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Thursday, 26 August 2010

Three favourites

I have many favourites among my collection of steam railway jigsaw puzzles and here are three photographs showing less expensive examples.

The first pic features a 400-piece Mercury (Tower Press) puzzle from the 1950's/60's titled Getting Up Steam. This is a real 'in your face' puzzle of vibrant colours. It features a 'Britannia' class 4-6-2 locomotive No.70020, Mercury, heading passenger stock through a station, on a central line. On the left, on the adjacent line, a 'County' class 4-6-0 No. 1015, County of Gloucester, stands at a platform-based water tower. A railwayman stands between the two locomotives. Overhead, a 'Standard' tank engine pulls a mixed freight train over a bridge, towards a signal gantry. Boxes and milk churns add to the busy station ambience as a porter pushes a luggage trolley on the opposite platform. The artwork is not signed unfortunately, but the strong illustrative style, is superb and ideal for jigsaw puzzles.

Sir Nigel Gresley's 'A4' class locomotives were very popular with both artists and jigsaw puzzle manufacturers. C.J. Ashford's illustration of 'The Talisman' express (introduced by the LNER in 1956) was used by Tru-Cut for a 260-piece jigsaw in the Modern Travel series. Titled The Scottish Express the locomotive No.60024, Kingfisher, is pictured sporting the early BR (1948-56) lion and wheel motif on its tender. The train is composed of carmine and cream passenger stock and is pictured exiting Kings Cross station, destined for Edinburgh Waverley.

My final picture shows a puzzle from an excellent Chris Nevard photograph that exemplifies the harmonious interaction of railway and landscape. The untitled puzzle from Fame Puzzles of Holland features a class 'U' Maunsell 2-6-0, No.1618, complete with white Southern Railway (SR) route discs. The loco is hauling SR and Pullman stock through a beautiful glade of blubells on a preserved railway. The locomotive is preserved by The Maunsell Locomotive Society.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Circular Puzzles

Circular puzzles always attract more attention than those of a more conventional shape, whether they are straight reproductions of paintings or montages of several paintings. Unfortunately, in my thematic jigsaw collection depicting steam railways, I have very few examples of a circular shape.

Here are two, however, and the first one shown is a favourite in my collection - a Waddington's 500-piece jigsaw from the 1950's. The montage style puzzle comprises five different express trains, all displaying famous headboards. They are pictured in separated, equal segments within a circle; they are 'Flying Scotsman', 'Golden Arrow', 'Royal Scot', 'Yorkshire Pullman' and 'Cornish Riviera Express'. Its shape places it in a minority class immediately and always invites attention, accompanied by head and neck contortions when viewed. The artist is unknown to me.

A Malcolm Root original painting was used as the source for the second circular jigsaw - a 500-piece straight reproduction example from King International. The puzzle depicts a bridge carrying a steam train over a busy high street. The locomotive appears to be one of Sir William Stanier's large 2-6-4T tank types built from 1934. An interesting feature of the puzzle is that the double-decker bus carries a destination that includes 'SHOEBURY COMN'. Before she was broken up for scrap, Shoeburyness shed was the last home for tank engine, 42516, featured in the puzzle. A bus, lorry, car and people all vie for space beneath and around the bridge, in the bustling town centre of Southend-on-Sea.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Three from Victory

The humble origin of Victory, one of the best loved of all jigsaw manufacturers, lies in a Dorset garden shed. Here, Gerald Hayter cut wooden puzzles for around ten years from c1920. He then rented a workshop in Bournemouth before establishing a business in Boscombe, from where Victory wooden jigsaw puzzles became a household name. For an extensive history of the company, including the complicated nomenclature and numbering systems employed, two books published by Brian P. Price in 1999 and 2000, are a must. I have many Victory jigsaws in my collection ranging from children's examples of 12-80 pieces to adult puzzles of 400+ pieces. I have chosen just three for my blog but I think they are a very interesting trio.

The first photograph depicts a puzzle titled The Silver Jubilee Train, a splendid tribute to this famous express but equally notable for its portrait format. The puzzle pictured is the 400-piece example from the Victory range of 40-400 pieces. The express came into service in 1935 and ran until the outbreak of World War II. In the jigsaw the train is hauled by 'A4' class 'Pacific' No.2509 Silver Link.

The second jigsaw photograph shows off George Heiron's skill as an artist. His painting of Stanier class 7P 'Pacific' No. 6231, Duchess of Atholl, has reproduced well for Victory in this 100-piece puzzle. Heiron's skill at portraying copious volumes of exhaust are on show here as the powerful locomotive hauls a long rake of passenger coaches against a backdrop of winter snow.

The third picture shows another Victory classic jigsaw, titled Flying Scotsman (the train, not the locomotive). This flagship express of the LNER with 'A1' class locomotive No. 4476 Royal Lancer (rebuilt as an 'A3' in 1946) at its head is depicted passing over the famous diamond crossing before entering Newcastle station. The puzzle shown is the 400-piece example from the range of 80-400 pieces.