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‘1950s Advertising Jigsaw’ By Past Times

1,000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

Product Dimensions – 41.8 x 30 x 6 cm

Manufacturer Recommended Age – 8 years and up

Clicking on the box image will take you directly to the item’s Amazon ‘buy’ page.

Image Of A 'Past Times' Shop Front

Past Times was a United Kingdom high street retailer, specialising in gifts, as well as retro goods. In 1986, it was established as a mail order company, by John Beale, who was also the developer of the Early Learning Centre. In June 1987, the company opened the first branch in Oxford.

In January 2012, the firm went into administration, and in March 2013, the brand name was bought by WHSmith, a United Kingdom high street Stationery and book retailer.

As there was no accompanying box blurb, or information sheet, I can’t say with any certainty, which decade this jigsaw was actually meant to illustrate. Amazon simply describes it as 1950s style, although looking at some of the products advertised, it might well be the 1960s. There is only one product, ‘Or-Lem’, which I failed to recognise, although of course many of the other products have long since changed their name, or disappeared from our shopping baskets completely.

I particularly liked the insert at the centre bottom of the picture, which simply says ‘T.V. time’, as this evoked an entirely different set of memories and emotions. Television programmes were aired only at specific times during the day and the BBC closed down at 10pm sharp, when the UK National Anthem was played as a ‘Goodnight’ finale. Childrens programming was only scheduled around the tea-time period and was deemed to be over when the 6pm news hit the screen for the adult viewers. We would all sit, very much like the family in the picture, close to the small screen and huddled into a very tight group.

Overall, this jigsaw was good at highlighting some of the happy memories from my childhood, although it would have benefited from a few tangible facts and information. The quality of ‘Past Times’ products in general, was very high and this puzzle is no exception. The pieces were of good quality, with clear and bright imaging and excellent ‘click’ fitting. It is such a shame that the company fell victim to austerity, the first time around!

This item was purchased by me from the charity shop where I volunteer, supporting my local hospice.

Whilst I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a purchase, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from person to person, some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 5 out of 5.

Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • Interesting! That seems like a neat idea for a puzzle. My husband loved doing puzzles, and so does my daughter. I’ve never really liked them, but recently bought one because they’re supposed to help you de-stress..

    • Hi Vicki,

      You really should try making one up, your daughter and husband were right as far as I’m concerned, they are fantastic de-stressers. It is so easy to get lost in trying to find those elusive pieces, that everything else just seems to go out of my mind.

      As I store my jigsaw in a fold up carry case, there is no real pressure on me to rush and finish whatever I am working on. I therefore aim to set myself a time slot of sitting down to work my puzzle for just a few minutes a day, however it never works out like that, as the time simply flies by without me realising 🙂

      Thanks for the visit and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

  • What a shame about Past Times – I didn’t know that it had gone into administration etc. I used to go to the Oxford shop when we lived near Aylesbury but since we moved house in 2009 we’re not near one of the Past Times shops and I hadn’t realised we were no longer getting the catalogue in the post.

    This looks a good puzzle – I didn’t recognise ‘Or-Lem’ either. Is the TV time a biscuit tin do you think? I’ve been looking at some of the other Past Times jigsaws on Amazon – they are pricey! I like the British Isles 1715 puzzle, but at £24.02 + £4.62 UK delivery I shan’t bother – I’ll be checking the charity shops.

    • Hi Margaret,

      We live in Frome, which is only about 10 miles from Bath, where there also used to be an excellent Past Times shop we used to enjoy browsing. They could always be relied upon to have gifts which were just that little bit out of the ordinary and the quality was generally very good.

      I guess the fact that the brand is no longer available, is the partial reason why their remaining range of jigsaw puzzles, is quite so expensive. Sellers are working on a ‘supply and demand’ basis, but I have to be honest and say that at those prices, I wouldn’t be buying either!!

      Charity shop buying for jigsaws can always be a bit hit and miss, as to whether a box contains all the pieces. However, I have gone down this route for many years now and have only had one disappointment that I can recall, so I can live with that, taking into account the price savings 🙂

      The only other reference to ‘Or-Lem’ I could find, is this vintage metal sign, for sale on Amazon, but even trustworthy ‘Google’ couldn’t come up with anything better …


      Thanks for taking the time to comment, it was great to hear from you and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

  • Well you know I like this! Puzzles in this style (nostalgic, collages of products, etc.) are always fun to work, and normally not terribly difficult.

    Not surprisingly, I don’t recognize any of the products shown at a glance other than Marmite.

    • Hi Kelly,

      I know this genre of jigsaw puzzle isn’t particularly hard to work, but I do enjoy them for the social commentary and interest they provide.

      I had quite forgotten that Marmite was also brewed into a hot beefy tasting drink when I was a child and thinking back there was also another similar product called Bovril, although that was only for brewing as a beef drink, or as a flavouring in savoury cooking, never for eating as a spread.

      Thanks for following #dissectology and for adding your latest jigsaw puzzle, I appreciate your loyalty

    • Hi Nikki,

      I suppose it is telling in itself, that you fellow bloggers have only noticed that Past Times is no longer there because I told you so and you are all busy trying to remember where your nearest branch was.

      If that is representative of the general level of brand recognition amongst the majority of the public, then it is little surprise that they couldn’t manage to stay afloat in the recent retail market volatility, which is a real shame.

      Shrewsbury is somewhere I have never visited, as we always come off the motorway at the Shrewsbury junction on our way to visit friends in Llandudno, but bypass the town completely. Friends and colleagues say that it is a lovely place, so we must really make the effort to stop there for a longer break sometime.

      I generally enjoy my jigsaw puzzle making, as it is one of the best forms of escapism I know after reading. I can get myself completely lost in searching out pieces, although time does tend to get away from me very easily!

      Thanks for visiting and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

      • I remember Past Times closing… though I’m pretty sure it closed in Shrewsbury well before the company went into administration. So many companies have now gone, I still miss Woolworths!

        Shrewsbury is definitely worth visiting. Despite it being “over the border”, it’s our nearest big town for shopping etc.

        • I think that the number of high street names disappearing, is only set to increase in the short term, which is a real shame and smaller, independent retailers are going to have to work much smarter to stand any chance of surviving!

          Companies are being sold so fast, that it is difficult to keep up with who own what any more! Suffice to say, that not many companies are British owned any more, which is even more saddening.

          Shrewsbury is deifinitely on our bucket list of places to visit 🙂

  • Oh I loved this shop.

    We bought this very jigsaw for a relative with dementia before the condition progressed too far. Not only did they enjoy doing the puzzle (with some help) but for them the fun came in talking about the products featured.

    • Hi Tracy,

      When we did visit our local Bath branch of ‘Past Times’, there were always some unique and interesting products on display, although I guess that if most of their clientele were like us, just browsers, then it is hardly surprising that they couldn’t survive a severe downturn in the retail market.

      Jigsaw puzzles do focus the mind and help with hand / eye co-ordination, so I guess they are as beneficial to a dimentia sufferer, as they are to a child who is just setting out on the learning process.

      I simply find them quite relaxing and therapeutic to make and I can clear my mind of everything other than finding those elusive next pieces 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by

Written by Yvonne