Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zenith Puzzles, to David from Grandma Clara

At some point, I had the habit of trawling antique stores, looking for anything interesting. What did I mean by interesting? I'm not sure. Usually it involved old packaging, which is often good for design inspiration.

Somewhere along the way, we picked up this set of puzzles, maybe as a toy for Daughter Number Three-Point-One, or maybe because of the box. But it's been sitting in the basement for a while, and it's time for it to move on.

Red cardboard Zenith Puzzles box with illustrations of hands and metal puzzles
But first, an appreciation for its classic appearance. I appreciate that it was sold as "suitable for boys and girls," unlike so many toys these days that take gendering to an absurd level.

Gray cardboard with blue ink circles with holes showing where the puzzles were attached
Inside, the puzzles came attached to the cardboard liner.

Bent metal puzzles and a small instruction booklet inside a box
It has a set of instructions, dated 1950.

Imagine anyone selling a toy this simple today. Puzzles like this are still sold, don't get me wrong. But they each come in their own little plastic box, where the packaging costs more than the product.

And here's the most poignant component of the Zenith puzzle box that's spent the last decade or so in my basement.

Christmas gift tag handwritten in fountain pen ink To David from Grandma Clara, with Santa Claus illustration
Who was David? Did he play with the puzzles? Did his mother make him leave the gift card inside the box so that he'd write a thank you note? And who finally sold the puzzles, David or his parents?

It's an odd thing to feel nostalgia for someone else's past.

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