View-Master Reels - ViewMaster developed a huge range of reels
 

 

VIEW-MASTER
REELS

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View-Master Reels consist of a disk 9cm in diameter. Each disk contains 14 pictures, which comprise of 7 stereo pairs. Sawyers and Gaf reels used Kodachrome film and the colours last very well, even after 60 years. 99% of all reels were made either in the USA or Belgium. Very small numbers were also made in India, Australia, Austria and France, but they are all fairly rare.

A great many variations exist of colouration and label lettering. There are in excess of 60 different label styles that can be found on View-Master reels. As well as that, the colour of the reels has changed though their history. early reels were blue with gold labels, then there were buff reels,  yellows, blues but the bulk of reels are white. Gold centre reels fetch a high price when compared to their tan, white and blue ring equivalents.

  • Whilst almost all reels were made commercially, it was possible for an individual to make their own. This required the use of a View-Master 3D camera, a film cutter and a special type of reel, know as a Personal Reel, which allowed the user to accurately align their stereo images.

    click here to see a Personal Reel     Images taken from Personal Glamour Reels

  • Many reels were supplied with a small booklet or informational slip. These either told a story relating to the reel or gave information pertinent to the pictures on the reel, such as a potted history or specific scene information

    click here to see examples of two booklets

  • Reels were commonly supplied singularly, but were also available in thematic packets or sets. Normally the packets contained three reels and a booklet. There was a whole series of fairy-tale packets and these consisted of 3 and 6 reel sets. These are prefixed with 'FT' and go from FT-1 to FT`-51. Generally the reel packets were of a geographic location, botanical subject or event.

click here to see some Reel Packets  Example 1     Example 2     Example 3     Example 4

  • Another sought after type of View-Master reel is the 'DR' range. These were Demonstration Reels that were given away with viewers or as promotions by dealers. Just over 80 different reels were issued and some are very rare.

  • Sawyers and Gaf were not the only companies to make reels for the View-Master. An Italian company produced reels under the name of Stereorama that were identical to View-Master Reels. In Czechoslovakia, Meopta produced reels that were identical as well, however, they were of a much lower quality.

click here to see a Stereo-Rama Reel            click here to see a Meopta Reel

click here to see a Receipt dated 1946 for Reels

Most View-Master reels are fairly inexpensive, making collecting them a great hobby, however, there is one reel which is the 'Holy Grail' of hard-core View-Master collectors and that is reel 1305, President Kennedy's Visit Ireland June 1963. The reel was on sale for a very short time because it was withdrawn after Kennedy was shot on the 22nd November 1963. For this reason there are very few in circulation. During 2005 a few surfaced and these sold for £180, £186, £294 and £310 respectively, three of them via eBay.

click here to see Reel 1305


View-Master Frame Scans

Click the links below to see some scans of View-Master Reels. The scans are named starting with the reel number and followed by the frame number on that reel.

Reel Condition Guide

A pair of View-Master Cufflinks

Thought to be given as a reward to salesman for achieving their sales targets.

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