About the 2023 Sale & Instructions

We are pleased to offer 115 restored puzzles, including 42 Pastimes (easily, our most ever), 1 Double L, 2 Tuck Zag-Zaw, 1 Isabel Ayer, 5 Hamlin (“Little Cup-Up”), 3 Pars, 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  For reasons discussed below, many are being withdrawn from our collection or website.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, 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.  If you have questions, we welcome your 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.

2022-23 was another challenging year as we moved away from the presence of COVID-19 in our daily lives.  Because of Bob’s inability to “let go” of many puzzles he worked so hard restoring, 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.  

1. Restoration

As in the past, nearly all puzzles needing work have been restored by Bob as his principal avocation in retirement.  Restoration includes making replacement pieces, which usually meet the test: “You have to hunt to find them”.  Bob also repairs all the broken/split knobs, missing/damaged paper, and delaminated wood he 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, email us and we will work it out, including refund. Also, wherever possible, Bob repairs boxes using archival materials and techniques, so they can safely store the puzzles but still show their age.  And if Bob feels the box acidity might affect the pieces, he has been lining box bottoms with archival tissue paper, particularly the older Pastime boxes. 

2. Bidding

To be as fair as possible, we have set 9 p.m. EST (Eastern Standard Time), Sunday, November 12, 2023, as the deadline for bids.  Nov. 12 is about 8 days away from launch (Ebay norm is 7 days), so don't delay!  All bids by e-mail 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.  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!  Last year’s sale, we removed any limitation on overbidding, other than to ask that you not try to buy up “too many”. Bob reserves the right to limit the number of puzzles won by a bidder in this sale if he feels that person has won “too many” at the end.  This was not a problem last year.

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 (talk to Bob and he will explain). If two (or more) bidders are tied at the close, the bid dated earlier is the winner.  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 (should you misstate number), amount of bid, and whether it is an overbid (o/b).  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 97% 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: 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 placing overbids on some of them.  Only 4 puzzles ended up with only list price bids in last year’s sale.

Please note we usually are overwhelmed with emails in the last 10 minutes of the sale despite our webmaster handling and posting bidding online, and my son, Conrad, recording 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 9 p.m. (or even the next morning), but an email with a higher bid dated before 9 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 even though in hindsight, you could have prevailed with a lower overbid.

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 add a charge of $7 for the first puzzle ($12 west of the Mississippi or south of the Mason-Dixon Line); $2 for each additional puzzle; $2 for the first $100 of insurance; and $2 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.  You may remove this charge and self-insure.  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 Bob to sign up for some other electronic payment service.  Too much complication at this stage of my life (age 87)

5. Puzzle Parley, Exhibition

Our next puzzle parley will be held in Rochester, NY, July 19-21, 2024.  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, preservation, and display 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 Bob who is now “the grand old man of jigsaw puzzles”) and some of today’s brilliant new cutters, while making friends with other puzzle people. The Parleys are entirely voluntary operations (the organizers, even Bob 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 Bob at  .  

6. In conclusion

We hope to hear from you and welcome your emails.  Generally, we will be around to respond promptly to you and post the latest bidding on our website.  And if these instructions confuse you, contact Bob and he will explain.  But please use email for your bidding so we have a written record of your bids which can be searched after the sale closes for accuracy.  We can make mistakes, especially as Bob ages.  

Thank you!
Bob & Conrad