I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but puzzles aren’t just for passing time during the holidays anymore. The demand for puzzles has gotten so high lately that puzzles are getting ridiculously hard to find, and often shockingly expensive.
Check any manufacturer’s website, and you’ll find most of their puzzles listed as Out of Stock (eg., White Mountain Puzzles, Springbok, Ravensburger). Puzzles I’d normally expect to pay $15-20 for are retailing for $50+ on Amazon. Even the U.S. Postal Store, not the first place I’d think of to look for puzzles, has sold out. It’s insane.
I was lucky enough to snag one of the Love Stamp puzzles from the U.S. Postal Store before they sold out last month, and it finally came last week.
Product Review: The Love Stamp Puzzle by White Mountain Puzzles
|Genre: 1000 piece jigsaw |
|Publisher: White Mountain|
|Size: 20 in. x 27 in.||Designer: Lois B. Sutton|
|Source: U.S. Postal Store |
Stamp puzzles are ridiculously fun
Normally, when I work a puzzle I spend some time sorting the pieces by type and color first into a series of sorting trays, like this set from Bits & Pieces. Edge pieces go into one tray regardless of pattern or color, and I sort the middle pieces by pattern or color into the others.
I really hate doing this, but since it makes the rest of the puzzle so much nicer to solve, especially when more than one person wants to work on it, I go ahead and do it anyway.
In this puzzle, though, each stamp was so distinctive that sorting the puzzle would mean essentially solving it before I’d even started piecing it together. So I didn’t bother. I just worked the puzzle a few stamps at a time right out of the box.
I cannot emphasize enough how refreshing it was to work a puzzle this way. It was like eating cake for dinner.
White Mountain Puzzles are some of my favorite puzzles to work anyway, because the pieces themselves are thick and smoothly cut. If two pieces are meant to go together, they slot together easily. There’s no ambiguity, as there can be with other less-well made brands. If you have to force the piece at all, it’s not a match. This puzzle was no exception.
There were a few downsides to this puzzle, but to be fair, only one of them is actually the puzzle’s fault.
First, because I hadn’t sorted the pieces, when The Thirteen-Year-Old showed up to help, I couldn’t simply hand her a sorting tray and let her get to work like I usually do. Instead, I had to hand her the box and wait while she identified pieces for her target stamp. She did not enjoy hunting through the 750+ remaining pieces for the 30 or so she needed for her chosen stamp, so wandered off after about 10 minutes, never to return. That was a shame.
Second, when I took the puzzle apart, I noticed that if I wasn’t extremely careful, some of the front paper would peel off the backing. I don’t remember that being a problem with other White Mountain Puzzles, but it was definitely an issue with this one.
Finally, I had so much fun working the puzzle, I spent more time on it this week than I normally would, so this 1000-piece puzzle didn’t take as long as I’d like.
Overall, though, I had a great time working this puzzle and would absolutely do another stamp-themed puzzle (maybe even this one) again.
Where to find puzzles now that they seem to be a scarce resource
Sadly, the U.S. Post Office seems to have sold out of their puzzles, and at the time I prepared this post the Postal Store no longer had a listing for the Love Stamp puzzle at all. White Mountain Puzzles also lists the Love Stamp puzzle as being out of stock. However, Amazon has a large number of other stamp-based puzzles available for you to try.
In general, if you’re having a hard time sourcing puzzles from your usual spots, you might try Bits & Pieces or your local independent book store. Bookstores often stock puzzles, even if they don’t list them on their website. You may need to call them to find out if they carry puzzles, and if they have one available you might enjoy. I expect your local bookseller will be happy to help you out if they can.
Alternatively, you might reach out to friends who also like to work puzzles and see if they might be interested in a puzzle swap. I wish I could take credit for this quietly brilliant plan, but it comes to me by way of my sister-in-law, who texted me last week to set up our first swap.
What about you?
Do you have any good tips for finding puzzles? Have you picked up any new (or refreshed any old) hobbies while sheltering-in-place?
- More Book Reviews on Caterpickles
- U.S. Postal Store, which in addition to having stamps and mailing supplies, has a fun assortment of postal-themed gifts year-round
- White Mountain Puzzles, manufacturer of the Love Stamp Puzzle
- Bits and Pieces