Pre 1900 Jigsaw puzzles

  Linda Hannas (1981) mentions the first jigsaw puzzles Raphael Tuck (and E.P. Dutton) produced: “There was a short-lived fashion at the end of the 19th century for toy-book and puzzle packages, sold in handsome wooden boxes with gaily coloured sliding lids. The puzzles were crudely coloured and coarsely cut, with subjects ranging from fairy tales to bible stories; they were usually double-sided and often showed two scenes on each side. Packed with them were picture books, sometimes comprising only key pictures to the puzzles, but sometimes showing several extra incidents in the hero’s life. The pictures were chromolithographed in the great printing centre of Bavaria.” There seems to be a contradiction in Linda Hannas’ text when she mentions the crude colouring of the puzzles but also refers to the chromolithography at Bavaria, because we know that the German printing was of a high quality by the end of the 19th century.

I have seen such a puzzle set by Tuck in The Hordern-Dalgety collection: “The New Double Dissected Puzzles, Making Four Complete Beautifully Finished Puzzles, with Model Book.” These two double sided puzzles are stack cut in solid softwood and come with the children’s book: “Our Lord’s Miracles” from the Father Tuck Nursery Series. They are in a wooden box with a sliding lid. The book says: “Designed at the Studios in England, Printed in the fine Art Works in Germany. Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd., London, Paris & New York. Publishers to Her Majesty the Queen. These puzzles are to be dated post 1892 (mentioning the Queen, and New York office) and pre 1901 (end of Queen Victoria’s reign).  

A Rip van Winkle puzzle, from the book 'Father Tuck's Nursery Series', also mentioning the Queen, is depicted in Linda Hannas' 1981 book on pages 66 and 67.


  I’ve seen several sets in the way Linda Hannas describes them, produced by Carl Schauer of Berlin. In these sets a 8 page children’s book with nursery rhymes, translated to the Dutch, and beautifully chromolithographed is packed with (mostly three) double-sided puzzles, having the same pictures as the full inner pages of the book, cut in heavy white cardboard. These German sets are in cardboard boxes with a wooden frame. The production of the book and puzzle set obviously required three books.