A new PBS series "History Detectives" commenced airing July 14, 2003 as the summer replacement for "Antiques Roadshow". Ten one-hour programs were produced with each hour divided into 3 segments. Each segment focuses on an interesting artifact/antique/collectible with the owner identifying what he/she wants to know about it, then follows the trail of research and consultation with experts to find answers to the owner's questions, and finally "reveals" the history and answers to the owner as a surprise. "History Detectives" is a co-production of Oregon Public Broadcasting and Lion Television.
Lion TV's researchers discovered Bob Armstrong's web site and chose the Mary E. Underwood 1910s puzzle, "Best of the Season" as the basis for a 20 minute segment shown on the third program in the series, July 16, 2003 for most PBS affiliates. If you missed it, check your local program guide for the date of repeats.
A film crew of seven spent most of the week of January 7, 2003 in New England shooting in several locations, including two long sessions at Bob's house and a session up at Anne Williams' house. Anne served as one of the experts Lion TV consulted to develop background on the puzzle's maker. The puzzle is unusual because of its spectacular artwork depicting two teams of women playing an organized game of rugby and/or football before stands filled with spectators in 1894. Fact or fancy, as well as more about the maker, were the questions posed by Bob to the presenters. The segment also shows an interview with Bob in which he explains his great passion for jigsaw puzzles and their restoration, as well as Bob cutting and inserting an actual replacement piece into a puzzle in his basement.
We think you will find this segment, as well as the series, most interesting and suggest you check your local TV listing for future airings. Hopefully, the series will "catch on" with the viewing audience and develop into a year round show on PBS TV. Our homes are brimming with interesting items with "puzzling" histories which only a show like this, focusing on historical research, can develop and present in an entertaining and educational fashion.