ICONIC COLLECTIBLES: TV View-Master Reels, 1950’s, 1960’s, & 1970’s

Written By: Greg Howell - Jan• 23•18

If you purchased the collection (represented in the video), at the time of their original release, the entire group would have set up back about $100. If you still owned these today in mint condition, the entire set would sell for about $2000, not counting the View-Masters or the store displays! The most valuable individual sets are the “Here’s Lucy, ” “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” and the “Dark Shadows” reels. Each are priced at about $50 each!

Created in 1939, the View-Master viewer and reels contained 14 images, creating 7 stereophonic (3-D) images created when viewing 2 identical images simultaneously through the viewer. The viewers were made of heavy bakelite until 1961. After that date, lighter weight plastic was used.

Until the early 1950’s, the reels consisted of nature scenes and tourist destinations; however, Mattel’s viewers reached their height of popularity once popular television shows were licensed. Beginning with Disney in 1954, and then other children’s shows and cartoons, the reels began to showcase colorful television shows loved by children.

Most all the popular shows with children were showcased, with the occasional oddity thrown in the collection, such as 1973’s “The Walton’s,” 1968’s “Julia,”NBC’s “Joe Forrester,” “Hello, Larry” and 1974’s “Apple’s Way.” Several shows, such as “Bewitched,” “The Lucy Show” and “I Dream of Jeannie” were surprisingly never represented on View-Master reels.

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