Isabel Ayer

Boston, MA

When the first puzzle craze struck Boston, MA back in 1907, Miss Ayer quickly moved into the cutting and sale of wood puzzles from her Fountain Pen Store in Old South Building using the name, “Picture Puzzle Exchange”. Her ad in the City Directory in 1909 reads, “Puzzles for sale and to loan; pictures, wood, saw blades, boxes, labels, etc. to make puzzles.” Her rental library was probably the first of its kind. She operated out of several locations in Boston for 30 years and helped many noncommercial makers in getting started. She even made replacement pieces. Her puzzles were first made of solid wood and then of plywood, cut non-interlocking with extensive color line cutting, and packed into sturdy dark green boxes. They are well known for being quite difficult. See also “Jigsaw Puzzles: An Illustrated History and Price Guide”, Anne D. Williams, Wallace Homestead Book Co. (1990), pp. 36-37.