Although View-Master is seen as a children's toy now, that is not how it was viewed in the early years. A few books were produced with View-Master reels providing the illustrations.
View-Master advertising for two of their books
Twenty reels accompanied the Cactus and Succulent Plants set. The book, "Succulent Plants' was written by W. Taylor Marshall.
View-Master advertising for the "Alpine Wild Flowers of the Western United States" set
"Alpine Wild Flowers of the Western United States" was written by Howard R. Stagner and illustrated with ten reels.
Thirty-three reels were produced to go with Mushrooms in their Natural habitat, a 600+ page book by Alexander H. Smith.
Perhaps the largest special set is entitled "Chinese Art" and comprises four hardback books in a slip case, each book illustrated with between 40 and 44 reels. The book was written by Sir Harry M. Garner and Margaret Medley. The pictures were produced by Wiliam B. Gruber, the inventor of the View-Master system, and Robert P. Leach who was the senior photographer for View-Master.
In the mid-1940s, about 150 reels were produced for the US Navy. Entitled "Stereoscopic Range Estimator," they were intended to help train gunners.
Companies were not slow to realize the advertising potential of View-Master. The first commercial reels were produced in 1946 for the Steiner Cabinet Company. Seven-Up had a set of 27 reels produced which were offered to store owners to view while their fresh stock was being delivered.
Probably the most highly collectible of all the commercial reels are those produced for motor manufacturers. Buick, Ford and Nash are among the companies to use View-Master to promote their cars.
In the 1950s Hollywood started to make 3D films. View-Master was ideal to promote those films and they created a special advertsing package for cinemas. Along with lobby posters advertising the coming attractions was a View-Master cabinet. Patrons could view the preview reel and see the still pictures in 3D. The movie preview reels were often produced quickly and are not always of great technical merit but they are eagerly collected. Among the films to be promoted in this way are "House of Wax," "Kiss Me Kate," "The Robe," and "It Came From Outer Space."
Two reels sets which are linked to IMAX films. Note the centre hole is gone and there is a relevant illustration replacing the printed information which used to occupy the centre space.
View-Master reels are still being used both to illustrate books and to provide a promotional item for films. These items are sometimes aimed at collectors rather than children.