Jul 292014

Table display from 2012 ParleyPuzzles to the right, puzzles to the left. It’s a puzzling sight. This Friday through Sunday, Aug. 1-3, the Hawthorne Hotel will be THE meeting place for the 12th annual Puzzle Parley.

What is a Puzzle Parley? Since 1994, the Puzzle Parley has brought together people passionate about jigsaw puzzles. Anyone interested in making, collecting, assembling, displaying, discussing, or buying and selling jigsaw puzzles, whether young or old, new or veteran, is invited to attend and participate. Registration is required, check out their website for full details.

These are the firm, wood-cut puzzles rather than the die-cut cardboard type.

Pasttime Puzzle by Parker BrothersAccording to the National Museum of Play, around 1760, English mapmaker John Spilsbury pasted one of his maps to a board, cut around the borders, and created the first jigsaw puzzle. The first American puzzles appeared around 1850 and in 1908 Parker Brothers introduced its Pastime puzzles, featuring pieces cut as animals, letters, and geometric shapes.

At the 12th Parley, there will be a special workshop for beginner puzzle cutters, as well as plans for a tour of the First Church of Salem, with special attention to the Parker family stained glass window and its game symbolism. Plus, a panel “How to sell puzzles in the Internet Age, ” a session on restoration, and a session on puzzle box repair.

Why hold this popular event at the Hawthorne? Bob Armstrong, one of the founders of the Parley explained “We’ve had several locations over the years. But we liked the ambiance of the Hawthorne Hotel. It is not a modern ultra sterile building. It has an old-fashioned decor that goes well with vintage puzzles.”

New this year, though, is a Sunday Puzzle Fair. Armstrong explains “Traditionally our meetings concluded with table sales. But we added Sunday 1-3 pm segment to the Parley, free of charge and open to the general public,” to open up the viewing potential.

      • See both new and vintage wooden jigsaw puzzles.

      • Peruse the history of jigsaw puzzle cutting.

      • Sit down, relax and try your hand at assembling different types of wooden jigsaw puzzles.

      • Chat with other jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts.

Several puzzle cutters and sellers from all over the country who are attending the Parley will be displaying their works. There will be puzzles for sale and exhibits that show the history and diversity of high-end wooden jigsaw puzzles.

Sounds like a typical, change of pace Salem Ma event.