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Jigsaw puzzling

From Chris Calver's collection

Jigsaw puzzles have fascinated me since childhood; there was nearly always one in progress at my grandparents' house and several were available at home, and there were always jigsaws on farm cottage holidays..

It was only within the last 10 years that I purchased the books shown in the photograph which inform readers that jigsaws were invented by John Splibury in 1760 following his apprenticeship to Thomas Jeffries in London, a map maker and engraver. Puzzles were, from the outset, intended to be educational and informative, and initially only the outer frame was interlocking. Fully interlocking puzzles appeared in Britain around 1820 possibly 50 years behind such development in France and Germany. For completeness the 54 piece jigsaws in boxes shown in the photograph are from the USA and the other is from the Tretyrkov Gallery in Moscow.

At the Lit and Phil over the past year several people have noticed that I have been busy with puzzles, sometimes in the main library and often outside the bookbinding room. I only tackle puzzles with 500 pieces as these do not take too long and can be stored with my binding projects.

Puzzles can be bought from charity shops (or the brilliant shop in Rothbury) and I relax my 500 piece rule if there is a really interesting picture; such a recent find was of Esher's writing hands. My favourite subjects are rural cottages, especially for their gardens, complicated patterns, e.g. one depicting liquorice all-sorts, and paintings or photographs of structures such as bridges and railway scenes.

A lady leaving a lecture noticed a railway scene 'in progress', and mentioned it would make one of her relatives an excellent Christmas present. She returned 2 weeks later, made a donation to the Society and I showed her the completed puzzle and returned the pieces to the box....  so three people were happy from one jigsaw.

If you click on the picture below you can do this jigsaw of the interior of the Lit & Phil online yourself! For full instructions click on the question mark at the top right of the screen on the puzzle page.

And another, rather more challenging one (and no picture clue this time either !).




About the author

Chris Calver

Chris has long been a member of the Lit & Phil.

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