Saturday, March 10, 2007

“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 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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved jigsaws when I was a kid. I saw a TV show recently where some little horror was given one as a present and threw it on the ground in disgust. I guess that he wanted an 'X box'.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

My daughters and I used to do puzzles all the time, so much fun and conversation. This one is very unique.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


just posted a blog about the new play, "Bill W and Dr. Bob." referred in it to your blog and date i'd like to have from you. so, if you have a chance....

yours, naomi

10:07 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I'm not a fan; I think I've done only one in my life, but I can see how it could be a family/social thing.

10:13 AM  
Blogger dmmgmfm said...

That is beautiful! My son and I did puzzles all the time when he was young. He was always better at it than me. :)

12:47 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Naomi, in her blog site "A Little Red Hen" explains about her interest in alcoholism. She asked for the entrys on my blog that have to do with the subject and (in case there are others who are interested) they are:

July 22nd, "Cease Expecting..."
Sept 6th, "Spirituality..."
Sept. 19th "My license plate.."
Sept. 27th, "1963..Dr's orders"
Oct. 7th "It takes many..."
Nov. 6th "Sins of Omission..."
Dec. 2nd "Taking Stock"
Dec. 22nd "An Un-merry ..."
Jan. 9th "In loving..."
Jan 15th, "Surviving Survival.."

Thanks, Naomi, for the request. I take it as a privilege to be able to reach out to other alcoholics.

3:32 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

I adore puzzles. I have tried to do at least one big one per year. I set one up in January, and my cats had other ideas. The morning after I had painstakingly pieced together the whole outer rim of a large puzzle, my cats knocked 9/10ths of it on the floor. I guess if I ever do another one, it will be in a room that I can shut the door on when I leave.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I hadn't thought about jigsaw puzzles in a long time. That's an interesting story about its origins. I too, had a sister who was a bit of a sneak. Guess it goes with the territory:0) It sounds as though working a jigsaw puzzle with a spouse could become the next conflict resolution technique. Hmmmm.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

I used to do alot of jig saws years ago, and I would display them under our glass dining table for everyone to see. As you said, a great talking point.
A wooden puzzle, it is so gorgeous :)

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ginnie and by the way....Welcome back and glad you had a nice trip.

Not big on puzzles since the old eyes aren't as sharp as they use to be, even with glasses. Use to do one from time to time when I was younger.

I really like the archaic picture of the puzzle you posted.

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, it's been years since I worked a jigsaw puzzel. I loved them as a kid and it was a great way to pass a rainy day.
Interesting info on the beginning of puzzels.
I can see your sister was a

5:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it a replica of a work of art?? It looks to be. But maybe the it's a work of art in of itself. I love the image.

It would be nice if you could put up a side bar category by the subject to list your posts that way on the front. I needed help to do mine.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Melly` said...

Jonah and the whale - is a beautiful puzzle.

My life partner likes to do jigsaw puzzles. Sometimes it can annoy me.. because the only tables we have in the house that can support it are the dining table or the coffee table. And sometimes challenging puzzles will take him and the kids weeks! Or it feels like weeks.

Obviously we need a bigger house.. or I need to stop entertaining. Neither is going to happen in the near future. I dont complain.. I just wish I had the space when I go to serve dinner or nibblies for friends and didnt have to apologise for the.. used space.

Puzzles are infinately better than when he takes chainsaws or other power tools apart on them.

I like it when they are busy and happy. I just take any opportunity to whinge! Thanks for letting me!

5:08 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes! The pleasure of doing puzzles with others! I have so many fond memories of doing puzzles on and off all day long during long, Arctic Wisconsin Sundays. So many discussions, so many triumphs, so much chuckling. Thanks for this post.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a time when a jigsaw puzzle was part of relaxing after Christmas day dinner. My sons seldom seemed to have time for puzzles, but those holiday afternoons and evenings will always be favorites in my memories.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Hi, Ginnie. Of my two daughters, my older one loves to do puzzles and my younger one couldn't care less. The older one treasures her puzzles and does them over and over; I think it's meditative for her. She used to do them and leave completed puzzles all over her bedroom floor, like little throw rugs.

And me? I'm not a puzzle person at all. I'd rather create something all new.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday I bought my grown daughter a jigsaw puzzle and a gift card from Barnes and Noble. The puzzle is of:

"Mad Ludwig's Dream - Neuschwanstein Castle: Perched over one of the world's prettiest gorges, Neuschwanstein Castle is everyone's fantasy dream. It's the image you've seen everywhere that makes you want to start planning your trip to Germany"

My daughter and son in law(he has relatives in Germany) and their two children went to Bavaria this last summer and visited this castle so I thought the family and especailly the children would enjoy this puzzle.

11:17 AM  
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4:49 PM  

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