Frequently Asked Questions (& Answers)

puzzlehistory.com
How do I ask a question? ANSWER
How can I get a replacement piece for my puzzle? ANSWER
I do not have the box or guide picture. How can I get a picture of the puzzle? ANSWER
How much is my puzzle worth? ANSWER
Isn't there a guide to prices of old jigsaw puzzles? ANSWER
The pictures are so small. How can I see them better? ANSWER
I can't find my puzzle listed on this site. Does that mean it's rare? ANSWER
How can I order a puzzle I have seen on this site? ANSWER
How can I find out exactly how many pieces should be in my puzzle, so I know whether it is complete, without having to assemble it? ANSWER
How can I frame and mount my puzzle? ANSWER
Should I glue it together? ANSWER
How can I get a puzzle made from a picture I have? ANSWER
Are the puzzles shown on puzzlehistory.com available for sale? ANSWER
Can I combine two incomplete puzzles to make one complete one? ANSWER
How can I get English instructions for a foreign 3-D Sculpture puzzle? ANSWER
How can I look for a certain puzzle on this site? ANSWER
How can I learn more about my puzzle on this site? ANSWER
How are jigsaw puzzles made? ANSWER
How can I sell my pictures to a jigsaw puzzle company? ANSWER
What is the history of the jigsaw puzzle? ANSWER
What if I can't find an answer to my question? Use our Q&A feature !

·How do I ask a question?
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from puzzlehistory.com
We provide this website as a service to the puzzling public. Due to the volume of mail, we are unable to answer all letters.
PLEASE look first at the common questions and answers below. Also, use our SEARCH page to find terms pertinent to your inquiry. [See
below]
We receive many questions for which there is already an answer on our site.
If you have searched our site without finding an answer, use our Q&A feature !
HOWEVER, we will probably not process your inquiry if you leave the Subject line blank, fail to give us specific information which we need to understand your question, or if the answer is already readily available on our site. It will often help us if you will give an inquiry and/or page number and specific information about the puzzle and what you want to know about it.
Thanks, Jim McW

·I bought a puzzle from a store, and there is a piece (or pieces ) missing. How can I get a replacement piece (or pieces)?
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from Jim McW
We do not represent any puzzle manufacturer or retailer.
Do NOT ask for replacement pieces simply because you have lost them! Do not ask for replacement pieces before you have assembled the puzzle: many puzzles LOOK incomplete, until the last piece goes in...and it's complete! (Almost all puzzles look that way to me.)
If the puzzle is an older one, it is probably no longer available from retail outlets, and very possibly not from the publisher, either. However, you may be able to find another copy by searching the secondary market, such as internet auction sites, antique stores, garage sales, boot sales, bazaars, etc. Please note that two imcomplete puzzles do not a complete puzzle make! (
See below.)
You may also be able to craft a replacement piece, if you are the arts/craftsy type person. There's a few people out there who do this, mostly for their own puzzles, but see our LINKS page for at least one person who has apparently offered to make replacement pieces for a small fee.
If the puzzle is recently published, and you have assembled all the pieces, and you know the cat didn't eat them, see the following note we received from Nancy Ballhagen on this subject.
Thanks, Jim McW
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from Nancy Ballhagen--14 July 2001: To all who have missing pieces [at purchase]. This is the responsibility of the puzzle manufacturer, and you should always contact them first when this happens. Sometimes they no longer make the puzzle and you may be out of luck, but the puzzle should be replaced if it is still in stock. This will apply to new puzzles only, and this is in the case of MISSING PIECES ONLY, NOT LOST PIECES.

·I do not have the box or guide picture. How can I get a picture of the puzzle?
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from Jim McW
Many puzzlers prefer to assemble jigsaw puzzles without looking at the guide picture. Indeed, guide pictures were rarely provided before the early 1930's.
If you want a guide picture, you will probably have to find a similar puzzle on-line and print the picture. Puzzle manufacturers do not replace pieces or boxes which have been lost after purchase.

