Sightseer From England

Sightseer: True-View's Competitor

By Tom Martin

There have been a number of stereo viewing systems made over the years. Some were very popular and are quite well known and others were made in small quantities and are relatively unknown by a majority of modern stereo collectors. This was the case for me regarding the English Sightseer stereo films. I had heard of the Australian Sight-Seer View-Master spin-off (the unusual shaped viewer pictured on the reel envelope has yet to be found), but I had never heard of the English Sightseer stereo films and viewers until about 4 years ago.

One day I received an email from a British antiques dealer asking if I would be interested in purchasing some Tru-Vue and Sightseer films that he had recently acquired. The Tru-Vue films were all common ones, but since I had never heard of Sightseer stereo films I asked for more info. This was the first time the dealer had seen the films and he really did not know anything about them, so going on his description only I agreed to purchase the films. They arrived a few weeks later in an old OXO beef bouillon cube tin (where I still store them today), and much to my delight they were exactly what I had hoped they would be, unique 3D films of the British Isles in the early 1950’s.

The films are printed on black and white 35mm transparency film, similar to the English True-View films, but the images are 4 perforations wide (the same format as Novelview) instead of True-View's 5 perf images. The films all have 16 stereo images, a title frame, and rewind instructions at the end. There are no copyright dates on the films, but they all appear to be early 1950’s.

I was eventually able to track down a Sightseer viewer, which has good optics, and in my opinion is much better quality than the Novelview viewers. The viewers came in several different color combinations; which were apparently randomly mixed pieces. The boxes for the films and viewers are a tan with gray bands and red lettering. As you can see by the photos below the white sometimes darkened to a dark tan or orange color. There are two types of viewer boxes; a single piece with a top flap, and a two piece box. The films came in one piece boxes and cylindrical tins.

The packaging say that the viewer and films were made by A.P.I. Ltd. and that they are patent pending. I would rate the Sightseer films to be even less common than True-View films which are not very common. I tend to be a sucker for the hard to find stereo brands, but I am guessing that there are at best only a handful of Sightseer collectors. Let me know if you are one.

The Film Catalog

I do not have a complete Sightseer film list or catalog, so here are the titles of the films that I have or have seen up for auction. If anyone has other titles in their collection or if you have a film list or catalog that can be scanned, please let me know.

1 Westminster Series 1
2 Westminster Series 2
3 Sights of London Series 1
4 Sights of London Series 2
11 Oxford Series 1
12 Oxford Series 2
13 Cambridge Series 1
14 Cambridge Series 2
15 Cambridge Series 3
16 Cambridge Series 4
17 Edinburgh Series 1
18 Edinburgh Series 2
19 Edinburgh Series 3
21 Canterbury Series 1
22 Canterbury Series 2
23 Canterbury Series 3
31 London Round the Law Courts
32 St. Paul’s
33 Tower of London
34 Houses of Parliament
36 Windsor Castle
37 St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
41 Locomotives & Stations Series 1
42 Locomotives & Stations Series 2
43 Locomotives & Stations Series 3
44 Locomotives & Stations Series 4
51 Stratford-On-Avon
52 Shakespeare's Birthplace
53 New Place
54 Anne Hathaway's Cottage
55 Mary Arden's House
61 Bournemouth Series1
62 Bournemouth Series 2
64 Brighton Series 1
65 Brighton Series 2
66 Torquay Series 1
67 Torquay Series 2
68 Torquay Series 3
69 Torquay Series 4
70 Eastbourne
71 Model Railway Engines
72 Shanklin Isle of Wight
91 Festival 1951 South Bank Series 1
92 Festival 1951 South Bank Series 2
93 Festival 1951 Pleasure Gardens
94 Festival 1951 Children’s Zoo
94 Amsterdam
101 The Zoo Series 1
102 The Zoo Series 2
103 The Zoo Series 3
105 Mills Circus
109 Racing at Silverstone 1
110 Racing at Silverstone 2
121 Madame Tussaud’s 1
122 Madame Tussaud’s 2
124 Channel Cruise
125 Dog Show
131 Exeter Cathedral
132 Ely Cathedral
141 Aircraft and Airport Series 1
142 Aircraft and Airport Series 2
201 Blenheim Palace Series 1
202 Blenheim Palace Series 2
203 Blenheim Palace Series 3
No # Robinson Crusoe

I have only seen one Sightseer catalog of film titles, a single sheet that you can see Here. If anyone has any other catalogs or advertisement, please let me know so that I can get a scan.

Of the films that I do have, my favorites are 142 - Aircraft and Airport Series 2 and 124 - Channel Cruise, as both have lots of stereo images with people in them.

Cold lunch is served in the plane. Interior of an S.A.S. Skymaster

Time to depart: the gangway is taken in

As always, this is a work in progress. If you have any additional titles or advertising, or notice any major omissions in this article, please let me know.

Places to go

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This page last updated 24 June, 2016
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