The View-Master Model A was
produced between 1938 and 1944. It was made from Kodak Tenite plastic,
was very lightweight
and was very prone to warping. It is difficult to find one that doesn't
show warpage to some degree or another. There were several variants, including different
speckled finishes, earlier model A's had larger lenses, later Model A's
had thicker ribs to try to reduce the warping problem.
Model A's cost $1.50
when new. This viewer opened up like a clam-shell and the reel was
placed on a spigot. The viewer was then clipped back together to view. Frame
advancement was performed by a lever that was returned to it's original
position by a piece of stiff bent wire, acting as a spring. These
springs can snap and so should be handled carefully.
Earliest example of a Model A
The earliest Model A (shown below) was very rare
compared to the models shown further down this page and can be easily
identified as it had some significant differences to later models. The
most significant differences was that it has only one raised ring around
its circumference and a single rivet, located near it's edge. The ribs
that criss-crossed the viewer were much lighter than later variants too.
Looking inside the viewer the spring was secured by being melted into
the plastic. On later viewers the end of the spring was secured by a
rivet. The earliest Model A also said "PAT.APPLD.FOR", whereas later
viewers gave the US patent number.
On the left you can see the fixing for the spring and
the right-hand picture shows the very early version patent information
Model A with large lenses
The earliest Model A's were made with
larger viewing lenses than the slightly later varieties. There are
examples without patent information and they are amongst the most
valuable View-Masters, due to their scarcity. Notice an extra
rivet on the right-hand picture of this large lens model (when compared
to the next viewer further down the page). This secures a non-return
spring that didn't appear in later models.
The speckles are actually asbestos!. They are quite
safe because the asbestos is encapsulated in plastic, you have to wonder
what happened to the workers that were involved in the manufacturing
process though. There are two variants of the speckled variety of Model A,
blue and white asbestos flakes (as the one shown below) and the rarer
green and tan flaked version.