·How much is my puzzle worth?
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from Jim McW

Please do not write to us asking what your puzzle is worth. We don't offer appraisal services. However, here's some general guidance:
A puzzle's greatest value is in putting together the puzzle with family or friends!
It's monetary value depends on a number of factors:
1) COMPLETENESS (All pieces present and original? )
2) CONDITION (What condition are the pieces in? )
3) CONDITION (What condition is the box in? )
4) IDENTIFICATION (Artist, title, maker, and subject )
5) RARITY (Is it scarce or common? )
6) DEMAND (How popular is the type or theme? )
7) PRESENTATION (How well can you describe and depict the puzzle? - includes salesmanship! )
8) VENUE (Where and when will it bring the best price.)
9) LUCK (This includes all those imponderables....)

Two identical puzzles (this is true of almost all collectibles, by the way) may bring very different prices in different auctions. See more discussion in the next answer, just below.
One way to get an idea of the value of your puzzle is to search on internet auctions for sales of puzzles similar to yours.

Thanks, Jim McW

·Isn't there a guide to prices of old jigsaw puzzles?
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from Jim McW
There is Jigsaw Puzzles: An Illustrated History and Price Guide, by Anne Williams, as well as Chris McCann's book,
Master Pieces: the Art History of Jigsaw Puzzles. Each of these books gives some general guidance as to values of different kinds of puzzles. However, there is no "red book" or "blue book" of old jigsaw puzzles.
Think about it. At least tens of thousands of different cardboard jigsaw puzzles have been published over the last 70 years, by scores of different companies. It would be almost impossible even to list all the titles, much less list the values of each puzzle. Add the range of conditions the puzzles can possess and the variety of situations in which sales may take place, and the imponderability of such a task becomes evident.
Any price guide, even for a well-defined market, such as coins or stamps, is only approximate, anyway. A collectible may fail to bring even a modest price for months or even years, then fetch an unpredictably higher price.
See more discussion in the answer just above.
Thanks, Jim McW

·The pictures are so small. How can I see them better?
***************
from Jim McW
Many of the pictures provided on our site are available only in the small size you see when you first arrive at a page. However, many of them are also available in a larger, easier to see format.
You can see the larger picture, when available, simply by clicking on the small picture. The frame should change to a larger version of the same picture. When you wish to return to the previous page, simply click on the "BACK" button of your browser.
Another way to look at the larger pictures, if you wish, is to right-click on the thumbnail picture and choose "Open Link in New Window" (or a similar command). Then, you can simply close that window when you've finished with it.
Of course, the larger the picture, the longer it may take for slower systems to load it.
Thanks, Jim McW

·I can't find my puzzle listed on this site. Does that mean it's rare?
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There has been many, many thousands of individual issues of puzzles published over the last 200 years or so. Most large puzzle publishers issue at least ten or twenty titles per year, and some publish many more than that. Most of the comprehensive listings of puzzles titles on our site are here because some person or persons did a considerable amount of work and study to compile a list and was kind enough to let us post the list here. Some lists are the combined work of various people who have written in to us with titles from puzzles in their own collections.
However, we are able to list on our website only a tiny fraction of all puzzles published. Only a few of our pages even approach complete listings.
Thanks, Jim McW

·How can I order a puzzle I have seen on this site?
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Most of the puzzles you see here are not for sale, since most of the pictures have been provided by many different collectors of jigsaw puzzles, all over the world. Some of them are in our own collection, though, and we occasionally sell some puzzles to make room for "new" old puzzles that we may acquire! We try to post those puzzles which we have available on the
SALE pages, but we are always behind, so don't hesitate to write and ask us about a certain puzzle or type of puzzle, and we will see if we have one.
(Please be patient, though! We do this in our spare time, and we are always at least 2 weeks behind.)
Thanks, Jim McW

