Is it Worth Buying Vintage Jigsaw Puzzles?



I was given a vintage jigsaw puzzle as a gift and it got me to thinking about the whole question of buying old, second-hand and vintage jigsaw puzzles.

Whether it is really worth you buying vintage jigsaw puzzles largely depends on the why - why you are buying them and for what purpose. Is it really worth it?

Vintage jigsaw puzzles are easy to come by in thrift stores, second-hand shops, auctions, eBay and many other venues and places online and otherwise.

Is it Worth Buying Vintage Jigsaw Puzzles?


Is it Worth Buying Vintage Jigsaw Puzzles? Old second hand thrift store auction antique collection collecting

After being given a vintage Philmar jigsaw puzzle as a gift, it got me considering whether or not it was really worth buying vintage jigsaw puzzles.

A lot, of course, depends on why you want to buy vintage jigsaw puzzles in the first place. Is it because you want to collect older jigsaw puzzles? I do collect some vintage designs such as the Waddingtons limited edition Christmas puzzles because I love the older style artwork and also it's about wanting to collect a complete set.


You may also wish to buy vintage jigsaw puzzles as some kind of a financial investment hoping that they go up in value. You may wish to sell them on with the hope that you make a profit. Or perhaps it is because you want to put them together and enjoy the process of making a jigsaw that not many other people will currently be working on.

What Are Vintage Jigsaw Puzzles?


The word vintage gets used a lot for anything that's not current. It's very often misused on online auction sites. Just because a seller uses the word "vintage" does not mean that it really is vintage. You need to do your own research.

Generally any jigsaw puzzle that is more than 20 years old would be considered vintage although some people feel that it should be a lot older than this.

The word antique applies to items that are over 100 years of age, and there are some jigsaws of this age since the proper interlocking style of jigsaw that we know and love was introduced around 1900.

400 piece Philmar Jigsaw Puzzles circular Laurel 1 of a 4 series set vintage design puzzle

My circular Philmar jigsaw, for example, is vintage because this jigsaw manufacturer stopped trading around 1980. So it is at least 40 years old.

Mine was still sealed in a type of shrink wrap when I received it, so I was hoping that all the pieces were there and they were. If I had wanted to sell it on, I should have left it unopened as opening sealed puzzles could negatively affect any monetary value.

What Makes a Jigsaw Puzzle Valuable and Collectible?


Just because a jigsaw puzzle is old doesn't make it rare, valuable or collectible. Just because a jigsaw puzzle states it is a limited edition by the manufacturer also doesn't mean it is in fact rare, valuable or collectible. There are many reasons that may make a puzzle valuable including but not restricted to:

  • The age of the puzzle
  • The condition and whether all pieces are present and in good condition
  • How rare it actually is to find
  • How much interest there is in the design, the manufacturer
  • The quality of the craftsmanship as with wooden jigsaws
  • Whether is is complete with all original packaging and accessories such as posters


So there are an awful lot of factors that may make a puzzle worth something in terms of money or not. Bear in mind that even a very old vintage puzzle may not actually be worth as much as you might hope.

Learning about the financial worth and valuation of a jigsaw puzzle is a very specialist subject and one you would need to research well over a period of time.

Buying Vintage Jigsaw Puzzles to Sell On


If you want to buy vintage jigsaw puzzles in order to sell on and make some kind of financial investment, note that serious collectors will not usually buy any that have missing pieces. Collectors look for complete puzzles in a good (undamaged) condition.

To buy older jigsaws for the purpose of selling and making money is a risk, as with buying and selling any collectibles.

Be wary of buying overpriced vintage sets on auction sites, I've seen many ridiculous prices on online venues with sellers putting inflated prices on items and hoping vulnerable buyers will take the bait.

Also be aware that you may not be able to sell a puzzle for more than you bought it for, in other words you may make a loss.

If you want to know more about old jigsaw puzzles with a view to buying and selling, a site such as https://www.oldpuzzles.com has lots of information and links to further resources.

There are many more sites to view if you search online. I don't intend to get into buying and selling old jigsaw puzzles as I enjoy them as a creative hobby and not a financial one.

