Stereopticon, Un-Deer put us in a holiday mood

TERRY MAURER, WHAT'S IT WORTH?October 21, 2012 

It's holiday season in today's What's It Worth? We answer readers' questions about their cool reindeer and some special, early photos.

Q. I found this charming "reindeer" lounging in a basement in north Richland. He is obviously a 7-Up soda display piece and seems to be in pretty good condition. The only reference to this guy I can find is a poster on ebay for 7-Up "Uncola," with his likeness from the 1960s. He is about 40 inches tall to the tip of his antlers. The base is glittered cardboard; body composition is plastic, cardboard and styrofoam. The antlers are red flocked. I had to glue one antler back on. The satin ornaments used for his nose and hanging from his antlers are disheveled. What can you tell me about him and what is he worth? -- Kathy in Kennewick

A. To quote comedian Robin Williams, "If you remember the Sixties, you weren't there." See if these sayings from that decade ring any bells.

"How Are Your Hoofies?" and "Wrong-oh!"

Can't recall? Maybe you really were there!

The Un-Deer remembers. Those are things this 7-Up Christmas advertising deer used to say in TV commercials. He was a hit character for the soft drink company and Un-Deer only showed up at Christmas; and only for a couple of years.

In the late 1960s, Un-Deer was part of one of the most successful advertising campaigns in modern history. Back then, 7-Up sales lagged far behind cola rivals Coke and Pepsi. 7-Up made a radical switch in their advertising approach, trying to reach a younger, hipper audience.

Thus, "7-Up, The Un-Cola" was rolled out to replace the older, much more conservative "You Like It, It Likes You" advertising slogan. The new campaign took off like a rocket. Un-Deer was just a small part of it. 7-Up sales shot through the roof; up 56 percent in one year.

By the mid-'70s, public attitudes had changed and the campaign was phased out. Un-Deer disappeared.

This was a store display; he would have sat on a pallet of 7-Up cartons. Very little Un-Deer advertising has survived and, even in less-than-perfect condition, a fair price would be $200 to $300. But, that's if a buyer can be found. 7-Up advertising is much less collectible than pieces for other soft drinks and Coca-Cola dominates the market.

Q. This old stereopticon viewer and a bunch of assorted pictures has been in our family for some time. Are these things of any value? -- Grace in Kennewick

A. For almost 100 years -- from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries -- people all over the world enjoyed looking at stereo views. The history of these double photographs and the devices used to view them dates back to the first world's fair -- the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851 in London.

Thousands of stereoscope viewers were sold during and after that fair and the craze started. Everyone had to have the new technology.

Photo reproduction at the time was quite limited; woodblock illustrations in newspapers and magazines were most common. The new viewers and photos opened the world for people. A farm family in Iowa could see the sights of New York, a Florida land developer could visit an Alaska fishing camp.

In his book, Stereo Views: An Illustrated History and Price Guide, author John Waldsmith says, "Looking into a stereoscope at a scene captured in detail and depth creates a special magic. It is as though you were there."

Both professional and amateur photographers produced the photos; identical pictures mounted side-by-side on heavy card stock. A pair of American firm -- Keystone View Company of Pennsylvania and Underwood and Underwood in New York -- dominated the market.

Most views found by today's collectors come from one of those two companies; as are the majority of the cards in this small collection.

There is an active market in the cards, which collectors call "views." They are much more salable and collectible than the hand-held viewers.

View values range up to several hundred dollars each. Common cards, even those in good condition, can be found for as little as a dollar.

The most expensive and hardest to find include photos taken during early government expeditions mapping the West and disaster aftermaths, like the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.

We've chosen to illustrate one charming, but not very expensive card from this group. "Making Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns In A Pumpkin Field" is from the Keystone View Company. Taken about 1900, most likely in Pennsylvania, it is valued at $3. The viewer is about $30, given less-than-perfect condition.

* Terry Maurer, Tri-Cities personal property appraiser, is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. For possible use in a future column, direct questions on your antiques and collectibles to What's It Worth? by e-mail to tchwhatsitworth@gmail.com.

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