Best Jigsaw Puzzles

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ESCAPE FROM FRAMES

Occasionally we receive comments from "puzzlers" regarding which brands or types of puzzles are "the best". We ourselves enjoy a wide variety of puzzles, and it is easy for us to see that there are many different preferences in jigsaw puzzles. We are, on this page, collecting comments from the community about which types of puzzles are the most or least favorite, and favorite brands or themes. These are not the only such comments, and they may be edited or excerpted.
First, we give our own opinion:
We intentionally look for puzzles which have more varied piece shapes and interesting pictures. We started with old Tuco puzzles from the 1930's and 1940's that I found on-line a few years ago. Then, we started trying other brands that we heard about and that are popular. We found that we enjoyed SPRINGBOKTM, for instance -- the earlier, the better. We also like EATONTM, CEACOTM, and old WHITMANTM "Gold Seal" puzzles. We also like many of the puzzles of the 1930's and many wooden puzzles. We enjoy unusual puzzles, sometimes even if they are incomplete. We don't always appreciate puzzles which have more than 700-800 pieces, but sometimes we do. Some people not only enjoy puzzles which are very large, but which have various other characteristics which make them even more challenging, such as extra pieces, double-sided, no straight edges, cutting along color lines, etc.
A good example of the variety we like is a puzzle in our collection which depicts the figure of Jesus in robes. Below him kneels a World War 2 soldier. In the clouds in the background can be seen images of old military heroes of the United States. This is a very early BIG BENTM puzzle. Almost every piece has at least one straight edge! This was one of the most difficult puzzles we've encountered, and yet we really loved working with it, even though it turned out to be missing two or three pieces.
Now, for some comments from others:

...I am just frustrated with the state of things regarding current jigsaw puzzles. The... pieces are tiny and uniform, practically INTERCHANGEABLE.... Puzzles should be pleasureable to assemble....I have a puzzle from 1990, a photo of Portuguese fishing boats, colorful (no field of flowers---ugh!) the pieces are large, uniquely shaped and are a joy to work with....

One of my favorite puzzles of all time is a 1000 piece Milton Bradley "Big Ben" cardboard puzzle designed in a style where virtually every piece has at least one straight edge. It is a difficult puzzle to put together, particularly in the sky where the color is very similar from piece to piece.... [I date] the puzzle no later than 1959....
[Later puzzles have a different] cutting style, eliminating all interior straight edges, ruining the series, in my opinion.

...the artist Paul Detlefsen. His pastoral settings for his paintings has long been a favorite of mine....

...a beautiful painting by one of my favorite artists, James C. Christensen....

I love the Seascapes puzzles from Milton Bradley.

...Thomas Kinkade's 1,000 piece puzzle entitled Victorian Christmas II. It is my very favorite of his...

Grandmoma liked the ones with the dark mountains, and the dark water and the dark fuzzy bushes. I'd never even seen a mountain or a dark lake. I only liked bushes with lots of flowers. Puzzles were certainly losers. I didn't touch another puzzle for 25 years. Revelation came to me one rainy afternoon in New England with friends and a round Springbok puzzle of tropical birds-no dark bushes, no dark trees, and no dark birds. Such fun pieces-no 2 alike. Such a tactile experience feeling the pieces. When you found the spot that piece fit-you knew it. We laughed, told jokes. We finished in time for supper. Since I've been buying puzzles-I NEVER get dark mountains or dark fuzzy anything. I want my puzzles big and bright with pictures of things I like. My puzzles are FUN. My puzzles have great pieces and shapes. Would you believe I must have 200+ puzzles and not a dark mountain to the lot?

I was wondering if there is a way to tell how the puzzle pieces are cut? We don't like it when all of the puzzles' pieces are almost identical in shape. I know it's more of a challenge that way but we just work on jigsaw puzzles occasionally for relaxation.

