For jigsaw puzzle collectors, cutters, and enthusiasts
 
 
The Twelfth Puzzle Parley
August 1-3, 2014
Salem MA.

This parley was again held in Salem, MA. at the Hawthorne Inn with record attendance of over 100. It success was due in no small measure to Liz Platais, daughter of the late Pagey Elliott who founded these meetings, who graciously volunteered to chair the planning of what has become a large event. Bob Armstrong, Melinda Shebell and Anne Williams, also were part of the planning process. This year also saw an increase in volunteers to manage many of the subtasks of the meeting, including a first ever puzzle fair on Sunday.

Puzzle Parley twelve began, as have a number of the last few parleys, with events on Friday, a full program on Saturday and more events on Sunday. From late morning to early afternoon parleyers, on their way to Salem, could attend an open house at, Melinda Shebell's of Jardin Puzzles Stow, MA. She displayed her collection of antique jigsaw puzzles and also invited cutters or future cutters to visit her workshop and try her Eclipse saw.

Early checkin registration began at the hotel around noontime for those attending other Friday activities.

The second activity on Friday was a special beginner workshop for people who have never cut a jigsaw puzzle. It ran from 3pm to 5pm and was lead by Roz Rea, with assistance from Anne Willams, and other experienced cutters. There were five saws and fifteen participants. Everyone had enough time to cut their puzzle and learn tips from the veterans.

Later that afternoon, people attended a special tour of the First Church of Salem. Organized by puzzle collector and connoisseur, John Cabot, visitors could not only learn something of the history of the church, but also view a stained glass window donated by the Parker family (Pastime Puzzles) that contained game symbolism.

The formal program began with a Friday night Buffet dinner. Bob Armstrong of www.oldpuzzles.com spoke briefly on the history of our Parley meetings and then we adjourned to our Yankee/ White Elephant Swap. About thirty people brought wrapped puzzles to trade or to perhaps exchange with one already opened. The hit of the swap was a 100 piece early Pastime puzzle that was exchanged about five times. (See Yankee/White Elephant Swap for how a Swap works).

Next we had the Pagey Elliott Puzzle Cutters' Exchange. This year 17 cutters brought beautiful, delightful and creative puzzles to exchange with one another.

The evening ended in the library room of the hotel which was set up with many tables and chairs for assembling puzzles. It was the first chance people had to do their puzzle from the Yankee Swap or perhaps one of the exchange puzzles. A number of people also brought favorite puzzles to share with everyone.

Saturday began early with set-up in the large ballroom from 7:30-8:30. Puzzle makers, dealers, and special exhibits were displayed during the entire day for all to see.

We opened the program with welcoming remarks from our chairperson Liz Platais and brief introductions of all attendees. We had about 115 attendees and guests from as far away as Paris France.

Our first talk of the day, "Pastime Puzzle Figurals" was given by collector Paul Burger. Paul has an impressive collection of Pastime Puzzles, made by Parker Brothers in Salem MA. Paul has done an in depth analysis on the figure pieces in Pastime Puzzles and presented his findings to us.

The next talk was also on figure pieces, but this time, it was on how one cutter uses figure pieces in his puzzles. Graham Curtis', of Glenwood Puzzles, talked about "Figuring Out the Figure Pieces". Graham gave cutters all sorts of tips on where to find silhouettes, how to customize them, where to place them in the puzzle, how to organize a library of shapes and much more.

The final talk of the morning was given by historian and author Anne Williams on "Par, the Rolls-Royce of Jigsaw Puzzle", Anne gave a brief overview of puzzle history that eventually lead John Henriques and Frank (Francis) Ware to found Par Puzzles. She detailed the history of the company up to present time where owner John Madden, also present at the parley, still cuts Par Puzzles.

Lunchtime, as usual, had many activities besides the buffet luncheon. At two scrollsaws, cutters demonstrated their craft and some newcomers tried their hand at using the saw. Puzzle supply vendors were there with wood and blade samples and information on quality boxes for puzzles. It was also a chance for people to see all the new and old puzzles on display and vote for their show favorite. Quite a few puzzles changed hands as collectors and enthusiasts found just the right puzzle to add to their collection.

