Wednesday Ephemera #4: View-Master Junior Projector (1950) & Stereo Picture Disks (1960)

Above image: View-Master Stereo Picture Set entitled “Old Mexico”. Found in Eagle Rock, California, late 2008.

Hello my friends, welcome to the fourth installment of Wednesday Ephemera!

What is “Wednesday Ephemera” you ask? Well, it is a weekly Show and Tell of sorts, a place where I can share pieces from my collection of paper ephemera. Click here to read my extended introduction.

Tonight I share with you my View-Master Junior Projector (1950) and a couple of my favorite 3-D stereo pictures (1960) from my View-Master Stereo Pictures disk (aka reel) collection. I started re-collecting stereo picture disks the last half of 2008 and purchased the 2-D View-Master projector from a vintage shop in Long Beach in September of 2009.

Left: View-Master Junior Projector (1950)   /   Right: Various View-Master Stereo Pictures disks

View-Master is a device to view seven 3-D images (stereo images) mounted in a paper disk. A View-Master disk holds 14 film slides in pairs. Although View-Masters are now marketed to children, the disks were originally heavily oriented toward adults, and included much educational and tourism content. — Wikipedia

I think many kids of my generation (I was born in 1983) have fond memories of the handheld View-Master. I spent countless hours gazing into my red Fisher-Price viewer, pointing it at any available light source to find 3-D images taken from various Claymation or Disney animated movies. Dig a little deeper though and you’ll find that the View-Master wasn’t originally intended for children. It was first introduced at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and targeted adults with scenic imagery. Wikipedia also says, “In the 1940s, the United States military recognized the potential for using View-Master products for personnel training, purchasing 100,000 viewers and nearly six million disks from 1942 to the end of World War II, in 1945.” It was only until the mid-1960s did View-Master picture disks begin to shift from those scenic images towards more child-friendly subjects.

So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite images that I projected on my bedroom wall and photographed for you all. Click on any image for a closer look.

Left: Picture disk #176: Petrified Forest, National Monument, Arizona, U.S.A.
Right, top: Projected image #1, “Old Faithful, The Largest Log”  /  Right, bottom: Projected image #7, “Agate Bridge”

Left: The View-Master Junior Projector is small in size & light-weight. I snapped this shot for scale.
Right: Although the handwritten label states this projector is from 1930s-40s, I believe it’s actually from the 1950s. This projector is built to last; it’s made of both metal and Bakelite plastic.

Left: One of my all-time favorites, this set contains 3 reels & an educational booklet. The picture tour is entitled “Old Mexico”.
Right, top: Projected image #2, “Maguey plant, source of juice for fermented and fresh drinks
Right, bottom: Projected image #1, “Oaxacan women in traditional huipiles–blouses”

Left, top: Projected image #4, “Tobacco plant is a ‘cousin’ of the tomato and the potato”
Left, top: Projected image #2, “The date palm, member of useful family of palm trees”
Middle: This picture set is entitled “The Plant Kingdom, Botany”

Right, top: Projected image #6, “Redwoods, tallest of all plants, belong to the sequoia family.”
Right, bottom: Projected image #3, “Mushrooms are familiar members of plant group known as fungi.”

I had a lot of fun sifting through my collection of reels and projecting all these images on my bedroom wall for this blog post. For someone who collects so many things, it’s easy to forget what you have and all the potential for small joys. It’s all about the simple things really. That’s what I think anyways.

That is all for now, but come back next week for the next installment of Wednesday Ephemera, good bye!

2 responses to Wednesday Ephemera #4: View-Master Junior Projector (1950) & Stereo Picture Disks (1960)

  1. tom manning

    Yep – that was one of my entertainments as a kid. I recall Tarzan episodes and some cornering of the bad guys by Hoppalong Cassidy, good-guy dude cowboy.

    • ginaclyne – Author

      Aren’t they just wonderful? I have to go about collecting more of the narrative reels. I was so fascinated with the scenic reels, that I don’t have many of those. Collect, collect, collect!

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