Nancy Ballhagen wrote to answer this question:
Some of the companies that don't have all the same shaped pieces, are:
Great American Puzzle Factory,
Sunsout,
FX Schmid (especially the 500 piece ones),
Ceaco,
Buffalo Games,
MasterPieces,
White Mountian and
Springbok (Hallmark).
Not to say that the pieces are wildly shaped, they are mostly just not " two innies and two outies". Many of the European companies make their pieces very much alike, also The Rose Art Kodacolor , and Milton Bradley's Big Ben and Croxley puzzle pieces are much alike. Hope this helps. Nancy

I am really into Charles Wysocki's puzzles, and have 21 to my collection.

...I...would love to have the entire collection of puzzles from the artist "Byerley"...

I'm one of those collectors who likes Pauline Jackson. I had a Guild puzzle of "The Auction" as a kid and went looking for more. There is a fourth puzzle called "Quilting Party" that goes with the auction, the square dance, and the picnic. These four pictures also show up as prints on internet auctions. I have a print of "The Basket Weavers" too, so I am sure that it is also hers. There appear to be three others in this (Italian?) series: "Farming in Toscana", and "Sorrento." I own some of them as Tucos and some as Guild puzzles, in two different formats. She also illustrated several children's books, but I don't have any biographical information and would love to know more about her.

...years ago i bought this puzzle in a denver super market. it was called incredible edibles. but i havent been able to find them since. i would love to have another of these puzzles....

...4 small puzzles that connect to make 1 large puzzle-- Have already purchased National Geographic "Wildlife Scene"......are there any others? My grandkids love them...

....Lately, our interest has been hot air balloon puzzles....
The only other puzzles I've been enjoying are ones with multiple characters on them. They are fairly recent and put out by Golden/Western and they are designed to display all of the characters of a particular theme. I have one that shows all the Disney characters, all the Looney Tune characters, and all the Marvel Superhero characters. I'm told there is one for all the DC superheroes as well but no one has ever confirmed that with me. There are some other non-Golden puzzles that are similar such as one with many of the Peanuts characters on them.

from "M19"--30 October 2004:Hi
I currently have on my wall a jigsaw of various dc superheroes (xmen superman,fantastic four flash aquaman to name a few).
It was put out by the warner bros studio store in 1999. It had 1000 pieces in it and loks fantastic! Unfortunately all warner brothers stores went out of business.
Hope this helps

I love to put puzzles together, but I am having trouble finding puzzles. I like anything southwestern, like cowboys, cattle drives and things like that.

...the cobblestone way series by "kim jacoby"... are .... favorite puzzles of mine.

....puzzles by artist Rebecca Barker...called Quiltscapes.

...Victory Gold Box wooden puzzles....

...I'm a kid who really likes robert lyn nelsons seascapes puzzles and I own 8 of them presently....

I am a big Norman Rockwell fan and have started collecting and putting together his puzzles.

I have a few (~ 12) Jigmaps, some complete, most are not... All bought from what I think you folks call a thrift store (a charity shop in British English!)

Believe it or not, I cannot resist picking up these little puzzles [Jig-Maps] when I see them in the charity shops....

RE: "PAINTED LADIES"
I love these puzzles!

...Kodacolor 3d puzzles...

...[the] series of puzzles designed by Chris Davenport...

...Waddington’s Christmas Limited Edition Jigsaw Puzzles from 1994 to present....

...the "Talking Puzzles" made by Buffalo Games....

...Alan Maley's..."Past Impressions" series....

I'm not much of a puzzle afficionado, but I do love the Kodacolor/Roseart Painted Ladies....

...Joan Steiner's..."Look-Alike" series....

...Robert Blair Martins puzzles....

All the Springboks get my praise with their wonderful, weird shapes; even ones that look ugly on first glance turn out pretty. But the best of all are the Springbok collections, like beer cans or teddies; surprisingly challenging for 500 pieces.
Want to suffer? get a Shmuzzle -- pieces look like lizards, terrible hard. To make it harder they had lots of unicolor Shmuzzles. On a completely different note, the Heronim hometown "primitives" are full of detail and at 1000 tiny similar pieces a challenge, though the tiny box tops do not get my vote; no good for cheaters!

from kasia--12 May 2003:
My personal best puzzle is the "Creation of Man" by Ravensburger - 12096 pieces.
Creation of Adam
"Creation of Adam"
, by RAVENSBURGERTM
It took 7 months of my life, but not all the time was spent on puzzles of course.
Now I'm saving money to do the 18000-piece four maps by Ravensburger. I also
did the historical map of the world 9000, and the New York New York from 3D ones.
All of the puzzles are completed now and hanging on my walls :)).

