Bakelite Viewmasters


Although today considered a toy, View-Master began it's commercial life in 1939 as a home-entertainment medium intended for adults.

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 1939 to 1950, View-Master reels were sold individually. In the early 1950s, Sawyer's had a sufficient catalog of titles to begin grouping existing single reels into packets according to common subjects (for example, reels 251, 252, & 253 were sold as a Carlsbad Caverns packet).
--Viewmaster History

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