Postcard Puzzles

  Linda Hannas (1981) mentions the Postcard Puzzles: “Raphael Tuck is best-known now for greeting cards, but at that time the Company specialized in postcards, of which it held 60,000 different designs. Since 1909 its two most profitable operations were combined in ‘Puzzle Postcards’. Made from light cardboard and enclosed in a sealed folder with perforated edges, they could be addressed and sent anywhere in the world; all the recipient had to do was tear along the perforations to remove the made-up jigsaw. The puzzles’ success was immense, and Tuck took out world patents to protect them. Soon he decided to sell them in packets of six, still mailable, but primarily for use as ‘Picture Puzzle Postcards for Progressive Puzzle Parties’. Printed score sheets were included in the pack and each player was supposed to record the time taken to complete one puzzle before progressing to the next. Tuck suggested that they could be made more difficult by mixing the pieces of two – or of all six – puzzles before the party began.”

The Puzzle Postcard packages contained a normal postcard, to be seen by a “window” in the folder and postcard, die cut into 29 pieces but with it’s pieces still in place.  

In GEYER'S STATIONER 47:1162, February 11,1909, page 13, a description of these puzzles was found by Ann Williams and in the issue 47:1168, March 25, 1909, page 29 the add below. 

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In the Caxton Magazine & The British Stationer, June 30. 1909 (thanks to Anne Williams) we read on page 518: "Tuck's Picture Puzzle Postcards. The fact that fifty diffeent sets of these interessting postcards are already enjoying an increasing sale in the United Kingdom goes to show the instant popularity they have met with, though they have been on the market only about a month." This information seems to contradict with the info from Geyers'Stationary of February 1909 (above). A little further in the June 30th article is mentioned that: "Messrs. Tuck  & Sons' New York house, who brought them out on the first of January, is still unable to cope with the enormous demand which has set in, and the same is predicted with this market, where, as is well known, the more expensive puzzles, selling up to 2 pound and 2 shilling each, are all the rage". So now it's clear that it was Tuck's  New York branch that first came with the postcard puzzles. This fits with the puzzle craze starting in the USA as well. In June 1909 the postcard puzzles have been introduced into the United Kingdom.

A 1909 list of Zag-Zaw puzzles has on page 8 the information as seen below:

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The next sheet is probably a little later (1910-12), since it mentions "upwards of 70 different Sets of Six", where the 1909 catalog mentions 60 sets.

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In case the text above, left and right of the puzzlers is hard to read I give it here:

THESE PICTURE PUZZLE POST-CARDS, inexpensive as they are, afford a most fascinating, instructive Pastime on the identical lines of our more ambitious "ZAG-ZAW" Picture Play Puzzles. Real enjoyment is derived from the fascinating task of joining together the small irregular pieces which form the picture. A single PICTURE PUZZLE POSTCARD will amuse and interest the recipient, while a dozen different cards will entertain as many persons who interchange and construct the various design between them.

"Sets are utilized for progressive puzzle parties, etc."- The Times

"Such a neat and inexpensive Novelty deserves to be widely known and will meet with the approval of those in search of fresh ideas". -Athenaeum

POSTCARD ZAG-ZAW. - "Messrs. Raphael Tuck & Sons have introduced an ingenious Postcard adaptation of that fascinating craze, 'Zag-Zaw'. Each of the new cards, which are styled Picture Puzzle Postcards, containing a dissected picture in stout card-board, together with a guide-card, and, for what Mr. Montague Tigg would have called 'the ridiculously small sum' of 3d., affords the purchaser the same pleasant time as the much more expensive 'Zag-Zaw' sets. Their large variety lends itself peculiarly to the development of the game on similar lines to that of 'Progressive Whist', scoring sheets for the purpose being included in each set. The new card is finished in execution as it is ingenious in idea, the publishers have great difficulty in coping with the increasing demand for the new cards."- Sunday Times

This Tuck postcard from about 1910 shows a woman calling her husband:

"Hello there! Is that you Dave?" " Yes Love, what is it ...." "Don't forget to bring me home a set of Tuck's Picture Puzzle Postcards, we have some friends coming this evening". "Why, what's the matter with two sets and a Zag-Zaw as well duckie?" "Better still, of course, you goose!" 

Wonderfull postcard to demonstrate the way Tuck  cutivated their own craze. It advertises the Picture Puzzle Postcards at the reverse. It also demonstrates the social circle the puzzle craze affected.

The picture above shows the reverse of an English puzzle+postcard package, some diecut card pieces and an insert, advertising a new Great Prize Competition in Tuck postcards. The 26 series advertised on this package are: 1. Rural England, 2. Bonnie Scotland, 3. The Emerald Isle,  4. Wit and Humour, 5. London, 6 Dickens Characters', 7. In Distand Lands, 8. Te British Aarmy from 1377 - 1818, 9. Coaching Scenes, 10. The Pitoresque Thames,  11. Hunting Incidents, 12. Humour from 'Punch', 13. Gardens of England, 14. The English Lakes, 15. British Battles, 16. Animal Life, 17. Quaaint Folks, 18. Pitoresque Counties, 19. Historic Pageants, 20. Air Ships & Lighthouses, 21. Domestic Animals, 22. Happy Childhood, 23. Seascapes, 24. Railway Trains, 25. Liners & Battlesips, 26. The Holy Land.

A German 1912/13 catalog advertises the German card game puzzles

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This page also advertises the city view postcard  puzzles, see German Zag-Zaw's

A 1913/14 German catalog advertises basically the same puzzles but leaves the rules away and replaces them with the recommandation of Prof. Dr. J. Janitsch, art professor and director of the Breslau Museum of art, appraising the high quality printing. 

 The Paris branch sold  Postcard Puzzles, in at least 20 different series of six cards, as mentioned at the card box; that advertised their Zag-Zaw puzzles as well. These French puzzles were issued by: Rapael Tuck & Fils, Ltd. Editeurs de LL. MM. le Roi et la Reine d'Angleterre, Paris, Londres, Berlin, New York, Montreal

The 20 advertised series are: 1. Vues de Paris (see box below), 2. Vues des environs de Paris, 3. Vues de France, 4. Vues de Londres, 5. La Tamise, 6. L'Ecosse pittoreque, 7. La Vie en Irlande, 8. Aux Pays lointains, 9. Palestine, 10. Incidents de Chasse, 11. Combats historique, 12. Aéroplanes, 13. Express, 14. Mail Coachs, 15. Navires, 16. Animaux domestiques, 17. Marines, 18. Sujets humoristiques, 19. Sujets enfantins, 20. Animaux humoristiques.

Top left: Front side of the French box 22.5 x 16.4 x 2.2 cm (picture is in English) The back side of the box is equal to the backside of the puzzle cover

Top right: front of the puzzle+postcard package

Left: Backside of the puzzle+postcard package, advertising 20 different series of six puzzles


In the collection of Bob Begeron is a copy of  Tuck's box of jig-saw puzzles

4 out of 6 postcard puzzles 4'x 5', 35 pieces each. From the layout of the box (Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd., printed in England) I conclude this set to be produced after WW II. See also the coronation souvenir puzzles.