View-Master Model B - The first bakelite ViewMaster




The View-Master Model B was produced between 1944 and 1947. It was made from bakelite, which overcame the warping problems associated with the Model A and, similar to the Model A,  opened up like a clamshell. There are four colour variants available, black, brown, blue and rarest of all, a dual coloured black and blue version (the front was black and the back was blue), but all have black eyecups. The black and blue variant is probably the most valuable of all View-Master viewers ever produced.

The USA version had round eyecups. There was a much rarer UK manufactured version, that can be easily identified by it's flared eye-pieces and was made in Salford, near Manchester by Salford Electrical Instruments Ltd. It was only ever available in black. The UK viewers British patent number was  538492.

The glue that originally held the eyecups in on these viewers has invariably perished with time. Common fixes are to use a modern epoxy glue (which will reduce the value of the viewer!) or to wrap elastic bands around the lens barrels and twist them back in. Using elastic bands is the preferred method as the lenses can still be removed if they become contaminated with dust or dirt.

The USA Version of the View-Master Model B   

Sawyers View-Master Model B (common black version)

The UK Version of the View-Master Model B   

Sawyers View-Master Model B (UK version)

An example of a rare Mahogany Brown Model B.   

Note that the eye pieces are black. This is the only colour they were ever made in. Like all Model Bs, this viewer in manufactured from bakelite. It was in production for just one year in 1947. Originally, these Model B viewers retailed at $1.50

Sawyers View-Master Model B (mahogany brown version)

A Blue/Black Model B    

This unusual two-tone model is considered by many collectors to be the rarest View-Master of all, very few are know to exist. The Blue/Black version of the Model B was manufactured at the very end of the Model B's production run in late 1947, when the plant assembled whatever parts were left over to use up stock before the launch of the Model C. All these viewers had black eyepieces.

Sawyers View-Master Model B (rare blue/black version)

A Marine Blue Model B from 1947   

Whilst not the rarest of Model B's, it is very hard to find. The all blue bakelite viewer is one of the most sought after of all Sawyers viewers and always commands high prices. These viewers were supplied in a brown box with gold top. The box top sports a logo which reads, "Sawyers View-Master - Third Dimension Pictures in Full Color Kodachrome - Sawyers Portland Oregon".

In the box in which this viewer was supplied was a note that read, "According to W.P.B. order L239 prohibiting the making of combination boxes, We are discontinuing our Sawyer Library box for View-Master and Reels. Sawyer's, Portland Oregon" . (click here to see note L239)

Tim Moore has supplied some information that explains the note:-
"The WPB was the US War Production Board who issued orders controlling all strategic production during WW2. Most orders were made in 1942 as the USA geared up for war production. The number L239 would indicate a 'limitation order' to control a strategic material. This would, most likely, have been wood pulp that was used in the production of the 'library box'."

Sawyers View-Master Model B (sought after marine blue version)

Sawyers View-Master Model B (marine blue version opened)

Close-up of USA Model B (left)  and UK Model B (right) Eyepieces

Sawyers View-Master Model B (USA eyecup)  Sawyers View-Master Model B (UK eyecup)

The USA Version Model B Patent markings (left)
and the UK Version Model B Patent markings (right


The original receipt for the Model B View-Master pictured at the top of this page

Model Bs being inspected and packed in the Sawyer's Portland, Oregon factory

Sawyers factory making View-Master Model Bs

3D Cross-eyed image of a Model B

UK Model B Box Label

Sawyers View-Master UK Model B box top

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