This wooden jigsaw puzzle is usually kept in our collections store, along with many other interesting objects that are not currently on display in our showrooms.
The jigsaw has about 290 pieces, and is called ‘The Charge’; the name suggests a military scene – perhaps the famous Charge of the Light Brigade. We don’t know exactly what scene the jigsaw shows, as we have never tried to piece it together, and the original box – which more than likely had an image of the completed puzzle – was probably lost or damaged many years ago.
The puzzle is stored in a biscuit tin, manufactured by a company called MacFarlane Lang & Co., which began life as a small bakery in 1817, although it later expanded and even held the royal warrant of appointment. One internet source suggests this particular biscuit tin was in production in the 1930s, but this is difficult to confirm. The only thing we can be sure of is that the tin was produced during or after 1904, when the company first began using the MacFarlane Lang & Co. name and expanded their business in London. The company traded under the MacFarlane Lang & Co. name until the 1940s, when it merged with other manufacturers.
The biscuit tin is a commemorative keepsake; depicting a meeting between Roberts Burns, the Scottish poet, and Walter Scott, the Scottish writer, in Edinburgh in 1786. The picture is based on an original painting by Charles Martin Hardie which shows the only meeting between the two men.
This jigsaw probably belonged to the Beale family, who were responsible for building Standen. A note inside the tin reads ‘Beale, Standen, E.G’. The Beales enjoyed puzzles and games of all kinds, and there are a number of different examples from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in our collection. Although some of them were later acquistions or donations, rather than family items, they give us an idea of how families spent time together.
Some of the puzzles and games in our collection are really beautifully presented, with bright colours and intricate designs – one such game was featured on the blog earlier this year. I love that this jigsaw not only indicates how late Victorian families often spent their time, but the biscuit tin also gives us an interesting glimpse into the commemorative memorabilia of years gone by.