I really recommend doing a lot of your own research before considering whether to buy and sell in this market.

Buying Vintage Jigsaw Puzzles for Your Personal Collection


You may wish to buy old, vintage or antique jigsaw puzzles, not for any possible financial gain or investment but for other reasons. Perhaps you love the idea of collecting jigsaw designs that are different to what is readily available, you may want something a bit more unique than everyone else.

Perhaps you simply want to buy old designs because you love the artwork and the fact that it is old is incidental. You may have picked up a bargain buy from a thrift store, junk shop, charity shop, auction, car boot sale or some other venue.

For me, it's all about the picture and design. I don't really mind whether I have a vintage puzzle or a new one. I like to know all pieces are likely to be there so normally pick sealed jigsaws (even if they are old ones) and I want ones with minimal damage too.

Sometimes I don't choose designs, other people will pick them for me. I wouldn't necessarily have picked the one in the photo but that was a gift and it provided a different challenge to my normal type of puzzle.

The Quality of Vintage Jigsaw Puzzles


Vintage cardboard puzzle piece compared with a modern day jigsaw piece puzzles jigsaws old

Be aware that vintage jigsaw puzzles may be of a different quality for you to put together and assemble than a modern one.

In the photo above, the top piece is a vintage jigsaw puzzle piece and the bottom is a regular modern piece. Note how much thinner the cardboard vintage piece is. It is incredibly thin to work with and makes assembling puzzles somewhat harder as pieces are harder to get hold of and they can warp more easily which means that the design may not lay flat.

Vintage cardboard jigsaws can sometimes have an inferior quality. They may be thinner which means picking up and placing can be harder, they may tear more easily due to age, they may have a horribly glossy finish which makes doing them under artificial lighting a bit of a nightmare when you get glare from the gloss.


Vintage wooden jigsaws are often better in terms of quality, however they tend to cost more. And that can be an issue if you have an addiction to buying jigsaw puzzles.

It is unfair to compare the quality of a vintage jigsaw puzzle with that of a much newer one.

With vintage puzzles, you will often find some peeling where parts of the design (especially the little tabs) are coming away and lifting up from the thick cardboard base.

Peeling can often happen on the reverse side which is often more than on the front of the jigsaw. This is because the reverse pieces tend to be moved around more on a board or table and therefore get more damage through friction.

There may be more wear and tear on the edge pieces especially with scuff marks and damage because the edge pieces always take the bulk of any knocks or scrapes. Plus they tend to be out of the box for longer since people often do the edge pieces first.

If you want to buy a vintage jigsaw, for example on an auction site, it's really good if you can view a recent photo of the jigsaw as it is completed and look closely at it. Some sellers will show a recently completed photo.

Many sellers are honest about the condition and you can ask questions before you bid or buy to ascertain the quality and whether it is all complete.

Do You Think it is Worth Buying Vintage?


Because I have no interest in any potential investment and am only interested in buying jigsaws that I wish to make, I would only go out of my way to buy older and vintage jigsaw puzzles based on the design and the picture.

I do love collecting certain vintage jigsaws such as the earlier Waddingtons limited edition Christmas puzzles. That's because I really love the artwork style of the earlier years, the fun search and find games they have and I also enjoy collecting the tokens that you get for your Christmas tree.

Do you think buying vintage jigsaws is a good idea? Do you currently collect them and why do you? Let me know your thoughts on this topic in the comments.


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Comments

  1. My old puzzles were found recently from when I was a child in the 60s. Some are older than that depicting cartoons & one of young people listening to records. My sister & I enjoyed them So much that they are not in their original boxes & pieces are missing. Some are broken off. I’m enjoying redoing them & remembering. I thought perhaps piece-hunting may be of someone’s interest; hence, I came upon your site.
    Thanks for the info.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great bit of nostalgia for you from your childhood. What a really lovely find even with the missing pieces. Some people like to make replacement pieces for jigsaws from cardboard. I haven't tried it but have seen it mentioned on Facebook. Thanks for stopping by and happy puzzling!

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Articles are accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in medical, business, financial, legal, or technical matters. All images on this site are my own or are product and public domain photos that are used with permission.