Tuesday, March 18, 2008

View-Master Collectibles

In 1938 partners William Gruber and Harold Graves created the View-Master. A little handheld gadget shaped like binoculars and great for viewing up close. The View-Master will transform a reel of negatives into a slide show. The early reels were educational in nature and geared toward adults. Most reels were geography related states and tourism sights and special commissioned sales. During World War II the US Military actually commissioned and purchased thousands of view-masters and millions of reels of assorted aircraft and artillery to educate the soldiers in the identification of both.

When the company sold to GAF in 1966 change came with it. The geography and tourism were still produced but the more popular entertainment view-master reels became prevalent. Movies, Mickey Mouse, Cartoon Characters, Sports, Space, you name it if it was popular with children on television or in the theater it was on a view-master reel.


The company sold again in 1981 and became View-Master International Group. From 1984 - 1989 they were known as View-Master Ideal Group. In 1989 the View-Master Ideal Group was sold to Tyco. In 1997 Mattel, Inc, Tyco and View-Master Ideal Group merged and is currently being produced by Fisher-Price, a Mattel owned company. It’s been around to say the least.


View-master sold their reels in packets with information sheets on what you were viewing on the reels. In 1970 GAF discontinued the packets and went to blister packs. That is the reason so many of the later reels are found loose. Each reel is labeled with a subject, a number and a year it was published. If you have a loose one dated before 1970 it is missing its packet and information sheet.


I have recently purchased a handful of these View-Master reels, which I have in today’s picture. Missouri & Texas are dated 1954. The Lone Ranger is dated 1956. The loose ones are 3 reels to a set but no envelopes 1970- Royal Gorge - Colorado. 1985- Transformers, 1985- Thundercats, 1985 - Princess of Power and Super Wrestlers. I have them running on eBay this week and the cartoon’s all have bids on them so I would say they are more popular.


I noticed when bids are placed on eBay most of these reels eventually sell in the $4-$5 range, however if you have something totally unusual it always brings top dollar. The 1970’s Yacht Club Race set which sold for $73 on eBay or any of those aircraft identification reels, four sold for $67.88 on eBay just last week.


Nowadays, they make talking View-masters, we’ve come a long way baby but the reels they are producing are the moneymaking ones of the past - mostly cartoons, popular kids television shows and movies.

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