A.V.N.Jones & Co.
'The Railway Series' jig-saw puzzles
It may seem strange that this series of jigsaws has been included here as the puzzles were neither published by the Great Western Railway, nor were they produced by Chad Valley as were all the 'official' GWR puzzles. There is however a strong link between these puzzles produced and sold by A.V.N.Jones & Co. 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 all produced on 3 ply wood and were 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.
We are fortunate in having been able to add two of these puzzles to our collection as they rarely appear on the market.
Subject No. 5 - The Guard's Van
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.
Subject No. 6 - In the Signal Box
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.
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.