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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 there. 

 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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  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 ever.

  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.

But 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.

Article by © Peter Legrove 2006, at www.animalsdinosaursandbugs.com      

**You have permission to reprint this article. Use it on your website, in your ezine or newsletter or in any printed form. The only requirement is to include the footnote at the base of the article and not change the wording** 





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