If you were a child in the 50s, 60s or 70s you’re probably familiar with the View-Master – a stereoscope made from Bakelite or plastic that holds a thin cardboard disc containing images. To view the images you held the View-Master up to your eyes (like binoculars) and clicked a lever to move the disc around. The View-Master system was introduced in 19391 by Sawyers Inc. in Portland, Oregon, USA who later went on to be a major manufacturer (second to Kodak) of slide projectors.
Being a child of the 60s, I grew up with a View-Master. A brown one. Probably made from plastic. I don’t recall what was on the discs I owned and I don’t remember when I became too old for it or where it ended up as second-hand stores weren’t really a thing back then. I stumble across the odd one here and there during my vintage store escapades but have never felt the need to add one to my collection.
During one of my road trips a few years back I ducked into a small antique store in a country town and spied an interesting brown shape on top of a cabinet. The shop owner graciously got it down so I could have a closer look. I was enthralled, I’d never seen one like it. There was a good reason for this; the View-Master Junior Projector was never sold in Australia. The shop owner was married to a French woman and they travelled to Europe each year and picked up bits’n’pieces to sell in their shop. This was one of those pieces. I was persuaded to part with $100 simply due to the rarity of them in this country and I loved the unusual shape.
Although I’ve purchased a reel for display purposes (Daffy Duck), I’ve not yet tested my View-Master Junior Projector because it has a European outlet plug. I’m sure one day I’ll get around to buying an adapter.