·How can I find out exactly how many pieces should be in my puzzle, so I know whether it is complete, without having to assemble it?
***************
from Jim McW
We frequently receive questions about how many pieces a certain puzzle or series of puzzles contain, for ascertaining whether the puzzle is complete or not. Most die cut puzzles can in effect be described as strip cut ( regular interlocking pieces in both vertical and horizontal). If this is the case, then, by assembling one vertical and one horizontal edge and counting the number of pieces in the vertical and the number in the horizontal and multiplying these two numbers, the total number of pieces can sometimes be determined.
This can also be used with some hand-cut, wooden puzzles but with some caution, since the cutter may sometimes first cut his board into smaller sections and then divide up the sections in such a way as to arrive at, or very close to, the desired total.

In any case, we do not believe that counting pieces is a fool-proof method of determining completeness, for a number of reasons:

1) The number of pieces printed on most boxes is approximate and usually labelled as such ("approximately" or "more than" ).
2) The number of pieces can vary from puzzle to puzzle within the same series.
3) Dies can break or make incomplete cuts, resulting in two pieces "coming out as one".
4) When a piece is accidentally left out of a box, it often gets into the next box on the assembly line. If this happens, and another piece is left out of that puzzle, it will seem to have the right number of pieces, but it will actually have one missing and one extra piece.
5) Some of the more challenging puzzles are impossible to estimate, so the number on the box can only be considered a guide.
6) Occasionally, puzzlers somehow get a piece from one puzzle into the box of another puzzle. So, a "correct" count is not a guarantee of a complete puzzle.
7) There's probably some other reasons...for instance:
8) If you are as absent-minded as I am, you may have to count the pieces two or three times to get an accurate count! (Just kidding.)
Thanks, Jim McW

·I want to frame and mount my puzzle on the wall. How do I do that? Should I glue it together?
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from Jim McW and other "puzzlers"
We certainly understand the urge to frame and mount puzzles. We are not enthusiastic about gluing puzzles together, but many people seem to be pleased with the results. We believe that it is usually possible, with a small- to average-sized puzzle, to frame and mount it without glue. We suspect that some puzzles are more susceptible than others to fading and foxing (spotting, basically) from long-term excessive exposure to sunlight and modern airborne particulates.
Anne Williams, in Jigsaw Puzzles: An Illustrated History and Price Guide, seems not to favor the use of glue. She mentions a "plastic box frame" as the best means of displaying your puzzles on a wall. She also cautions that long-term display in this way can lead to fading of the colors of a puzzle, and she suggests rotating the puzzles on display, to help avoid this fading.
One may also use a simple arrangement of composite wood backboard, a clear vinyl cover sheet, and four metal frame pieces, which clamp onto the edges of the board and vinyl. These form the frame. You may want to try using double sided tape to keep the puzzle from slipping ( but the tape may damage the pieces).
See also:
Q&A No. 450,
Page 32
Q&A No. 517, Page 37
Q&A No. 796, Page 55
Q&A No. 803, Page 56
Q&A No. 1306, Page 82
Q&A No. 1341, Page 84

Custom Search

·How can I get a puzzle made from a picture I have?
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There is a number of different sources for personalized puzzles. There's several sites which may do at least one puzzle from a photo provided by the customer, including :
Magic Labs
--a shop cited in Q&A no. 220, Page 16
-- http://www.angelfire.com/biz2/puzzle/
-- http://snapshotpuzzles.com/
-- Jigsawpuzzle.com
-- Photos2Puzzles.com
-- http://www.solopuzzles.com/ (en Espaņol)
-- UpInPieces.Com
-- PositivelyPuzzled.com
-- Jigspuzzles.com
-- There's also an offer in the latest Spilsbury catalog ( spilsbury.com or toll-free 1-800-772-1760 )
We have no affiliation with these companies and provide this information solely as a service to the puzzling community.
Thanks, Jim McW

