A.V.N.Jones jigsaws

A.V.N.Jones & Co.

We cannot find much about the history of this company, other than that it started out as a fine art publisher who, from the early 1900s, published artistic, humorous and photographic postcards. We know that in 1908 they operated from 112 Fore Street in London and by 1911 had expanded to occupy 112 and 113, sometime later they moved to 64 Fore Street. During the mid 1920s to late 1930s they also manufactured wooden jigsaw puzzles and we have seen an advertisement from 1930 in which they offer puzzles with 30, 50, 75, 100, 250, 500, 600 and 1,000 pieces. We do not know if the company resumed production for a short time after the war, or when they stopped trading altogether.

We would love to hear from anybody who can provide more information about this company.

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Click or tap on any jigsaw thumbnail to see a larger image.
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A puzzling puzzle


York, Bootham Bar and the Minster York, Bootham Bar and the Minster

120 pieces (approx. 9¾" x 14½")

We came across this puzzle whilst researching the various 'DUNLOP' jigsaws produced by Chad Valley. It is based on the painting titled York. Bootham Bar and the Minster which is signed C.E.Turner and features the city wall and gateway at the centre with the Minster visible in the distance. In the foreground are some tourists, possibly from the two motor coaches which are parked behind the two cars at the front of the picture which both have 'DUNLOP' branded tyres.

The box and labels make no reference to a maker but it has been suggested that it was produced by A.V.N. Jones & Co., and so it has been included here. It quite clearly uses the exact same Dunlop picture as those others which were of Chad Valley manufacture and so is included on that page also for comparison.

The large guide picture on the box lid differs in a number of details from the puzzle picture. The title just visible at the bottom left, York Bootham Bar and the Minster, is written in block capitals rather than cursive script, the overall colouring is different, two people seen standing behind the fence on the left are missing, other people are either missing or have been added, poses and the colour of items of clothing differ, and the bottom half of the nearest coach is now all blue rather than having a blue stripe under the windows.

The puzzle is contained in a pink weave lift off lid box approximately 5" x 8" x 2½" deep. Other than the large guide picture on the front there are no other labels save for an oval label attached to the base of the box which states that THE SALE OF THIS PUZZLE BENEFITS THE ROYAL AIR FORCE BENEVOLENT FUND. The wood is of poorer quality so it could point to it being produced just after the war, or might be an attempt to reduce production costs. The fund has been active active since 1919 and so it is possible that the puzzle was sold in the 1930s.

The Railway Series jig-saw puzzles

A.V.N.Jones Railway Series box lid
A.V.N.Jones Railway Series box lid A.V.N.Jones Railway Series box baseClick or tap to see a larger image

This series of jigsaws came to our attention purely by chance. These puzzles were not produced for, or published by, the Great Western Railway but were produced and sold by A.V.N.Jones & Co., there is however a very strong link between them and the GWR.

The series comprised of twelve small puzzles, eight of which were roughly 7" x 5" and had 'about 30' pieces costing 1/-, and four being 7" x 10" with 'about 100' pieces presumably costing 2/- each. As with the Chad Valley puzzles, these were mainly produced on 3 ply wood and were all hand cut. The puzzles were sold in small cardboard boxes with lift off lids and the smaller puzzles could be assembled inside the box. The box lids had an overall label which did not carry a guide picture, simply a large monochrome illustration advertising the series. The label bore the name of the maker (Manufactured by A. V. N. Jones & Co., London, E.C.2.) and the note Copyright by Gt. Western Railway. A large label on the outside of the box base advertised the full range of puzzles in the series and the only indication as to the actual content was the pencilled subject number. Click or tap on the thumbnail image to see the label approximately full size.

We are fortunate in having been able to add two of these puzzles to our collection as they rarely appear on the market.

No. 5 - The Guard's Van

The Guard's VanClick or tap to see a larger image

About 30 pieces (marked as being about 7" x 5" on the box, but is actually 6" x 4⅛").
Believed to have been published from about 1925.

Picture shows a porter, with 'GWR' on his cap, driving an electric trolley loaded with luggage including a car tyre wrapped in brown paper. A second porter is standing in the Guard's Van and it looks as if he has just finished loading a hand trolley with a very varied load of parcels, baskets and a milk churn. They are being watched by the smartly dressed Station Master.

No. 6 - In the Signal Box

In the Signal BoxClick or tap to see a larger image

About 30 pieces (marked as being about 7" x 5" on the box, but is actually 6⅝" x 4½") and has a rather wobbly top edge.
Believed to have been published from about 1925.

The signalman is seen studying the array of signal box instruments on the shelf above a long line of levers. Holding his duster, his hand rests on one of the point levers as if waiting for the right moment to operate it. This puzzle is interesting as on a couple of pieces the paper had lifted to reveal on the reverse the outline of another, uncoloured, picture. It suggests that the puzzle had utilised a page from the colouring book mentioned below for its picture rather than one that had been printed specially. It may be possible that all the puzzles in this series had been made in the same way. Interestingly, this example was cut from solid wood rather than the more usual plywood.

The Great Western Railway Painting Book

In 1924 Dean & Son Ltd. produced a sixteen page painting book for the Great Western Railway with illustrations (a few being signed) by A. Chidley. It was 11" x 8½" in size with card covers and priced at a shilling. There were a total of 12 coloured pictures with blank outlines alongside ready to be completed by either crayon of watercolour paints. There were two sizes of picture, each with its own title, some being a full page in size but the majority of pages carried two smaller landscape oriented pictures. The centre two pages of the book were uncoloured versions of the illustrations on the front and back covers so there were a total of 14 pictures to colour in. The front cover showed the then new engine 'Caerphilly Castle' and on the back cover were drawn examples of five different locomotives of the GWR.

The total number of pictures was given in an auction catalogue as being 18 but that doesn't tally with our adding up. There is a possible explanation however, and that is the auction listing counted twelve pictures inside the book, plus one on the front cover, and then counted each of the five locomotives on the back cover as being a separate picture making 18 pictures in total.

The A.V.N.Jones railway series jigsaws used not only the twelve pictures from inside the book but also the corresponding titles as can be seen from our puzzles above, although the pictures have been slightly cropped. The full page pictures were used for the larger 100 piece puzzles and so each puzzle ended up almost the same size as its original image in the book.

Colouring book front cover Colouring page Colouring page Colouring book back cover

Whilst it is believed that the painting book was first published in 1924 it is not known when it went out of print, although it was certainly still being advertised in the 1926 and then the 1927 editions of the catalogue The Literature of Locomotion, and appeared in an advert carried by The Railway MagazineClick or tap to see a large image of the original advert in 1926. With an eye to Christmas sales, the December 1925 edition of the Great Western Railway MagazineClick or tap to see a large image of the original page devoted nearly a whole page promoting 'Seasonable Gifts' which included books, jigsaws and the painting book. As may be expected with a book which was designed to be drawn and painted in, and thus destined to have a short life, even well used examples rarely come to light and when one does it commands a hefty price tag. Searching the internet, we were able to find some unattributed photographs of an example or two and some of these have been included above for illustration.