Seriously? A jigsaw puzzle worth over $1,000!
Par Company Ltd. vintage jigsaw wood pieces of art created and cut by Frank Ware and John Henriques of New York, NY. from the 1930s-1970s, are extremely collectible!
These guys were known as the creators of the crème de la crème jigsaw puzzle. The puzzles they created were meant to cater to the wealthy and were one-of-a-kind.
The Par Co. of New York, NY was started by the two unemployed men-John Henriques and Frank Ware- in the early 1930’s during the Great Depression. Both men loved puzzles, so, they decided to create a puzzle to amuse themselves and family members. Although crafting and cutting of the wood pieces were considered a quite a tedious task, by 1932 Frank and John were promoting, renting, and selling their unique, quality puzzles.
The men used prints of modern art from travel and advertising posters. Frank Ware was the designated artist with John Henriques being the faster and better wood puzzle piece cutter. John H. used special cutting techniques such as dropouts within the puzzle and elevated forms with irregular edges (useful in cutting prints to omit their printed message). Each of their first puzzles contained a swastika (old Hindu letter character) piece-which was known as their signature piece.
A SWASTIKA! Well, you can imagine this symbol wasn’t a good idea to use during the WWII Era, so the PAR signature piece was changed to a seahorse shape. Additionally, several of the PAR puzzles had gold stenciled onto their surfaces.
The Par Co. even made custom puzzles featuring the owner’s own personal monogram along with significant dates and figure puzzle pieces fitting to that owner’s interests.
Each Par puzzle box label included a “Par time” to assemble that particular puzzle (a fair estimate).
Some boxes were called “knows”-meaning the boxes used were plain black boxes with no guide pictures; a puzzle number was listed only for the Par Co. rental Par puzzles. (The Par library operated for over 30 years-ending in the 1960s.) These rentals were eventually sold off and were cheaper than purchasing a new Par puzzle. During the 1930s, the puzzle craze peaked, and in 1933, sales reached an overwhelming 10 million a week. Drugstores and libraries would charge 3-cents to 10-cents per day to rent them out, depending on their size.
In 1972, John Henriques died, and Frank Ware gave the entire business to his apprentice, Arthur Gallager. In the early 1980’s, Gallagher retired, and the business was turned over to John Madden (who worked with Frank Ware and Arthur Gallagher at one time). John and Justin Madden still create Par, one-of-a-kind- custom, hand-cut wooden jigsaw puzzles from his home today.
Did you know? Marilyn Monroe and Buster Keaton both failed to meet the PAR time on their own personal PAR puzzles.
Quote of the day: “It’s always the small pieces that make the big picture complete!”