When economic depression took over the
world, the humble jigsaw came of age.
Around that time someone invented the
interlocking piece. Before then, if you sneezed you blew the whole lot away, but
now with the interlocking piece you could put them in place and they stayed
Those two little
inventions, kind of changed the future of the jigsaw puzzle.
But these two little inventions also applied to the cardboard puzzles, and as in
most cases the wooden jigsaw puzzle makers didn't think something cheap would
undo them But the cheap cardboard jigsaw puzzle crept in underneath and, like
the dinosaurs, the wooden jigsaw would soon go belly up.
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If your children
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Cardboard jigsaws were easy and cheap to make. But the profit on a wooden
jigsaw was considerable more than the profit on a cardboard jigsaw puzzle, but
cardboard jigsaw puzzles could be mass-produced.
The humble jigsaw puzzle now came of age. We now entered the age of the jigsaw.
The Roaring 20s or when there was money everywhere, there were many companies
making wooden jigsaw. The wooden jigsaws targeted the elite of the day, the
industrialists, the movie stars, the people with money, and at that time people
loved spending money.
They could afford those
jigs. On the weekends, Saturday morning was the big day when the elite of the
day used to buy the puzzles for their weekend parties up at Newport or where
Then disaster struck, disaster for the world but not for the jigsaw industry.
In 1929 the Great Depression shook the world. That was the problem, the
depression, but the depression was the golden age of jigsaws, you wouldn't think
it but it was.
About that time marketing executives invented the free advertising jigsaw. They
were giving away free jigsaw puzzles when you brought a toothbrush, a
flashlight, a cigarette lighter or whatever from the corner drug store. When you
brought a small item you would get a free jigsaw puzzle. They were advertising
jigsaws and the pictures were usually brand name toothpaste or whatever.
That idea is still actually around. When I was in China, in early 2000
MacDonald’s were giving away these free jigsaw puzzles to the kids. Puzzles of
Ronald MacDonald and the other creatures, a good advertising gimmick. So maybe a
marketing idea from the depression is still good today.
The demise of the wooden jigsaw was already on the horizon.
During the depression about 25% of the working population were out of work, so
money to spend on entertainment was hard to find. But cardboard jigsaws were
cheap and could be played again and again, and then they could be traded or
shared. So the working class people loved them.
Then in March 1932 out came the “Jig of the Week” or the “Weekly Jig.”
It came out for 25 cents every Wednesday it was on the newsstand. They came out
in many different series including ‘Movie picture weekly,’ ‘B witching
jig’ and the ‘Jigers weekly.’
Movie posters with your favorite actors and actresses cut up into jigsaw
puzzles were very popular. Even today Movie posters are still popular, I’ve
seen them on little tin cigarette boxes.
So with the competition from the inexpensive weekly jig and the free jigsaw
advertisements, the woodcut jigsaws were slowly going under.
During the Depression Parr Puzzles started up in 1932, this little outfit was
dubbed the Rolls Royce of jigsaw puzzles and it is still going today.
They made interlocking jigsaws that targeted the affluent people, the movie
stars and industrialist and the elite of the time, even Royalty.
And for one of the latest additions to their elite list, they made a heart
shaped puzzle of George and Barbara Bush. And Parr Puzzles actually received a
thank you note on White House stationary.
Even now Parr Puzzles are
still the Rolls Royce of jigsaw puzzles, but at present day prices of $1 a piece
and an average of 500 pieces, they are quite expensive.
back in the days of the Great Depression there was neither TV nor video and only
a few movies came out, but it was the golden age of the jigsaw.
Anyway I'll leave this here and we'll
continue with the fascinating life of the jigsaw puzzle next time.
by © Peter Legrove 2006, at www.animalsdinosaursandbugs.com
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