S3 Packet Style

circa 1955-1957


S3D front S3D back
front back

The S3 style marked the beginning of Sawyer's commitment to the 3-reel packet format as the backbone of their View-Master marketing and production program.

The central element of the S3 design was a large square window with rounded corners, representing an image as seen through a View-Master viewer. Two- or three-color line drawings, like those in previous packet styles, filled this "window" in the earliest S3 packets, which collectors designate "S3D." The use of drawn illustration in the S3 style was short-lived; full-color photographic images soon replaced line art on packet covers to produce what is known today as the standard S3 variant.


S3 front S3 back
front back


S3 layout was uniform from packet to packet and consisted of the left-aligned picture window surrounded:

S3 packet selection (45k)

The back of the packet envelope was laid out for mailing, with "Hand Stamp" and "Do Not Bend" postal cautions and areas reserved for address, return address, and postage stamp. The S3 flap was considerably shorter than those on earlier envelopes, occupying approximately 25% of the packet's vertical dimension.

With S3 production Sawyer's abandoned earlier alphabetic packet designations; numbering was applied instead to the reels themselves. Typically, reels in a packet were assigned a shared number with -A, -B, or -C suffixes appended to differentiate them from one another. In the state tour titles, reel designations consisted of the state's alphabetic abbreviation with the suffixes -1, -2, or -3. New numbers notwithstanding, single reels with their original numbers were quite commonly issued in S3 packets. Reel numbers were printed at the top of the envelope flap in earlier S3 issues and below the address block in later issues.

There are S3 packets with a different back design. The most common was the "Hand Stamp" issue. However, we are including some of the variations also. These are S3oh and S3sb - see below

At the same time as the S3 packets were in production in Portland, the Belgian counterpart S3 called BS3 were in production. For complete information on these Belgian made S3 click here.

A new alphanumeric packet/reel numbering system was instituted beginning with the subsequent S4 style. Toward the end of S3 packet production Sawyer's manually rubber-stamped the new packet numbers on the back of packet envelopes (as seen in both specimens above); conversely, reels with the newer alphanumeric designations are known to have been issued in S3 envelopes.


S3oh front S3oh back
front back



S3sb front S3sb back
front back





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© 2009
The View-Master Ultimate Reel List created by Keith Baird.
Maintained by 3DStereo.com Inc.
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