The Jigsaw Puzzle: Piecing Together a History

By | 2014-10-01T20:14:48+00:00 December 23rd, 2013|Jigsaw Puzzles, Puzzle Books|0 Comments

Just when I least expected it, a new book on Jigsaw Puzzles appears. I already had a good book on the subject, “The One, the Only, The Original Jigsaw Puzzle Book” by Francene and Louis Sabin, 1977.It was and still is a very good book. While obviously, some of the same things are covered, there is still enough that i.e. different to make it worthwhile as a companion to this new jigsaw book. (See my review).In just about every aspect, this book gives a lot more. There are 16 color pages showing about 50 collectible jigsaws; no way could black and white do them justice. History of jigsaws is covered from their inception in the mid-1700’s and particularly during the puzzle crazes of the 1920’s.Also covered is how innovations took place over the years .There are details on construction and manufacture as well as complete instructions on various ways to make your own puzzles. We are also told of some of the famous people who indulge in puzzles; Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Bing Crosby, Jean Harlow, George W. Bush, Stephen King, several US Presidents and even J.P.Morgan. Hard to believe all these people have something in common. We are also told of speed competitions to assemble puzzles as well as record size and complexity of puzzles.

I also found out about a puzzle I’ve had for some time and never got around to working on. Namely, one put out by Christopher Mockton, in 1998 called Eternity. He was the son of a Viscount and advisor to Prime Minister Thatcher. The puzzle consisted of 209 geometrically shaped pieces which had to be placed in a frame. Somewhat like a 209 piece Tangram. The buyer had 4 years to complete it for a Million Pound prize. To great astonishment, 2 Cambridge students spent 6 months on a computer program and successfully solved it. Mockton had to sell his ancestral home in Scotland to pay off the prize. It is a great collector’s item, and I found in a ‘Thrift Store ‘for a dollar, but somehow I doubt I’ll ever solve it.
It kind of reminds me of Lloyd’s “Cyclopedia of Puzzles “This huge volume was hastily assembled by his son and privately published in 1914 and offered a large prize to the first person who submitted correct solutions to all the puzzles. Well, there were all kinds of errors, multiple solutions, impossible solutions and what not, so that nobody won the prize. Over Publishing and Martin Gardner put out a selection of these puzzles in 1959.

Sorry for the digression. The Jigsaw book gives us some names for various shaped pieces, such as, ,turtles, loops, sockets, knobs, holes, tabs, slots, keys, locks and suggests you find some of your own names. I like tongues, mouths, lefties, righties, uppers, downers, straights, and curves, to name a few more.
Then to top it off, Williams gives hundreds of references, all the way from web sites, books, manufacturers, sellers, organizations and many, many references to articles in all sorts of publications.
It’s hard to imagine this being anything but the definitive book on Jigsaw Puzzles for a long time. Then again; maybe another new dog will appear on the block; but it’ll have to be good to top this one.

This book can be bought on Amazon.


About the Author:

Retired engineer who loves birds, puzzles and books. Has personal library of 7000 tomes.

Leave A Comment