Best regards,
kasia
ps. I am from Poland, and I'm very happy I found this site.
pps. I recall now that I've finished one of my 1000-piece puzzles in 6 hours.:
2 Mucha puzzles2 Mucha puzzles
four puzzles, from works of Alfons Mucha
See Q&A No. 1052 for other puzzles in my collection.

Best regards,
kasia

from Anne Williams--29 July 2003:
As far as jigsaw puzzles go, I do not think that "hardest"= "best".
I'm not a masochist who will work happily on a jigsaw puzzle for months, staring at it for days at a stretch but unable to fit any pieces in. Puzzles that are all one color are certainly hard, but I don't enjoy them. I need the reward of an interesting picture at the end. I also enjoy challenges and rewards as I go along -- some unusual way that the pieces fit together always interests me. I also like clever cutting in wood jigsaw puzzles.

Overall, I'd say I like puzzles with great figure pieces -- Pastimes, Falls puzzles, the personalized Pars -- and puzzles with irregular edges, and of course no picture on the box. I also like puzzles that come with stories, or that were great bargains, and that turn out to be complete.

Yet I've had a lot of fun with some non-great puzzles. At the Salvation Army thrift store I once found a bucket of pieces. They obviously came from several different puzzles (different thicknesses, and different colors on the backs) -- I guess some mother swept out the kids room and put all the pieces into this bucket. It cost 50 cents. I had a ball sorting them all out, and even got a couple of complete children's puzzles by the time I was done, and of course more incomplete ones.

from Anne Williams.
Anne is always looking for unusual stories about jigsaw puzzles.
You can reach her at: puzzles@bates.edu

from "BHB"--2 December 2003:
I have enjoyed several puzzles featuring art by Christian Riese Lassen's , an Hawaiian artist. The colors are brilliant, made of very good, thick paper, and interlock very well. If you do a search for the artist's name on the Internet, you will find his web site.
I bought these puzzles at my local Target store.

from "SS"--3 January 2004:
Hi, I just finished the Amish Harvest puzzle (1000 pcs) by Heronim. It was great! I have done over 30 puzzles and am also working on a 500 pc Van Gogh puzzle-which is NOT fun. It is part of a collection of Masterpeices. The Amish Harvest was great because of the different figures, buildings, etc....it was slightly challenging and not in the least frustrating, which this Van Gogh (Starry Night) puzzle is.

from "SA"--14 January 2005:
also wanted to say that I love your website. I am not a collector but an enthusiast. I only shop for puzzles at thrift stores. They are the best places to find older puzzles, which are usually better than new ones. I like to work all kinds. Big, small, round, square, whatever. The hardest one that I ever worked was made by Hoyle and was a picture of tons of dice. The biggest I ever worked was a MB Colossus. The interesting thing about it was that the cut of the pieces was repeated about 3/4 of the way across the puzzle. I especially like still life, boats, and balloons. Keep up the good work and thanks for all of the info.

from "FF"--10 August 2005:
My first puzzles were the Perfect Picture Double puzzles, and there is a web site for these. My most recent puzzle was a 6000 piece Clementoni, titled Magnolia garden, a great puzzle,with many tricky pieces, lots of extra straight edges, etc....
from "DDS"--26 February 2008:
One of our favorite puzzles was entitled Park Guell by Educa. The pieces were sturdy and varied in shape. What we really enjoyed about this puzzle was that the puzzle has 7 different scenes from Park Guell in Barcelona so it was like doing 7 mini puzzles at once.
Another favorite puzzle of ours was Vogue Café by Gibson. The pieces were larger and quite varied so it was a great deal of fun.

Chris McCann's book,Master Pieces: the Art History of Jigsaw Puzzles.

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