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I have always had `a bit of a thing` about jigsaw puzzles. A few years ago I used to scour the charity shops because I was able to find many vintage jigsaw puzzles that were such fun to do. If at the end of the day there was a piece missing then it didn't really matter the puzzle had still given me many hours of pleasure. But vintage jigsaw puzzles are becoming hard to find unless you are willing to pay a small fortune. I don't have a puzzle mat or a porta puzzle board I am afraid I make do with a large sheet of hardboard.
Most of us love to have a nosey on E bay and this is where I came across the Gibson's memories of the 1950s jigsaw puzzle. When I took another look at the box I knew that I had to buy it! Although the picture on the puzzle is made up entirely of chocolate bars and sweets that were sold during that era it really brought back some good memories. The jigsaw puzzle cost me just under £10 and there was just over £2 post and packaging to pay.
I have owned plenty of jigsaw puzzles but this was my first Gibson jigsaw. The large box is made of thick cardboard and it certainly feels as though it will stand the test of time. The picture of all the 1950s chocolate bars is nothing short of fabulous. There are pictures of many chocolate bars that I remember well and some that even I cannot recall. But be assured these chocolate bars in the picture were produced when chocolate bars were `real` man sized chocolate bars. I was ecstatic to see a Lucky bag lurking in the background and a 6 penny bar of Caramac. The super Frys five centre bar, a box of Maltesers, Picnic, Munchie, Smarties in a box and a box of Rowntrees fruit gums to name but a few.
I was keen to start assembling the jigsaw puzzle. I guessed that it would be reasonably easy to piece together because all you need to do is to follow the pictures of the sweet wrappers. The jigsaw pieces are cut well and they are strong. The jigsaw is cut from firm card and it will withstand being wriggled about to get it into position. The pieces interlock well. The colours are bright and cheerful and the bars of chocolate and packets of sweets are fairly easy to pick out. Although there are 1000 pieces the puzzle didn't take me too long to complete. Some puzzles that have a lot of nondescript scenery in the background can take weeks to finish but this puzzle was done in a matter of a few sessions. When it was assembled it measured somewhere in the region of 27inches by 20inches which is plenty large enough.
My husband usually looks at me with something akin to pity when he sees me salivating over a jigsaw puzzle. But this time he even joined in, he picked up the odd piece here and slotted it into place. In fact he was quite enthusiastic about the theme of the jigsaw. I would say that the finished jigsaw is a bit of a conversation piece. The grandchildren looked at it and couldn't recognise many of the sweets so it was fun explaining what they were.
But all good things come to an end and after a while the jigsaw had to be broken up and stored back in the box. At one point I even though of making it into a picture! It would have looked good hung on the loo wall. But that would have meant that I couldn't have another go at piecing it together.
Gibsons are a family company that have been on the go since 1919. the company stocks board games, traditional games and jigsaws. I have noticed that Gibson's also make Sweet Memories of the 40s, 60s and 70s puzzles. If you have a jigsaw fan in the family then one of these may make an ideal present for them.
My Dad has been quite poorly over the last few months and has been pretty much confined to the house. He does enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles so I have bought him a few different ones to keep him busy. He is not fond of the "country cottage with loads of sky" type puzzles so it has been a bit of a challenge finding things that appeal to him.
I spotted the Gibson's Sweet Memories range in a local toyshop and I knew instantly that this would be a hit with my father. I believe the puzzle does come in a 1940s variation but the earliest one the shop had in stock was 1950s and since my dad would have been 9 in 1950 I was sure that he would have fond memories of some of the depicted items.
The puzzle is presented in a sturdy blue box with a lovely large, clear picture on the front and a lot of interesting information on the reverse. I have bought some cheaper puzzles recently and the boxes have been flimsy and get easily damaged. Since my dad and I swap our puzzles between ourselves and friends we do like a good quality box as it saves pieces getting lost from split bases or poor fitting lids.
As I suspected this puzzle was a great hit with my father who passed it on to me once he had completed it.
As a complete chocoholic I knew that I would enjoy completing a jigsaw puzzle that was entirely devoted to sweets and chocolates even if they were from before my time!
The picture depicts confectionary that was available throughout the 1950s. Sweet rationing ended in 1953 so a lot of the products depicted were new at that time. What fascinated me was how many of the products are still going strong now and also some that have disappeared now but which I remember from my childhood in the 1970s. There are plenty of Cadburys products including Roses and Dairy Milk as well as other current favourites such as Rowntrees Fruit Gums, Polos and Bassett's Jelly babies. Some products I had never heard of such as those by the Caley Company, I ended up wanting to know more and found out that this company was bought by Mackintosh who now make popular products such as Quality Street. The information for the packaging used in this series of puzzles comes from the Robert Opie Collection which is now at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in London. I visited this collection many years ago when it was held at the Docks in Gloucester and I found it fascinating which is probably why this puzzle appealed to me so much.
I have used Gibson's puzzles before and I return to them frequently due to the quality which makes assembling the puzzle a pleasure. Each piece is about 1.5/2cm in size with a nice clean cut and no ripped pictures. Each piece is of compressed card of about 3mm thick. The pieces are very robust and they do not show any signs of peeling or layering. It is almost impossible to bend the pieces (I did try for research purposes and I couldn't bend one) so pieces are very unlikely to get accidentally damaged. My cats find me doing puzzles fascinating and they have been known to run off with a piece and they have been retrieved with no obvious signs of damage!
The pieces also lock together really well when composing the puzzle. With some cheap puzzles it is almost possible to push any pieces together, even if they aren't supposed to fit, but this is not possible with this Gibson's puzzle. This also means that it is very difficult to put an incorrect piece in by mistake which I find helpful. Once the puzzle is complete it interlocks so well you can lift large sections of the puzzle up without it falling apart.
Actually completing the puzzle was a pleasure. The colours are not garishly bright but the puzzle is still colourful with lots of interesting details to look for. No matter what technique you prefer for completing puzzles you are likely to find this one a pleasure. Whether you prefer completing colours, letters or sections at one time you should enjoy this as there is so much going on in the illustration.
This is a 1000 piece puzzle and I completed it in a couple of hours whilst my husband watched the rugby. I don't often complete a puzzle from start to finish in one sitting but I enjoyed this one so much I didn't want to put it away until I had finished it. Once complete the puzzle is about 19" x 27" which is quite large but would fit on most standard size puzzle boards.
I would definitely recommend this puzzle to anyone who likes a puzzle that is a little bit different. The whole illustration is a pleasure to complete (rather than half being boring sky or field) and although it is not a particularly difficult puzzle there are certainly a few things that can catch you out. Gibson's puzzles are excellent quality and although this cost me £15 I think it was money well spent. It has certainly made me keen to complete the other puzzles in the series and I have a friend who has the 1970s version (a fellow Dooyooer so watch out for her review!) and I am looking forward to swapping with her as I know she has enjoyed that one too.