At the start of the 1930s, life looked pretty gloomy here in the United States. What had been a roaring economy had experienced a collapse of the magnitude that sent a lot of previously employed people scrambling to get by. Like so many others, that’s when Frank Ware and John Henriques suddenly found themselves with a lot of time on their hands.
I’m sure a lot of us can relate to that particular dilemma. There are, of course, lots of “essential workers” maintaining critical supply lines and taking care of the desperately ill. Many of the rest of us are fortunate enough to be working from home through mandated social distance. But there are a lot of people throughout the US and around the world who have been forced into, hopefully temporary, unemployment while our world works to shake off Covid-19.
And judging from the many pictures on my social media feeds, a lot of folks are turning to jigsaw puzzles to pass the time and keep their minds sharp. That’s exactly what Frank and John did. Frank was a gifted artist and John was a skilled woodworker. Both of them liked puzzles.
And so, the two teamed up to create wooden jigsaw puzzles, ushering in the concept of irregular edges, specially shaped pieces made to order, and a par completion time, so that puzzle-doers could be extra frustrated and also have the pleasure of feeling badly about themselves.
The puzzles were a hit with a public that didn’t have much entertainment budget. Frank and John filled special orders, but they also began offering many of their puzzles for affordable rent. Each one came in a black box without the benefit of a guiding picture.
As most puzzle manufacturers were looking for ways to mass produce a cheaper product, Frank and John’s “Par puzzles,” were handcrafted, high-quality works of art that found an enthusiastic audience. The rental program ended in the 1960s, but the puzzles have become collectors’ items. And the Par Puzzles Company, begun in 1932 in New York, is still going strong today, continuing to offer unique, high quality, hand-crafted puzzles for upwards of a thousand dollars each.
According to their website, they even still have a few in stock, which is nice, because rumor has it puzzles are becoming almost as difficult to obtain as toilet paper. I’ll probably stick to the much cheaper mass-produced cardboard version normally available from hobby and discount stores. I enjoy jigsaw puzzles when I’ve got plenty of time to do them. Fortunately, I already have a shelf full of them waiting for a time such as this.
Perhaps I’ll start a rental business.
Stay healthy, my friends!
14 thoughts on “Puzzled Over the Novel Corona Virus”
Fortunately, we have a large number of puzzles for everybody that likes to do them. Par Puzzles are not really at my level of budget either plus I bet they have more than seven pieces.
Probably. But I bet you could special order a seven piece puzzle. Might even knock a hundred bucks or so off the price. 😉
Excellent. There’s also online jigsaws for when you run out, e,g, jigsawplanet.com where you can even use your own pictures and select the number of pieces and shapes. It’s not as community driven as regular jigsaws – sort of more like playing solitaire! – but I still find it mind-absorbing. Stay safe!
I wouldn’t have even thought to look for such a thing. Thank you!
I started a new puzzle a few days ago! Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone to help with it right now… Stay safe and I hope you are doing well!
I appreciate that I don’t have to feel hurried to get it finished. No one’s coming over anytime soon so my ever-present card table isn’t going to be in anyone’s way.
That’s an impressive collection of puzzles!! So far, I’ve been too busy to dive into my few puzzle choices, but Mr Husband and I did break out some board (bored?) games the other night.
My family as a whole is not that into board games. I love them and so does my youngest son, but the other two are hard to convince to play.
I can’t remember the last time we played a board game…there was a little rule bending along the way.
House rules are the best ones.
Oh gosh thanks to these two guys, because puzzles have been a key ingredient in happy, busy minds around our house these days! What a great post, and what a magnificent closet full of puzzles! I only have three left and then I’ll have to start some do-overs haha.
My husband says if we run out we’ll start dumping out two together for an added challenge.
Hahaha there’s an idea!!