The first View-Master viewers hinged open so that the reel could be loaded. The reel has a hole in the centre which was placed on a central spindle in the viewer. The viewer was then closed.
View-Master Model A viewer. This is a later version with small viewing lenses.
View-Master Model A viewer hinged open for loading
The first version, the Model A, was made from about 1938 to 1944. This viewer is usually black but there are two speckled versions. The specks are asbestos; the viewer is safe to use because they are embedded in the Tenite plastic. There are blue and white speckles and, even more rare, green and tan speckles.
The plastic is prone to warping, even the heavier ribs of later models did not eliminate the warping problem.
View-Master Model B viewer
The Model B was very similar to the Model A, but made from Bakelite. It was made until about 1946, when the first top-loading viewer was introduced. Although usually found in black, there are also brown, blue aand black/blue versions.
This is an Arpa copy of the View-Master Model C viewer
The Model C was made for almost ten years and is very common. It is usually black or brown and, being top-loading, is significantly easier to load than the earlier models.
View-Master Model E viewer and light attachment
It was replaced in about 1955 by the Model E, which has a few cosmetic changes - the top has a shallow "V" shape instead of the semi-circle which allows access to the reel on the Model C, the lever has a plastic knob on the Model E where it is metal on the Model C and the eyepieces are styled differently. The Model E was made up until about 1961.
View-Master Model D viewer. The focusing wheel can just be seen on the right.
Also introduced in about 1955 is the Model D, which is an illuminated viewer with focusing eyepieces. It is not as common as the simpler viewers, for all that it was made up until about 1972, because it was more expensive and required batteries.
View-Master Model F viewer
The Model F was also an illuminated viewer. This was the last viewer to be introduced that was made of bakelite. It was made from 1958 to 1966.
View-Master Model G viewer in "Pick up and look" package
The Model G was made for over 20 years, from 1962 to 1983. It is a simple plastic viewer and was made in a variety of colours.
The European version of the View-Master Model H illuminated viewer
The Model H illuminated viewer replaced the Model F and was made up to about 1981 in several colours. There are two versions, the European model and the American version. The American version is much more rounded than the European version.
The View-Master Mickey Mouse viewer is based around the Model J viewer
The Model J viewer is clearly seen behind the Mickey Mouse front
The Model J is another simple plastic viewer, made in Belgium from about 1975 to 1994. It replaced the Model G and has been available in several colours including red (the most common colour), purple (a special for the wedding of The Prince of Wales and Diana Spencer set), blue, beige, yellow and green. It was also the viewer used for the Mickey Mouse viewer.
View-Master Model L viewer
The US equivalent to the Model J is the Model L. This viewer can also be found as a promotional item carrying a company logo and often with a disc advertising the company's products or services. This viewer may carry any one of four different View-Master company names - GAF, VMI (View-Master International Group), Ideal and Tyco. Various special character viewers were made using this as the base including Big Bird and Batman.
View-Master advertising picture showing the Model 12 illuminated viewer
The Model 12 had a very short production run (1976-1978). It was made in Belgium by GAF and is an illuminated viewer which gives a clear, bright image. It was available in grey, red and blue and is not easy to find.
The Model M was made by VMI from 1986 to 1990. It has a push-button to advance the reel which proved, in practice, to be a poor idea which was difficult for children to operate. It was made in red and blue.
The Model N is an orange viewer which was made in China for Tyco from 1992 until 1997. It is both an illuminated viewer and an ambient light viewer.
Two lighting attachments were made for the Model C and Model E viewers. These clip onto the back of the viewer.
View-Master light attachment for Model C viewer
One was for the Model C viewer; it was available from 1950 to 1955.
The other was for the Model E (pictured above with Model E viewer). In both cases, the attachment - like the lighted viewers available at the same time - could be used with a transformer or with batteries.