assets of its main rival, Tru-Vue, in This acquisition resulted in obtaining the license to use Disney characters, previously held by Tru-Vue. Since that time, the company has produced many Disney and other cartoon and character favorites. Some of these were as clay figures, others as stereo cells, and still, others use actual products in the reel set up, as was the case with Barbie and G.
All reels since the company began are viewable in any viewer. Newer reels from the last few years have a colorful sticker over the center hole but still, work in any viewer. InFisher-Price came forth with a new viewer where the reel enters horizontally rather than vertically, but that design was the subject of a dismiss.
In the late s and early s, View-Master brought forth character viewers Mickey Mouse, Big Bird, Batman, Casper, etcbut these were short-lived and abandoned in favor of colorful versions of regular production viewers.
Today viewers and reels are produced by Basic Fun under an agreement with Fisher-Price. There is a wide variety of gift sets and reels with colorful graphics. These new titles can be found online and in many retail stores.
Condition determines value. As with any other paper collectible, it is important that View-Master reels be free of mold, mildew, brown foxing spots, etc. Reels missing scenes are virtually worthless. Three-reel packets need to be complete with outer color envelope, three reels, and inner story booklet if indicated.View-Master reels featured beautiful photography of famous places and people through the s.
Medical schools and the U. In the s, View-Master underwent a change of ownership and became increasingly targeted at children. Though the look of the viewers themselves has changed over time the reels have remained consistent.
Any View-Master brand viewer will show any View-Master brand reel from any decade. Most vintage items are relatively inexpensive, but the price goes up exponentially for rare items. Let me know. This website provides not only detailed information on every View-Master branded viewer in existence but a long list of knock-off brands with detailed photos and specifications.
The site also features images of rare variants in viewers, such as unusual materials or colors used in production. Most importantly for collectors, it offers detailed specifications on the internal projection and overall quality of each View-Master viewer.
While it promotes itself as an animated, searchable list of individual reels, the best thing about this website is the degree videos of every View-Master brand viewer produced since This is the most comprehensive visual representation online, featuring 20 distinct viewers and their various attachments. There is also an area to view degree videos of each of the four View-Master projectors available on the collectors market.
The Ultimate Reel List is an invaluable resource. It lists every known reel by logical numeric or alphabetical grouping as well as every known variant in images. Just as valuable to collectors, the list provides every known variant of packaging and examples of the various types of packages View-Master employed over the years. The site is hosted by 3DStereo. When Baird died, 3DStereo. The View-Master Database.
From their site: As there was no official list of titles, this View-Master Database is an attempt to build a complete list of every individual reel, set, and their variants known to have been issued. It is hoped that the site will be of value to collectors and can continue to be expanded in the future. View-Master Single Reel Variants.
From the site: The aim is to make the most comprehensive and complete list of known variations within the same reel variety. In early it was announced that Basic Fun had licensed the View-Master name from Fisher-Price and is producing new products but they are cheap and basically a nostalgic thing for parents and grandparents to buy little kids. The View-Master Resource provides information on creating personal view-master reels. However, it also helpfully provides scans of envelopes and packaging so if a collector acquires a set of reels without the original envelope it came in, they can print a reproduction from a.
One of the few print resources for View-Master history and values, this exhaustive guide provides a history and context—as well as a price guide that lists most known reels and approximate values at the time of publication. However, it does not list reel variants.
Higher values items are generally rare so this book provides a quick reference for what reels are rare and thus worth the added expense, even if the exact market price is outdated.
It also provides a history of the precursor to View-Master, the stereoscope and detailed information on the collectability of stereoscopic photo sets. This is a limited edition book written by the foremost View-Master historians and collectors.
This book offers both a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the company from interviews conducted with former employees and detailed information about collecting View-Master products. This is a members-only group populated with some of the most knowledgeable View-Master collectors in the world.The lettering on single reels differs from the lettering on the later produced reels from 3-reel packets. Not in the least because of the different production periods.
The first Single reels were produced inthe first 3-reel packets in So, to my knowledge, there are no hand-lettered reels ever sold in packets. Furthermore, only a few packets have reels with 'Sawyers' or 'Sawyers Inc.
Almost all 3-reel packet reels have the A, B, or C as a prefix or suffix to the reel number. But on the other hand some reels sold as single reel also have one of those characters as a suffix.
Later on when single reels were issued in blister packs they all got some letters as a prefix to the number. On this page only the reel varieties for single reels are listed. Reel varieties used on the single reels from blister packs are not listed on this page.
In his book he describes almost all known varieties. If all these varieties are from 'Single Reels' is questionable. Many of the pictured varieties have a prefix or suffix or a description as, for example, 'Reel One'. The varieties of which I am not sure that they were on single reels I have not listed here. This is especially the case with the varieties starting at variety 50, with left from the center hole 'View-Master Reel' instead of 'Sawyer's'.
I guess most of those reel varieties came from packets. Starting with varietysome of the varieties numbered by Roger Nazely where made in Belgium. The scarce reels made in Australia and the rare reels made in France or made in India aren't listed in the classification by Roger.
As an addition to the varieties numbered by Roger, Brad and Julie Welsch describe the varieties or 'style' as they like to name it 21a and 62a in their book Sources 2. And as a further addition there are some varieties known mainly 'made in Belgium' that aren't described in both books. The extra varieties I know are listed at the end of this page.
