Thrift Treasure: Wentworth Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles
Since we have more inside time due to the ongoing pandemic, it has changed what we look for when out thrifting. Usually we’d only search for interesting games not in our collection. As of late we’ve been doing more jigsaw puzzles to pass the time, so we’ve added those to our shopping list. It is more of a gamble to buy puzzles at thrift stores since there’s no good way to tell if it is complete or not.
To counter this issues, we typically search out puzzles we know to be more expensive and by better publishers. Among our favorites are 1000+ examples by Ravensburger or MasterPieces. Not only is their printing colorful and vibrant, the quality of the chipboard they use is superior to those of their competitors. But there is a whole class of specialty jigsaw puzzles that hearken back to days when jigsaw puzzles were really in their prime – the late 1800’s.
Back then most puzzles were still made out of wood on a jigsaw, hence their name. Companies competed for the consumers’ dollars by offering puzzles more intricate than their competitor. Including custom whimsy pieces and hidden designs took the puzzle-assembly experience to another level. In the early 1990’s, a new British company, Wentworth Jigsaw Puzzle Company Ltd., began offering a higher-end puzzle line that utilized many of these original manufacturing ideas, but made with modern technology.
When we walked into our thrift store and spied a pile of recently-donated Wentworth puzzles, Nicole first passed on them since they were only 250 pieces each. I had recently read about the history of puzzles in a book I found at our library. When I examined the pile, I instantly knew what they were (I still opened one to confirm). All dozen of them went home with us at an amazing price of only $3.88/each. You might be thinking that’s expensive for a thrift puzzle. But these originally retailed for around $60-$75 each and still bring $40 a piece on eBay!
What makes Wentworth puzzles so special? Some of them are oddly-shaped (not rectangle). They all have custom pieces that are unique to the puzzle and capture the theme of the image. They’re so exactly cut from wood that all the pieces fit together like a glove. Just assembling one, no matter the subject, is a pleasure. And I can’t forget to mention how every puzzle comes in a custom drawstring back inside the linen-finished heavy-duty box.
So far we’ve assembled three of them and are taking our time with the rest. These puzzle will never see a thrift store shelf again as they are ones that are meant to be passed down from generation to generation. I encourage you to find at least one for yourself so you can experience what is it like to assemble a true jigsaw puzzle and not one of the mass-market examples we’ve grown up with. You can buy new ones direct from Wentworth on their website or peruse the many out-of-print examples on eBay!
Have you ever had a true wooden jigsaw puzzle?
32 thoughts on “Thrift Treasure: Wentworth Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles”
So cool! I’ve never played an authentic wooden puzzle but would love to!
Hmm, I think we’ve done some wooden puzzles with the kids–they have a set of dinosaur ones. These look awesome though.
I’ve never done a wooden one before, just the regular kinds of puzzles
Yes I have done wooden puzzles but when I was little.
No, not unless you count the tiny ones as a child…..
I have never put together a wooden puzzle but have seen a few LOTR ones that I wanted to try.
When I was a kid, I had a 50 states wooden ‘puzzle’, but I’ve never put an adult wooden puzzle together.
A “true” wooden jigsaw puzzle? I suppose I have not.
I did when I was a kid .
I’ve never done a wooden puzzle. I’ve just never found a good wooden puzzle that interested me. But the ones above look pretty cool
I think I did one of these when I was a kid.
I did some of these as a child
I have never done a true wooden puzzle
Never tried a wood puzzle before, but I bet it feels really nice. I’ve done irregularly shaped puzzles but never with wood.
Only really basic ones, when I was little.
I’ve never had a wooden puzzle.
Yes, I have done a wooden puzzle.
I’ve never assembled a wooden jigsaw puzzle unless the 4 piece toddler ones my nieces and nephews had count.
Same here.. not since I was a kid and there were 4 giant pieces.
I’ve never assembled a true wooden jigsaw puzzle. This is awesome!
I have! You really need to get those pieces in just right
Never done a wooden jigsaw, but now I want one!
No, I’ve never played a wooden puzzle
I’ve never used a wooden jigsaw, but damned if I don’t want one now
I’ve never done this but now I’m intrigued
No, but would love to try it.
I have helped my grandchildren with their kids wooden puzzles but that’s the only wooden puzzles I’ve put together
I’ve never done an adult wooden puzzle, only children’s puzzles that were wood.
Just come across this article – you’re so lucky to have found all those Wentworth puzzles at that price Glad you enjoyed them. I live in the UK not that far from the Wentworth factory – they used to have open days a few years back which we used to go to to get some cheap puzzles. Have been redoing some old ones during lockdown – these are amazing and I wouldn’t go back to doing ‘normal’ puzzles again!!
OMG, Hazel. They allow you to go to the factory?! I want to do that! If (when) we make it to the UK, I may have to put that on my to-do list because I love factory tours of all different types. But hadn’t considered a PUZZLE factory before.