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RAILWAY JIGSAW PUZZLES

A Brief History

A number of Companies made wooden Jigsaw Puzzles, generally featuring pictures of trains, but by far the largest contributor was the Toy maker Chad Valley who produced 45 wood backed and one card backed puzzle for the GWR between 1924 and the start of the Second World War.
   The first puzzle issued was Caerphilly Castle which was produced to be sold at the British Empire Exhibition in May 1924. It was the only Jigsaw sold in this series without GWR on its blue and white box and was priced at 5/-.

 
The puzzle had 150 pieces and was cut to the outline of the loco   Overall 78,000 were sold between 1923 & 1928

  This was a high price and the puzzle did not sell well. It was later reduced to the cost price of 2/6d with the Box changed to a GWR branded version and the Jigsaw simplified having the front and rear not cut to the outline of the loco. Puzzles from now on were all sold at cost as publicity material and over the years proved a very successful marketing tool with around 1,000,000 sold between 1924 and 1939.

  The puzzles were labour intensive to produce as they were all hand cut (about four at a time) and so you are unlikely to find two puzzles of the same subject that are cut the same. One puzzle "The Cathedral" was produced double side with a map of the GWR system on the rear but it proved difficult to cut with paper on both sides and so this was the only one produced of this type.   The jigsaws are listed in order of scarcity and used to be quite difficult to source. However, with the advent of Internet Auctions, it has become fairly easy to obtain all of the puzzles and now incomplete ones are very difficult to sell at any price. Overall the prices have dropped considerably over the past ten years and you should be able to build up a collection by following the Railwayana & Local Auctions plus Ebay.

Lost in Transit is still a difficult puzzle to obtain as it was produced one Christmas and given to GWR staff to encourage them to look after parcels with more care. This was probably not considered the greatest of presents and as the puzzle was card backed and not interlocking it was quite annoying to make. For this reason most were disposed of and only a few survived. These can be difficult to find as the box gives no clues as to the puzzle within. Currently fetching around 300, if complete and with a good condition box.

                     Below is a list of all the Chad Valley Puzzles produced for the GWR listed in order of rarity.

 

                                                                                       
Rarity

Name

Click picture to enlarge
1 Lost In Transit
2 Loco's in the Making
3 Windsor Castle (Curvy Edge)
4

King George V (300 pieces)

5 The Railway Station (Twin)
6 The Model Railway
7 Britains Mightiest
8 The Streamlined Way
9 The Fishguard Army
10 The Freight Train
11 Night Mail
12 London Highways
13 St Julian (Side View)
14 Cornwall Preparing for the Catch
15 Windsor Castle from the Air
16 Swansea Docks
17 Speed
18 Piccadilly Circus
19

Locomotives Old & New

20 The St Julien (3/4) View
21 Oxford
22 Windsor Castle (Knights)
23 Warwick Castle
24 Caerphilly Castle

                 All Fairly Common

Henley Bridge
St Davids Cathedral
The Royal Route to the West
Springtime in Devon
Glorious Devon
The Cheltenham Flyer
A Cornish Fishing Village
The Railway Station (Single)
Mountains of Killarney

          Most Common

The Cathedral (Map of GWR on rear)
Historic Totnes
King George V (150 pieces)
Cornish Riviera Express
Ann Hathaways Cottage
The Vikings at St Ives
The Torbay Express
King Arthur on Dartmoor
Bath
Stratford Upon Avon
The Romans at Caerleon
Brasenose College Oxford
Drake Goes West

As you will have seen from the pictures above many of the puzzles have been framed up and they can make an attractive picture for your walls at home. If you are struggling to find any particular puzzle we do have some spares so please get in touch as we may be able to help.

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