·Are the puzzles shown on puzzlehistory.com available for sale?
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Most of them are not, since most of the pictures have been provided by many different collectors of jigsaw puzzles, all over the world. Some of them are in our own collection, though, and we occasionally sell some puzzles to make room for "new" old puzzles that we may acquire! We try to post those puzzles which we have available on the
SALE pages, but we are always behind, so don't hesitate to write and ask us about a certain puzzle or type of puzzle, and we will see if we have one. (Please be patient, though! We do this in our spare time, and we are always at least 2 weeks behind.)
Thanks, Jim McW

·I have an old puzzle with some pieces missing. If I were able to find an identical puzzle, also incomplete, would I be able to combine the two incomplete puzzles to form one complete puzzle?
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from Jim McW
I have been told that it is usually difficult to do this. One would assume that pieces are machine-cut and thus are always the same shape. In practice, many puzzles have been cut with different dies. Sometimes, two dies are used on each puzzle: one die for the horizontal cuts and another for the vertical cuts. Even if two puzzles were cut from the same die or two dies, the pieces from one puzzle still may not fit well in the other puzzle. Dies can change shape slightly, or develop wear, or break - sometimes repairs must be made. Also, individual, uncut puzzle boards may be aligned to the dies with slight variations. The only way that a piece could fit perfectly in another puzzle would be if the two puzzles had been struck with absolutely identical alignment. That is possible but probably not frequent. We have heard from one person who claimed to have completed a single puzzle this way.
See our
Puzzle Cuts page for some pictures which may provide some introduction.
See TUCO Puzzle Site for further discussion of this topic.
Thanks, Jim McW

·How can I get an English version of the instructions for a foreign language 3-D Sculpture puzzle?
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We have rarely been able to get anyone to send us a copy of the instructions, with two exceptions, one of which we have posted in No. 643,
Page 45, of the Q&A pages. The procedure for any of this series of puzzles should be somewhat similar to that outlined in those instructions. [Note: See no. 1560, Page 97, also]

·How can I look for a certain puzzle on this site?
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Our
SEARCH PAGE is currently out of order.

We are experiencing difficulties with our SEARCH FEATURE. You may be able to do a search on some major search engines for the particular term or phrase which describes the item for which you are looking. On some search sites, you can actually specify a particular website to search.
You can also use the various links on our home page. If your question pertains to Milton Bradley puzzles, for instance, click on our Milton Bradley link and browse through that section. If your question pertains to a particular artwork, try our ARTISTS link. As always, remember that the vast majority of the puzzles depicted on this site are NOT for sale here.

Here's a tip you can use, regardless of which search engine you are using:
Try different spellings of a "keyword" in the title of the puzzle you're looking for.
For instance, if you're trying to find " Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg ", type in
Pickett
or
Pickett's
or
Gettysburg
or
Gettysberg
in the search window.
Then, press the SEARCH button.

·How can I learn more about my puzzle on this site?
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See the item just above.
Try a search by typing in the title of your puzzle, or the name of the maker, or one or two words that suggest the theme of your puzzle.

·How are jigsaw puzzles made?
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This question is technically several questions, since the techniques are different for wooden and cardboard puzzles. There is even different techniques within these two general types of jigsaw puzzles. In addition, there are three-dimensional puzzles, metal jigsaw puzzles, plastic jigsaw puzzles, and other varieties.
For the vast majority of jigsaw puzzles, a picture is attached to (usually glued to) a piece of wood or cardboard (or other material).:
WOODEN PUZZLES - Almost all wooden puzzles are hand-cut by a person, on a jig-saw or a scroll saw, for instance, after the picture has been attached to the wooden board.
CARDBOARD PUZZLES - After the picture is attached to the cardboard, it is trimmed to size, then it is die-cut. This means there is a machine that has a die (or, more usually, two dies) with the shapes of the pieces, the machine cuts the laminated picture, the operator then pushes the puzzle out, and it goes onto a conveyor belt. The puzzle travels through a breaker, the pieces go down the chute and into a bag which gets sealed (or directly into the box, which is then sealed).
FOAM PUZZLES - Some puzzles have the picture attached to a foam backing (especially 3-D or three-dimensional puzzles). They are made much the same way as cardboard puzzles.

