Block Puzzles

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ESCAPE FROM FRAMES

[771]from "SW"-16 October 2002:
Hi,
I have a box and on it, it says "Picture cubes of wood" I guess beter known as block puzzles is what one person told me.
The box is from Germany.
In the box there is diffrent pictures on each block to make a diffrent puzzle. Enclosed is a photo of the box.
Block Puzzle Box"Picture Cubes of Wood", box, title and maker not known [Hansel & Gretel?].
Block Puzzle"Picture Cubes of Wood",
If you know anything about this puzzle would you please let me know.

Thank you.

"SW"
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from "MS"-13 April 2003:
I have the same puzzle as you have shown. I got it in Frankfurt, Germany 6 or 8 years ago. I collect these block puzzles. They are more common in Europe and Asia than in America. The Chinese and Japanese have many varieties. Ravenhurst (a German toy company) also has quite a selection. Recently, I have seen these puzzles for Builder Bob, Tommy the Tank, Madeline, and a number of other children's picture books. I have eight pieces of a 9-piece plastic Curious George block picture puzzle that Yoplait sold as a premium in 1999; I am looking for the ninth piece. Most of the American made puzzles of this type are plastic; I have a Winnie the Pooh one that is rectangular rather than square blocks. Most of the European and Asian puzzles are wooden. They are hard to find, but they are out there. Now and then one appears on internet auction sites or at a thrift store, like the Goodwill or Salvation Army. I wish I knew of a site to inquire about others who had block picture puzzles to sell. Let me know if you run across any for sale. Thanks.
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[1229]from "CM"-22 March 2004:
Hi,
I recently purchased an older (I think) puzzle. It is in a box and has four cards with different Victorian scenes on them. Then there are blocks with the scenes on the blocks. Mixed up they are the puzzle. My mom says that it is not old and you can buy that type of puzzle anywhere. How can I tell if it is old or not? It sure looks old. The wood looks old. Reproductions abound though and I just can't tell.
Can you give me some information?
Thank you
"CM"
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from Jim McW --26 March 2004:
I can't tell you much, probably, but I can't tell you anything without at least having a scan or photocopy of the box. The puzzle, blocks, and /or cards would be nice, too. If you can, send pictures, and we will try to post them with your question on our Q&A pages. Some of our regular visitors may know something about them.
Thanks, Jim McW
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from "CM"--29 March 2004:
Thanks for answering my letter. I finally got around to photographing the puzzle [below]. I am hoping someone will know a little bit about it. All the pieces are here. The only problem is that when I bought it the top had been shut using masking tape that is why the picture on the front of the box is scraped off. I don't know why anyone would do that. If you could just tell me if it is old or a reproduction. I have a bet with my mom.
Thanks for your time, "CM"
Block puzzle"Block puzzle", maker, title, and date unknown.
Block puzzle boxbox     blocks"blocks" pictures"pictures", box illustration"box illustration" hinge"hinge" hinge"hinge", another view
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from "An Old Collector" --5 April 2004:
They look pretty genuine to me but I don't know about American repro's, they are very typical of the 1920's - 30's. It was not uncommon to have no name of manufacture; if there was it might well have been scraped off the top.
From the picture it is also very difficult to decide on a probable country of origin, Germany was most likely source ( Bavaria ) but Britain and France also produced blocks. I don't think they are French as the box is not in their style. There should be five pictures, plus one on the box, making six in all, one for each of the six block sides.
Regards,
"An Old Collector"
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from "J.S."--5 April 2004:
The block puzzle pictured is a reproduction, probably made in the 1970s. I've been told that they were made in China and sold primarily in New York City. Notice the pictures and the blocks, they are all equally faded and the fading is very consistant across each page. Notice the edges of the blocks, they are still sharp and have no wear. You might think that this puzzle was carefully protected or long forgotten on a shelf. Then you should see pale images of the blocks in the bottom of the box and the sides of the blocks that have been face down for a century would be faded differently then the sides that were exposed. There is no foxing in the box or on the pieces.
You have an old puzzle, but it is only 25-30 years old!
"J.S."
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from Anne Williams--5 August 2004:
This is one of the most common reproductions found in the U.S.
Shackman, a novelty manufacturer and importer in New York City, sold copies for many years, at least into the late 1970s. Shackman wholesaled its wares to stores all over the U.S.
Page 59 in my 1990 book illustrates one of the six pictures. In my copy of the puzzle, the guide picture are on thick cardboard, rather than the thin paper that is typical of the originals. Also the wood of the box is luaun, which comes from the Philippines and was not used by European manufacturers in the early 20th century.
Anne Williams. puzzles@bates.edu
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[1562]from "GLR"--28 September 2005:
I found a couple of old puzzles in my Dad's attic after he passed away. I have no idea of the age. They could have been mine (I'm 40) or his (he was born in 1933).
Please help me figure out the age. I've done searches for both with nothing that is just like them. I did find a bunch on Jaymar Specialty Co. but not the shaped puzzles like this one....

