“JONAH and the WHALE”...wood puzzle
My daughter and son-in-law gave me this wood puzzle in 1988. It came from an Estate in Garrison, NY. I assumed that it was from the Orient but Bob Armstrong*, a leading expert on the subject, tells me that jig-saw puzzles are a western phenomenon. He also surmises, since the pieces are not interlocking, that it probably dates to the late 1800’s.
This, of course, is not technically a “jig-saw” puzzle because the pieces were probably cut by a fretsaw, but the theory is the same. A picture was adhered to a wood board and then dissected. Evidently this whole puzzle craze started around 1790 when a London map maker mounted a map on a sheet of hardwood and then, using a fine thin saw, cut around the boundaries of the counties. It was his idea to use this as an educational tool to help children learn geography.
I grew up putting jig-saw puzzles together. I remember that we had two card tables pushed together with a white sheet on top. It was always covered with half-finished puzzles and every time we passed by we would put in a piece or two. Or, we might sit for hours trying to get it done in one night. It used to infuriate me to get to the end and find that one piece was missing…especially when my older sister would mysteriously “find” the piece. She thought that was the funniest thing in the world ...to always be the “winner”, the one to place the final piece.
As I grew older I realized that the puzzle table was a great place to carry on a conversation. There’s something about working with another and watching a puzzle come to life that opens up the lines of communication. Piece by piece the picture would appear (just as would the solution to many problems).
There are lots of advantages to working a jig-saw puzzle. It can provide hours of entertainment for a small price, the puzzles can be recycled and traded with other enthusiasts and it is a great way to reduce stress. Of course, as in any pastime, it can become addictive…but, as addictions go, it is certainly a harmless one.
* Bob Armstrong's Old Jigsaw Puzzles