·How can I sell my pictures to a jigsaw puzzle company?
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We do not represent any puzzle manufacturer or retailer.
You need to contact the puzzle producer yourself or obtain representation by a professional agent.

·What is the history of the jigsaw puzzle?
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Linda Hannas, The English Jigsaw Puzzle:1760 to 1890, establishes John Spilsbury, printer, as a publisher of "Dissected Maps" no later than 1763, in Russell Court, London. Stukje Voor Stukje: Geschiedenis van de Legpuzzle in Nederland, by Betsy and Geert Bekkering, includes the story, somewhat skeptically, that Queen Christina of Sweden ordered her most beautiful paintings to be cut to pieces to make them into puzzles and had them glued on to the the ceilings, circa 1650. Some have claimed that some "dissected maps" were produced on the Continent a few years before Spilsbury began producing his.

18th and 19th century jigsaw puzzles were almost all hand-cut wooden puzzles. At first, educational themes predominated, but soon, more entertaining topics and treatments became popular. Cardboard puzzles appeared in the late 1800's, but did not become very common until the 1920's or so, when die-cutting techniques were invented which made the process more economical. The further development of this technology and, perhaps, the Depression, led to the Great Jigsaw Puzzle Boom, which began in the early 1930's. Jigsaw puzzles have continued to be popular to this day, although the industry has seen constant changes.

The history of the jigsaw puzzle, like any history, can hardly be encompassed in a brief statement. This entire website is designed to explore some aspects of the history of jigsaw puzzles. For more details, see various pages on this site, such as Record-Breaking Puzzles, Milton Bradley, Chad Valley, Huvanco, Madmar, McLoughlin, Parker Bros., Victory, Waddingtons, Tuck's Zag-Zaw, Zig-Zag, and many others.

Several books have been published about jigsaw puzzles' history (including:
The Jigsaw Puzzle, Piecing Together a History, by Anne D. Williams
Jigsaw Puzzles: An Illustrated History and Price Guide, by Anne D. Williams
Master Pieces: The Art History of Jigsaw Puzzles, by Chris McCann
British Jigsaw Puzzles of the 20th Century, by Tom Tyler
The English Jigsaw Puzzle: 1760 to 1890, by Linda Hannas
The Jigsaw Book, by Linda Hannas
TUCO Puzzles: 1932-1957, by Sterling Mason
The One, The Only, The Original Jigsaw Puzzle Book, by Francene and Louis Sabin
Stukje Voor Stukje: Geschiedenis van de Legpuzzle in Nederland, by Betsy and Geert Bekkering
Springbok Puzzle List, by Frances Main, revised by Julie Tallent
Scroll Saw Art Puzzles, by Tony and June Burns
Victory Jig-Saw Puzzles, by Brian P Price.
There's several websites devoted to the history of jigsaw puzzles (you can see our LINKS page for links to them).
For an excellent essay, see www.icollectpuzzles.com.
Furthermore, the history of jigsaw puzzles is still being written! Not only are a few dedicated collectors and researchers continuing this work, but there are new developments every year. The puzzles which are being released this season are, or will be, a part of that history.

·What if I can't find an answer to my question?
***************
We provide this website as a service to the puzzling public. Due to the volume of mail, we are unable to answer all letters.
PLEASE look first at the common questions and answers below. Also, use our SEARCH page to find terms pertinent to your inquiry. We receive many questions for which there is already an answer on our site. [However, see item above on SEARCH.]
If you have searched our site without finding an answer, write to our Q&A page !
HOWEVER, we will probably not process your inquiry if you leave the Subject line blank, fail to give us specific information which we need to understand your question, or if the answer is already readily available on our site. It will often help us if you will give an inquiry and/or page number and specific information about the puzzle and what you want to know about it.

You may also mail your questions to the following address. Thanks, Jim McW

puzzlehistory.com
P.O. Box 8059
Austin, TX 78713-8059 USA

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

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