About the 2021 Sale & Instructions

We are pleased to offer 129 restored puzzles including 30 Pastimes, 2 Pars, 2 VG, 3 Tuck Zag-Zaws, 2 Isabel Ayer puzzles, a huge Rome Coliseum (2725 p.) and covering just about every price range, era, and size.  For reasons discussed below, many are being withdrawn from our collection or website.

We have scanned in all puzzle images and posted them on our website along with descriptions and current bidding on the Sale List page in the Buy Puzzles section under 2021 Puzzle Sale on the main page of: www.oldpuzzles.com, so you can view and study them as you wish. The List Price is the starting price and bids are not accepted below that price; Current Bid Price shows the highest bid received to date (if any) for that puzzle.  Please note we plan to keep up to date as best we can the Sale List with respect to the latest Current Bid for each puzzle, so you can check the bid status for the puzzles you are interested in before submitting bids. There is also a PDF list of sale puzzles for those who like to study hard copy, but the list has abbreviated descriptions and no bidding information or pictures. If you have questions or don’t have a computer or internet access, we welcome your phone calls and emails. And you will have to email us your bids (much preferred as I can recheck bidding after the close).  Note: there is no on-line bidding like Ebay.

2020/21 was a challenging year as I “courted” and eventually married Marilyn, my second wife.  Because of my inability to “let go” of many puzzles I worked so hard restoring, our son, Conrad, has stepped in again and pulled many from our collection.  Hence, there are exhibition-class puzzles on the sale list which are also displayed in the Armstrong Collection.  I could hold a very nice exhibition from just sale puzzles!  Even after they are sold, I will probably leave them displayed for educational purposes, noting they are no longer in our collection.

1. Restoration

As in the past, nearly all puzzles needing work have been restored by me as my principal avocation in retirement.  Restoration includes making replacement pieces, which meet the test: “You have to hunt to find them”.  I also repair all the broken/split knobs, missing/damaged paper and delaminated wood I can spot, so that the puzzle “looks really good” and is in very good or better condition.   On average, this takes longer than replacing missing pieces.  Unrestored puzzles and unfixable problems are noted in the Description section and the puzzle priced accordingly.  If you should not be satisfied, call or email us and we will work it out, including refund. Also, wherever possible, I repair boxes using archival materials and techniques, so they can safely store the puzzles but still show their age.  And if I feel the box acidity might affect the pieces, I have been lining box bottoms with archival tissue paper, particularly the older Pastime boxes. 

2. Bidding

To be as fair as possible, we have set 10 p.m. EST (Eastern Standard Time), Sunday, November 7, 2021, as the deadline for bids.  That is about 8 days away from launch (Ebay norm is 7 days), so don't delay!  All bids by e-mail or telephone dated up to time of the close will be acknowledged and handled on an equal basis. When more than one bid is received for a puzzle during that period and no overbid, we will conduct a draw for the winner aimed at spreading the puzzles around as much as possible.  You may bid at list price as many puzzles as you wish (no limit here).  The more list price bids you make, the better chance of winning a puzzle.  And don’t worry about ending up with too many puzzles.  It has never happened

However, since 1998 we have allowed each buyer to make (and revise) overbids on a limited number of puzzles if you are willing to go above the list price; for this sale the limit is 4 puzzles. Obviously, the highest overbid dated by 10 p.m. EST, Sunday, November 7, 2021, will claim that puzzle.  You may check with us on the status of bidding for any puzzle and drop, add, revise or switch your bids as often as you wish right up to the last moment so long as you are the leading over-bidder on no more than 4 puzzles at any one time.  Note also, we are exempting from the 4 O/B rule, puzzles priced at up to $12, mainly some children’s  and cardboard puzzles.  We do ask that you not withdraw or reduce an overbid while you are still in the lead as others may have relied on it in making their bidding decisions (you can add to it, though).  We also ask that when overbidding you do so by at least the following minimum increments: on prices up to $100: $2; from $100 to $300: $5; over $300: $10, and that you not overbid by simply stating in an email: “Overbid the current bid by the minimum amount”.  You must state a figure for your overbid.  Also note: we treat your overbid as the actual bid regardless of the amount being overbid, and not an “up to” or proxy bid as does the Ebay computer. This is an important distinction from Ebay and can be both a positive and a negative (call me and I will explain). If two (or more) overbidders are tied at the close, the overbid dated earlier is the winner.  Yes, the process is complicated, mainly because we are trying to balance two seemingly irreconcilable objectives: spread the puzzles as broadly as possible, while allowing serious collectors and bidders to buy puzzles special to their collections.  

Other distinctions: we do not notify you when you are overbid; you should check the bidding from time to time.  While we try to acknowledge all bids as they are received, we cannot do this the last night near the end of the sale as bids pour in.  And please, please, please note in your email when bidding, puzzle number (#), title (if you misstate number), amount of bid, and whether it is an overbid.  This helps greatly in our recording of your bids, both on the website and in our records and will speed up response time.

