German Zag Zaw Puzzles

 Tuck established the Berlin branch business in 1907, for the sale of their Oilette postcards and other British publications. This Berlin branch of Raphael Tuck & Sons, was in a most profitable state. In June 1915 important sums being due to the Company from customers throughout Germany and Austria. In 1915 it was seized by the German authorities. These was the end of a process that started soon after the outbreak of WW I. Violent attacks, directed against the company, were published in some 200 journals throughout the German Empire. These attacks finally culminated in the sequestration of the business by the authorities  in 1915.

German Zag Zaw puzzles were produced in Berlin for about 6 years. I know of two German catalogs being published in 1912-13 and 1913-14. These catalogs show many similarities with the English catalogs of the time, but are clearly directed towards the German public. This is most obvious in the recommendations by the  German royalty.

Since most of the pre WW I Zag-Zaw puzzles in my collection, that are bought in the Netherlands (and come from Duch families), are of German origin, I must assume that the Berlin branch supplied the Continent (including the Netherlands) rather than the London branch did.

The special LONG LINE cutting style (see below) is also seen in the puzzle brand 'Schutzmarke Katharina' of the Berlin Company S. Radovan & Co. that started producing puzzles during the 1909 craze, but was prolific during and after WW I. Did they take over the Tuck puzzle business in Germany?

The German branch had it's own inprint on boxes that are very similar to the English boxes. The same refers to the label. There are ZAG-Zaw puzzles known with an English box, a German label and the German cutting style in solid wood. These seem to be te earlyest German Zag-Zaw puzzles, c. 1910. All  prints on German Zag-Zaw puzzles seem to be of English origin, mostly color litoghraphies, some of them clearly are 'oilette prints'.

The boxlid reads: ZAG-ZAW / ges geschützt / MOSAIK GEDULD SPIEL PUZZLE / Rapael Tuck & Sons - Berlin - Paris - London - New York.

The box is 10.7 x 18.4 3.1 cm

The German notion "MOSAIK" is typical for the period of the first craze, where no name for this type of puzzle was 'fixed' in any language.

The  6 x 8 cm label at the back side of the box makes clear that these puzzles are: "The newest Pastime for the well educated people of all  classes".

The Berlin branch address was: Berlin S.W. 48.

The German puzzles most probably were cut in Germany (Berlin), because they have a distinct cuting pattern, very different from the English Zag Zaw Puzzles. The cutter could devide the puzzle in two intricate parts with one continuous cut, turning at more or less right angles, cutting in a straight or a more wavy line. As a second step, the intricate puzzle halves were cut into pieces. I called this way of cutting: LONG LINE. The puzle in the above box "In the Park, after an original by Reginald West"  shows this way of cutting in an incomplete way,  the lines are not that long, as can be seen in the next picture.

In the Park, after an original by Reginald West

18 x 11 cm, about 50 pieces, solid poplar (?) wood, so probaly pre 1910. This is an Oilette print.

To see what I mean with 'LONG LINE cutting', pick up a cut at the border of the puzzle ad follow it inwards. You will find that it is either a long line, ending in another long line or ending at the border, or the cut is short to create a piece.


Keeping watch, after E Stretton

puzzle 17.9 x 27.4 x  0.5 cm, solid wood, imperfect LONG LINE cutting style. 153 pieces. It seems appropriate that one piece is chewn by a dog.

box 21.2 x 12.2 x 4.6 cm as a Tuck box but without the English imprint on te box. German Label at the botom of the box

Collection G.Bekkering


Knospen und Blüten (Buds and Flowers = nice girls), after Henry Ryland

300 pieces 32 x 45 cm, LONG LINE cutting pattern. 5 mm solid wood.

box 21.4 x 25.2 x 6.2 cm. English print on box lid, German label at the botom of the box

Collection G.Bekkering

picture will come


I do own three souvenir puzzles cut from postcards in the German way in a German box 10 x 15.5 x 2 cm with a German label, all depicting Amsterdam scenes and cut on two-ply-wood (birch). Since in this puzzle one piece does not exactly fit, I think the puzzles were stack cut, though the nail holes are missing.

Left:  Hugo de Grootkade en Raampoort, AMSTERDAM. 14 x 9 x 0.5 cm , 50 pieces.

Also: Amterdam, Groenburgwal, with an almost identical cutting.

These puzzles are advertised in a German catalog 1912/13

Collection G.Bekkering

The next two puzzles, from Rita Rijkers' collection are important, because they have all the characteristics of a German Zag-Zaw, and an inscription at the bottom: "Jan Hartelust / 23 Dec 1911", and "Jan Hartelust / 6 Dec 1913",  making it clear that German Zag-Zaw puzzles were produced as early as 1911, in solid poplar (?) wood, in different cutting styles (mostly long-line).

Die Begegnung, after an original by G.Wright, 24 x 13 cm, 75 pieces, Long Line Cutting. Inscription on box "23 Dec 1911"

Collector Rita Rijkers

"The letter (?)"

German Zag-Zaw puzzle in a box without  label (lost), 48 pieces cut  one after another. 9x13 cm, oilette postcard. Inscription on box: "6 Dec. 1913".

Collector Rita Rijkers.