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ViewMaster and Reels

Updated on February 14, 2017

Collectible Viewmaster

Walt disney World, 8 pk. 50's
Walt disney World, 8 pk. 50's

Popular ViewMaster Reels

Today we use videos, dvd's , phones, and a hundred other electronic items to show us a visual picture and entertain us to no end.

But before all this came about , while we were yet watching black and white TV, there were neat little Viewmaster viewers with hundreds of reels to choose from.

Almost every national park and tourist attraction had little circular reels , so you could take your memories home with you. Or visit a place in color pictures that you hoped to visit one day.

Photos in the 40's and 50's were done in sepia tones or in black and white, as color photos were just becoming popular. The circular reels in 3 D full color were almost the same as being there.

Wild West and Fairy Tales Alike

Then came the cartoons and TV shows such as Hopalong Cassidy, Lone Ranger and Tonto,and Roy and Dale with Trigger. Barbie, Mother Goose and many others entertained children for hours. Adults had fun with the Viewmaster reels too, exploring such things as science and other countries.

The very first Viewmaster viewer was available in 1939. It started with the Fairy Tale Series for children. The shows and movies were made as single reels and in three reel sets. The Walt Disney World issued three reel sets. Many of the three reel sets of the last 50's and early 60's contained informative little booklets on the subject ,which were edited by Lowell Thomas.

The sales order sheet in one of these packets also lists over 600 titles that were available at that time. You shouldn't have any trouble finding the older titles as many of them are available on auction sites and through private sellers. There was also a talking viewer available then.

During World War II Viewmaster produced reels for the U.S. Government that helped in instructing soldiers who were learning about the planes and ships.

Tourist Attractions

Antique View Master Viewer

View Master Pricing

In 1989 Tyco Toys purchased View Master , and it is currently owned by Fisher- Price. Fisher-Price now produces a much more modern version of the viewer and has many of the current popular TV shows , movies and characters.

As far as prices go , they range from just a couple dollars for a single reel to a much higher amount for three reel sets. The average price for a three reel set from the early 50's is about fifteen dollars.

The viewer shown with this article is one of the original bakelight viewers. And it still works fine as I couldn't help viewing some of reels for the hundredth time over the years, as I was writing this article.

Collecting these older reels is a fun and very profitable hobby , if you plan to sell them sometime in the future.

Modern Viewmaster

Current View Master Reels

Watching a view master reel will never take the place of actually being there but it will sure give you a nice preview of what to expect. Even if you can't visit physically or on the internet using a modern view master proves that there is still some entertainment that is not electronic.

You may also get reels of attractions and places that you know you will never be able to visit. Tourist attractions and national parks are available as view master reels.

Children too enjoy seeing their favorite television characters on their own private viewer.


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    • TimArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 2 years ago from Chicago Region

      Nice hub! In many or most cases, I believe View-Master scenes provided a totally unique record, available from no other source, of each event or place that it covered! I would like to buy a reel on eBay of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, my favorite museum as a kid!

    • profile image

      MrViewmaster 7 years ago

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I used to love my old Viewmaster! Recently, at the National Portrait Gallery in DC, I stumbled on a stereograph (maybe that's what it was called, I could be wrong). They featured viewmaster-type 3-D pictures which were viewed by looking into a large, wooden box - some very old pictures. It was very cool.