Sawyer's Typeset U. V-M Typeset Belgium Typeset extra. The only circular printed variety. Common on older reels. The only variety on 'Gold foil' reel styles.Making viewmaster slides
There is a small difference between 2 circular printed varieties. This is the early variety with 'PAT. Common Variety 1 P Easy to recognize. Common Variety 2 'Sawyers' in italics left from center. Three lines right from center. Fairly common Variety 3 'Sawyer's' in normal print left from center. Four lines right from center.What a pro! I'm a 67 yo artist, collector, chef and entertainer who will place this refurbished gem in my living space for all guests to enjoy Mo in Michigan.
Thank you so much! Good job on fixing your viewmaster, they look great once the optics are cleared. You're a Chef?
I have a post coming up next month on cast iron skillet refurbishing. You may like those post. Found your article on cleaning the View Master very informative but can you tell me how to unstick the advance lever? It goes down okay but does not automatically go back up; I have to give it a nudge to do so. If you can give me a tip I would really appreciate it. I purchased an auction lot of reels, hoping to fill in some gaps in my collection.
Sadly, when they arrived, the reels were all too bowed to fit and function in any of my viewers.
Any suggestions on the best method to flatten them? Anything NOT to do? Thanks in advance! Like to know what type of glue to use on an old reel that has separated to the point you can see exposed film Also I wouldn't want to start a fire because I use some of my reels on the watt deluxe projector from time to time. Have Questions? The earliest reels date back to and are made from Kodachrome slide film. Great care is needed when storing photographic film.
Improper storage can result in fading, mold, scratches and dust. Kodak recommends cool, dark and airtight containers.More than one billion View-Master reels have been issued since this unique stereophotographic format was invented and first commercially released in Over the years View-Master, under various corporate owners, has published contemporaneous lists or catalogs of single reels and multiple-reel packets, but there has never been an "official" cumulative list of all View-Master issues.
It has been left for collectors to unearth and document the complete range of View-Master titles. The View-Master URL draws from a variety of sources to build as comprehensive a list as possible of every individual reel and multi-reel set, and their variants, known to have been issued. The List is necessarily a work-in-progress, subject to continual refinement: additions, and revisions. The List is divided into pages sufficiently small for convenient transfer and to avoid problems with browsers formatting the page, but still large enough for a meaningful spread of information.
The List is viewable at any window size, but opening the window to your full screen width minimizes line-wraps within cells. Setting your browser's font size as small as you can tolerate also helps. A few entries in the List include hypertext notes.
With some browsers, selecting the link opens a separate window to display the appropriate notes page single reel3-reel packetor blisterpack ; the window can be re-sized, moved aside, and left open to display other notes encountered while browsing the List.
The single reel and packet variant galleries include large image files.
Focusing on View-Master history and value
You may wish to set your browser to "graphics off" mode before accessing these pages, then load the images after acquiring the text. We are working to update the URL so that it is searchable by name, title, code, etc. Please bear with us. This is a daunting task. Invented by William Gruber and marketed by Harold Graves through Edwin and Fred Mayer's photo-finishing, postcard, and greeting card company, Sawyer's, View-Master was a successor to the stereograph viewer popularized in the 19th century by Oliver Wendell Holmes.
But View-Master was an improvement over the traditional stereograph; it offered seven stereo views on each reel, compared with the stereograph's one view per card, and provided them in color by using Kodak's then- new color transparency film, Kodachrome. From toView-Master reels were sold individually. In Sawyer's bought out the rival Tru-Vue company, which produced stereo views on 35mm film strips.
The takeover eliminated View-Master's chief competitor, but of perhaps greater significance was the acquisition of Tru-Vue's license with Walt Disney Studios. In the mids Sawyer's exploited this asset to produce popular reels and packets devoted not only to Disney's animated characters but to the newly-opened Disneyland theme park and the studio's live-action feature films and television shows.
The relationship between View-Master and Disney has continued uninterrupted to the present day. Byvirtually all new production had been shifted to 3-reel packets and a new numbering system was established, applied to packets rather than to individual reels. The older single reels could be found in packets as late as the middle s, until Sawyer's depleted their inventory.
As backstock was eliminated, reels bearing the newer packet taxonomy were manufactured to replace them. New packet designs reflected the change in ownership and the number of View-Master packet titles continued to expand, but the GAF era is principally remembered for two developments:.The first reels featured travel sites, and were designed to be sold at souvenir and camera shops.
But do those old View-Master reels, packets, viewers and projectors have any real value to collectors? The answer is often yes! This article is meant to be a general guide to View-Master values. Before you throw those old reels away, take a moment to check them out! The more popular the topic of the reel, the more that were likely sold, and therefore, the more common and less valuable the reel.
Foreign reels vs. In general, the most popular foreign destinations England, Paris, Germany, etc. As for packet values, the law of scarcity applies once again. Popular destinations like the Grand Canyon were produced and sold in great quantities, and are thus not worth nearly as much as a more unique destination. The packets with the most value include unique foreign destinations, unique and short-lived US travel destinations and popular TV shows.
Unique reel varieties: In addition to the mass-produced reels, View-Master was involved in the production of various unique reels. These type of reels tend to be the most valuable to collectors. View-Master viewers: The view-master company made many different types of viewers of the years.
As they were sold by the hundreds of thousands, for collector purposes, most viewers have only a very nominal value. Most View-Master projectors project images in 2-D. In general: The more unique or scarce the topic of the reel, the more it is likely to be worth. As with all collectibles, please keep in mind that condition and completeness are also very important factors in determining value.
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