The Jigsaw Puzzle: Piecing Together a History

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9780425201824: The Jigsaw Puzzle: Piecing Together a History

Renowned puzzle expert Anne D. Williams offers the big picture on the enduringly popular and deeply satisfying hobby that has enthralled puzzlers worldwide for centuries. From its origins in the mid-1700s to its many modern incarnations, The Jigsaw Puzzle explores the cultural impact this past-time has had on society, its role as an educational tool, and its popularity with some famous puzzlers-including Queen Elizabeth II and Stephen King.

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About the Author:

Anne D. Williams is the leading American authority on jigsaw puzzles, and is the author of Jigsaw Puzzles: An Illustrated History and Price Guide. Her personal jigsaw puzzle collection, estimated at more than 8,000 and accumulated over 25 years, is one of the largest and most diverse in the world. When not assembling the history of jigsaws, Anne tries to make sense of economic puzzles for her students at Bates College.

From Publishers Weekly:

Jigsaw puzzle collector and historian Williams covers every aspect of the game’s development in this comprehensive history. "The jigsaw puzzle is still going strong as it approaches the 250th anniversary of its birth," the author writes. She then goes on to explain how jigsaws were advocated by the philosopher John Locke as an educational toy, used by Ellis Island physicians to ascertain immigrants’ mental capacity and embraced by Americans who took them out of lending libraries to keep their minds off the 1930’s economic depression. A particularly interesting time is the 1870s. Then, Williams writes, "two movements came together... women’s handicrafts and fret-work." Women began making puzzles with small treadle-powered saws and selling them for profit and for charity; in this way, puzzles became an early catalyst for women’s emancipation from the home. Other segments of the book detail puzzle creators and collectors and instruct readers on how to make their own puzzles. Williams’s writing, while never pedestrian, is not especially distinctive, and the scope of the book doesn’t allow some of the more interesting characters to receive the fuller treatment their lives merit. For puzzle fans and friends, of which Williams convincingly insists there are still millions, this book will be a delightful past-time when an actual puzzle isn’t available. Photos.
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Anne D. Williams
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Anne D. Williams
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Anne D. Williams, Will Shortz (Foreword)
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