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Ron & Donna Miller - Publishers

Portland Piano Tuner Invents
View-Master Picture System

1970s View-Master
A box View-Master gift pack from the early 1970s contained a stereo viewer and seven reels.

The View-Master familiar to children for the last few decades originated in 1939. The idea was conceived by William Gruber, a Portland, Oregon, piano tuner.

He had experimented with some new Kodak color film and two Kodak bantam specials, with the idea of creating a technique for viewing seven pairs of pictures on a disk. The pairs would create a 3-dimensional effect and the sequence of pictures would tell a story or event.

Gruber met Harold Graves, president of Sawyer’s, a Portland postcard and photo developing company. They formed a partnership and worked out the details together, using the still-familiar View-Master format and i6 mm transparencies.

The first patents were filed in 1939. The original viewer, the A model, had a flip-front opening and straight barrels for viewing. The first View-Masters sold consisted of the stereoscope and 15 scenic reels packaged in a wood-like paper-covered gift box. They were sold in Portland in 1939.

By 1941, there were 1,000 dealers handling the product throughout the United States.

In addition to entertainment, View-Master reels were used by some companies as an advertising technique, and during World War II, special training reels were made for the U.S. Navy and the Army Air Corps.

A Model B viewer was brought out in 1943. It had a more streamlined design, and was made of a better plastic. It still had the flip-front opening.
After World War II, the Model C viewer was made, from 1946 to 1956. This is the most common square design, although it has been made in several color and design variations.

Subjects were continually added. Single reels were repackaged as 3-reel packets as an aid in marketing.

In 1966, GAF (General Aniline and Film Company) bought Sawyers. New 2-D projectors and a 3-D Talking View-Master were introduced at this time. Several additional ownership changes have occurred since then.

The earliest View-Master reels were dark blue with gold foil centers; they are often warped. The next were a dark blue and buff. In the 1940s, the reel was off-white or buff colored and in 1946, a white reel was used. These color changes can help collectors identify the dates on a reel.

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Enesco Provides Many Small Collectibles
At Reasonable Prices

By Debbie and Randy Coe

Enesco Lucy and Me bear.
A Lucy and Me bear.

One of our favorite companies that produces many different collectible items is Enesco. Today it is one of the largest operating in the United States.

The company dates back to 1888 when it was called the N Shure Company. In the 1950s, Eugene Freedman came to work as a salesman and worked his way up to eventually become President and CEO. At this time a name change occurred and the company became Enesco Imports. It produced a line of items that included giftware, kitchenware and other novelty items. During this time, all the items were made in Japan. Some of the first items were Kitchen Pixies, Mother in the Kitchen and Ladies Heads.

A Precious Moment s figurine.
A Precious Moments figurine.

During the 1960s, Japan sources became harder to come by and the company began to look elsewhere for suppliers. The result was, in addition to Japan, items were made in other countries including China, Hong Kong, Italy, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Sri Lanka and Taiwan. In the 1980s, while other import companies could not adapt, Enesco grew because of its ability to add and change its lines.

A Calico Kitty takes a bath.
A Calico Kitty takes a bath.

A major line to become part of Enesco was Precious Moments. These faith-based figurines were created by Sam Butcher. This alliance began in 1978 and has thrived ever since. The porcelain figurines and other related accessories have produced a major number of sales for the company. A different symbol is put on the bottom each year so you can identify what particular year it was made. A very cute special edition was made for children. A birthday train was offered with a clown conductor and started with a baby. Each year added had a different type of circus animal.

A Cherished Teddy, ready to ride!
A Cherished Teddy, ready to ride!

The beginnings of Enesco�s future success came from featuring national artists with specialty lines. Lucy Rigg created two lines of cute bears called Lucy and Me and Chapeau Noelle. The Lucy & Me are brown ceramic bears about 3� tall and are dressed for various jobs and doing different activities. Chapeau Noelle came from the French word for hat and Noelle, Lucy�s daughter. These resin bears are wearing ornate hats with a feather on them.

A Growing Up girl holding #16.
A Growing Up girl holding #16.

Patricia Hillman is an artist and author of children’s books. The Cherished Teddies bear line came from her illustrations. They were sculpted in a cast resin. Each was given a name; a statement about its setting; registration number and certificate of adoption. These have proved to be quite popular.

Hillman also designed a cat collection called Calico Kitties. These cats were dressed up in various outfits and had a patchwork patch on them.

Another artist, Kim Anderson, designed charming little porcelain children and the series was called Pretty as a Picture.

Other popular lines have been Growing Up, which featured birthday girls with their particular birthday year number on their dress or in their hand. These make great gifts for a grandma or other relative to give their favorite girl. As a follow up to this was the Afro American girls to honor black girls on their birthdays.

Who could resist Garfield, the mischievous cartoon cat? Garfield was featured doing his favorite activities. A licensing agreement was worked out with Disney so Enesco could have some cute figures such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse and other favorite characters from their movies. A variety of cute cats and dogs have also been offered along with figurines, novelty kitchen items, planters and vases.

Collectors like these items because of their quality and because it is easy to find them. An added factor is that most of the items range from $10 to $20, and many of them are under $10. This is a definite advantage when someone is looking to start a collection. The figures appeal to children, and they can be encouraged to start their own collections with something small and affordable.

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Clock Name Derived From Its Appearance

Behive or Flatiron Clock

Beehive is the name given to a style of shelf clock popular between 1850 and 1870 in New England. The wooden case rounded to a point at the top, similar to the structure of an old fashioned beehive.

This same clock is also sometimes called a flatiron clock because its appearance is also similar to an old flatiron standing on edge.

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