A Look into Par Puzzles

Par puzzles are known to be a rare commodity, even amongst collectors. Let us explore why that is so, and explore why par puzzles are so rare and the reason for them being so precious.

Par puzzles are one-of-a-kind handmade wooden jigsaw puzzles that are considered to be a very precious commodity in the jigsaw world. The concept of par puzzles began in the early 1930s, during the great depression, after which the idea swept throughout the nation. Each puzzle piece is highly intricate, and the purpose of a par puzzle is to beat the 'par time,' completing the puzzle as quickly as possible.

Invented by Frank Ware and John Henriques in the early 1930s, these puzzles were and have always been a hot commodity when it comes to jigsaw enthusiasts, challenge seekers, and all puzzle veterans throughout the globe. This is because of the challenge the puzzle posed, which attracted a lot of the audience in order to break the par time and become the fastest person to solve the puzzle. What made this puzzle challenging was the fact that all pieces were irregularly designed, so it took a lot of work to determine which piece was placed where and what the edge piece was.

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Par Puzzles – A Brief History

Par puzzles are the puzzles that were created by Frank Ware and John Henriques, who resided in New York City, NY, at the time.

Both Frank and John lost their jobs around the 1930s due to the great depression. That is when they got into the puzzle industry to make a living, doing puzzles that they rented and sold as well.

What all puzzle production companies were aiming for was to do puzzles to be as cheap as possible and to gain as much profit as they could. This was just one side of the coin because some puzzle companies also did high-quality puzzles with great craftsmanship to rent out to puzzle enthusiasts, and these puzzles also garnered quite a customer base as time went by.

The top-quality puzzles used prints of modern art and vivid posters to make their product more appealing. Although this idea was very popular in the market at the time, Henriques had other plans. He eventually perfected the art of cutting puzzle pieces and puzzle-cutting techniques so that the resulting pieces were highly intricate.

They started making highly intricate puzzles, which had a ‘par time’ written on the box. Henriques was well-known in the jigsaw community at the time as a very fast puzzler, and the par time was basically the duration he took to assemble the puzzle, thus ushering in the invention of the 'Par Puzzle.'

What Are Par Puzzles?

As discussed previously, par puzzles are truly unique wooden puzzles, which are considered to be very precious in the jigsaw community due to the challenge they come with, and the allure to beat the par time.

How these puzzles work is that they contain a par time which is written on the box, and the par puzzle does not come with any guide whatsoever. The challenge the puzzle comes with, and the entire reason why these puzzles are considered to be so precious is to complete the puzzle before the par time.

This is because the par time which is written on the puzzle box is actually the duration it took for Henriques to assemble the puzzle.

When he was alive, Henriques was very well-known in the jigsaw community not only for being one of the creators of the par puzzle but also for being one very fast puzzle assembler.

His involvement in the creation of par puzzles was very crucial because he had perfect puzzle-cutting puzzle-cutting techniques throughout the years, which is why the craftsmanship these puzzles are associated with is top-notch and highly complex.

Why are they so expensive?

There was recent news in the jigsaw community that a handcrafted jigsaw puzzle was sold in the market for an astonishing price of $4500. So what are these puzzles, and why are they considered to be so expensive?

When these types of puzzles were first invented, their rise to fame was a quick one, and the main reason why these great puzzles shot to fame so rapidly was that they raised the quality of puzzles.

At the time when par puzzles were invented, all other puzzle companies focused on rolling out puzzles aiming for as much profit as possible. Due to this, the resulting puzzles were of very low quality and fragile as well.

However, when par puzzles were launched in the market, they quickly gained the reputation of being known as the ‘Rolls Royce of puzzles.’

This was because the prints and the craftsmanship which was implemented into the par puzzles were highly complex and detailed at the time, which greatly raised its price.


Even nowadays, if you are scouring through the market in hopes of buying par puzzles, the minimum price you would want to keep in mind should be more than a thousand dollars.

That’s because these par puzzles are uniquely designed, and many accomplished puzzle makers have said that 'every single puzzle piece is an opportunity to ruin the entire puzzle.'

Each puzzle piece is so intricate and irregular that it is very easy to ruin the entire puzzle with just a single wrong piece.

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