3. Strategy

In our last sale, every puzzle listed was sold with 94% going via overbids, many, however, by only a few dollars over list price.  On average, buyers received about a fifth of the puzzles they bid on. In all, 74 bidders received puzzles. It is best to request more puzzles than you need, the more, the better your chances, maybe setting a maximum dollar limit in case you are “too lucky” (never happens).  Remember: there is no limit to the number of puzzles you can bid at list price, but as puzzles are overbid, their list price bids become "moot". Best of all, however, near the end check on the status of the bidding by visiting our website and email us to add to your list puzzles not in heavy demand, maybe even placing your overbids on some of them.

Please note we usually are overwhelmed with emails in the last 10 minutes of the sale despite bringing in our webmaster to handle and post bidding online, and our son, Conrad, to help record bids in our records.  This means the emails pile up and we are unable to open all of them until the next morning.  It is possible you could appear to be the high bidder for a puzzle after 10 p.m. (or even the next morning), but an email with a higher bid dated before 10 p.m. is sitting there unopened or not even received until well after the close despite being dated before the close.  The higher email bid would prevail.  Moreover, we recheck all the bidding the next day before announcing results on our website, hopefully later that day.  Bills take another 2-3 days to generate and email out.  Yes, the Ebay computer has us beat here, but we like to think we are a lot friendlier! 

For foreign bidders where the sale may be closing at all hours of the night because of the time zone difference, and for bidders who are traveling or involved in an important activity (e.g. watching Masterpiece Theaterand can't easily reach a computer, we are allowing you to email closing bids earlier during the sale which we will hold and enter automatically after close when you are out or asleep in bed or involved with an important activity.  Thus, you can engage in last minute "sniping" without staying up all night or missing your function or activity or sleep.  But you must honor such bids if you prevail.

4. Payment & Shipping

Everyone making bids will receive a summary of the sale and a bill listing the puzzles they are receiving, a “second chance” list of puzzles not requested by anyone in the first round (if any), and instructions on payment and shipment. For shipping within US, we will charge $6 for the first puzzle ($10 west of the Mississippi or south of the Mason-Dixon Line); $2 for each additional puzzle; $2 for the first $100 of insurance; and $1.50 for each $100 of insurance thereafter, with shipment by USPS First Class.   After experiencing delays of months by the Post Office in making good on lost or damaged puzzles, we have decided to use the insurance money to “self-insure”.  There is no shipment of puzzles we cannot cover, and we will reduce the time you receive reimbursement from months to days.  Heavy puzzles and boxes, shipment abroad and special arrangements including Priority Mail are at extra cost.  For puzzles purchased by Massachusetts residents, we must add 6.25% sales tax unless you send us your tax-exempt number.  We much prefer personal checks for US sales.  If PayPal is the only alternative (e.g., overseas sales), we will add an estimate of charges for use of PayPal (3.5%) and, if currency conversion is involved, another estimated 3.5%. We only accept PayPal or checks from U.S. banks; please do not ask me to sign up for some other electronic payment service. 

5. Puzzle Parley, Exhibition

The Puzzle Parley scheduled for July 23-25, 2021, was transformed into a “virtual parley” and over 200 people signed up, with many tuning in at some time.  Our next puzzle parley will be in-person at the Sturbridge Host Hotel, July 22-24, 2022.  For the latest information on Parleys, visit: http://www.puzzleparley.org.  You can read all about past Parleys on my website or on the Parley website.  These meetings are "golden opportunities" for puzzle collectors, cutters, and enthusiasts to learn about the history, cutting, restoration and preservation of puzzles as well as to view and buy lots of old and new puzzles.  And you will meet the faces behind the world of jigsaw puzzles (including me) and some of today’s brilliant new cutters, while making friends with other puzzle people. The Parleys are entirely voluntary operations (the organizers, even me the co-founder, pay their own way) and help is always needed as we age.  If you might be interested in helping, email Melinda Shebell at   , or myself at  .  Currently, I am planning to hold an Open House at our cottage in Worcester, MA Sunday afternoon of the Parley, health permitting.  It may be my last such event as age catches up with me.

Currently, I am scheduled to put on another exhibition of puzzles in the Art Gallery here at Briarwood in Worcester, from early May to early July, 2022.  I will send out more details next year.  If you plan to come and view it, call me ahead and I may be able to meet you at the Gallery and give a “private tour”.

6. In conclusion

We hope to hear from you and welcome your emails and calls.  Generally, we will be around to respond promptly to you and post the latest bidding on our website.  And if my instructions confuse you, give me a phone call (508-799-0644) and I will explain.  But please use email for your bidding so I have a written record of your bids which I can search and check on my accuracy.

Thank you!