The first afternoon session began with a panel on "How to sell puzzles in the Internet Age" . It was chaired by John Stokes of Custom Puzzle Craft who spoke about creating a web site and the features it needs. Ron Moore of Turtle Teaser Puzzles spoke about selling on Etsy, comparing it to selling from just a custom website. Paula Tardie of Stave Puzzles completed the panel and showed many of the other aspects of marketing that complement the online store.

The second afternoon session was the traditional Cutters' Roundtable. Like the last parley, there were several short talks followed by a general question and answer. This is the first time the session was in the afternoon and it worked well. The first short talk was a hilarious account on "Cutting a Large Puzzle". David Beffa-Negrini of Fool's Gold Puzzles told how he cut a very large four foot maple leaf into 100 squarish pieces. David brought along the large leaf template and mimed all the troubles he went through to successfully cut the leaf into two sections. Melinda Shebell followed this with a short talk on "Methods to Cut Multiway Puzzle Pieces" showed the set of jigs she made in order to cut her 17+ Exchange Puzzles. The last talk was by Jay Hollis of Bogart's Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles . Jay described his methods and experiences with "Printing an Image Directly on Wood". All of the puzzles Jay brought to the show, including his Exchange Puzzles were from images directly printed on the wood.

The remainder of the session was an open discussion where people could pose questions and anyone in the audience could answer.

After a short break, we continued with show and tell session followed by table sales. Our theme this year was "Dozens" because it was our 12th Puzzle Parley.

Our after-dinner speaker was none other than Steve Richardson of Stave Puzzles . (Stave Puzzles is today's premier puzzle company and Steve has been making puzzles for over 40 years. He is the first recipient of the AGPC's Spilsbury Award for lifetime achievement in the jigsaw puzzle field.) Steve gave a humorous talk about the history of his company by telling up his ten biggest mistakes that somehow turned into fortuitous events.

Puzzling continued again in the library until the wee hours of the Sunday morning. A particularly hard Pastime and Arteno puzzle kept the die-hard puzzler up until both were completed successfully.

Sunday morning began with a continental breakfast. Carol Ottenburg started us off with a talk about the "Woodies", a senior puzzle group in Seattle that she leads. Bob Armstrong followed with a session on box repair where we repaired a damaged pastime box realtime while giving us pointers and instructions to repair original boxes of antique puzzles. The last session was given by Lisa Lee of Forget Me Not Puzzles on her techniques restore antique puzzles including replacement pieces that defy discovery in the assembled puzzle. Lisa also conducted a silent auction of replacement piece certificates on Saturday for the benefit of the parley.

We concluded the formal parley with recognition and special thank yous. Our farthest attendee, Sophie Olle-LaPrune of Michele Wilson Puzzles, received puzzle socks and a tiny globe puzzle to help her travel back to Paris, France. Anne Williams received a jigsaw set of post-its for her help throughout the year. A special thank you went to Kelly Taylor of The Keljoy Group who once again made all our hotel arrangements and made the flawless running of the parley look easy. Finally, a special thank you went to our Chairperson, Liz Platais. Liz stepped in on brief notice to coordinate all aspects of the parley and brought new and exciting ideas, like the Puzzle Fair (see below) to our event.

We had two Sunday afternoon activities this year. The first was an Open House at Saul Bobroff's home in Beverly MA. Saul, of Here to There Puzzles , showed part of his large display of mechanical puzzles. His dining room table held a varied assortment of hands-on puzzles. Of course that meant once it was taken apart, it had to be put together again!

The second event that ran concurrently with the first part of the open house, was a Puzzle Fair at the hotel that was open the general public. This was new for our parley and we weren't sure how it would go. It was a rousing success with many tables and displays and a lot of puzzle lovers from the Salem area.


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