BATTER-UP-OOPSbox, " BATTER-UP-OOPS ",
BATTER-UP-OOPS" BATTER-UP-OOPS ",
By Jaymar Specialty Co. Bantam Pocket - Shaped for Fun - Walt Disney Character, Shaped Picture Puzzle, Triple Thick Interlocking, Size 5 1/8" X 7"

2. Picture Building Blocks
puzzle blockspuzzle blocks,
puzzle block picspuzzle block pictures, By Chadwick Inc. There are 12 cubes made of plastic and 6 pictures in the box. When assembled the cubes make the six different pictures. There is very few words on the box. It says "Forms 6 different Jigsaw Puzzles of familiar fairy tails." The words "picture building blocks" appear on each side and on two sides it says "E159, Made in Hong Kong"
"GLR"
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from Jim McW--2 October 2005:

A search for 'block' on our SEARCH page yields (at present) three hits:
No. 771, Page 54; No. 1229, Page 78; and No. 976, Page 64.
We were not aware of a JAYMAR shaped puzzle, so we would be very interested in learning more of that puzzle.
Thanks,
Jim McW
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[1784]from "DH"--7 February 2007:
I was wondering about the history of the 3 d puzzles. I am teaching an art class of 7th graders how to use nine 2" wooden blocks to create a puzzle. They must design a pictures for each of the six sides. I know that these type of puzzles were once popular but don't know where to look for info. I need background information to share with the class.
Thanks for your help
"DH"
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from Jim McW--9 February 2007:
For some previous discussions of the history of block puzzles, see No. 771, Page 54, and No. 1229, Page 78. There are some others which you can find with our search page. (Just type in " block " or " blocks ". We include a few excerpts from the discussions, below.

We may add that three-dimensional (or 3-D) puzzles takes in a bit wider variety of puzzles, including the so-called " contour " jigsaw puzzles, which have pieces of different thicknesses, to give a kind of " bas relief " effect; the " sculpture " variety, which seem most usually to consist of slices of a sculpture which can be arranged on a spindle or spindles to reconstruct the sculpture; and the many different kinds of block and mechanical puzzles. Except for the " contour " jigsaw puzzles, most of these are on the fringe of the field of jigsaw puzzles, which is the focus of this website. However, there are some links on our LINKS page which will take you to other websites which can tell you more about these other kinds of puzzles. I think many people would consider block puzzles and contour puzzles to be relevant to jigsaw puzzles, as do we.
Thanks, Jim McW
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from "MS"-13 April 2003:
....I got [a block puzzle] in Frankfurt, Germany 6 or 8 years ago. I collect these block puzzles. They are more common in Europe and Asia than in America. The Chinese and Japanese have many varieties. Ravenhurst (a German toy company) also has quite a selection. Recently, I have seen these puzzles for Builder Bob, Tommy the Tank, Madeline, and a number of other children's picture books. I have eight pieces of a 9-piece plastic Curious George block picture puzzle that Yoplait sold as a premium in 1999; I am looking for the ninth piece. Most of the American made puzzles of this type are plastic; I have a Winnie the Pooh one that is rectangular rather than square blocks. Most of the European and Asian puzzles are wooden. They are hard to find, but they are out there. Now and then one appears on internet auction sites or at a thrift store, like the Goodwill or Salvation Army. I wish I knew of a site to inquire about others who had block picture puzzles to sell. Let me know if you run across any for sale. Thanks.
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from Keith--23 April 2003:
Hi Jim,
I was surprised that these seem to be less well known on your side of the Atlantic. Picture Blocks go well back into the eighteen hundreds, they were certainly quite common by the 1850's being halfway between bricks and jigsaw puzzles, they were lithographed and hand-coloured. In the same way as jigsaw puzzles , maps were often used but perhaps more common were the alphabet blocks or bricks and often combinations of any of these elements. Unlike the jigsaw puzzle though they could of course just be piled up in any old order to make anything the child fancied. Like many of the early toys German manufacturers were major players and exported all over the world.
Keith
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from Keith--10 February 2007:
For further, in-depth study, see: " Play Orbit ", published by Studio International, from a showing at Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales, Flint, 4-9 August 1969, edited by Jasia Reichardt.
" Toy With the Idea ", published by Norfolk Museums Services, 1980.
" Yesterdays Children ", by Sally Kevill-Davis, including mention of a set of Butter's " Tangible Arithmetic and Geometry for Children ", published in 1852, which consisted of 144 oak cubes with instructions on how to use the cubes for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as fractions, proportions and geometry. The actual set is in the Pinto Collection at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Keith
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[1860]from "MT"-- 13 August 2007:
HI!
I have a wooden block puzzle that can make several puzzles by moving the blocks around. There is a man with many different funny faces. The puzzle has a copyright of 1948.
Could you give me more information about this puzzle? I have included 2 different faces.
Thanks!
"MT"
Changeable Charlie? Changeable Charlie?
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from Jim McW--14 August 2007:
You can read about a similar puzzle (very possible the same one) in Anne Williams' book, Jigsaw Puzzles: An Illustrated History and Price Guide. On page 162, she provides an illustration of "Changeable Charlie", which she describes as published by Gaston Manufacturing Co., Copyright 1948. These few blocks can be rearranged to form over 4 million different "faces".
Thanks, Jim McW
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Chris McCann's book,Master Pieces: the Art History of Jigsaw Puzzles.

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