My father, John Seymour, started collecting old puzzles when he came across a 100 year old puzzle for sale for two dollars at a flea market. Soon, some of my sisters were "looking for puzzles for Dad." My search began in the mid 1980s and never really had much luck out here in California, maybe one puzzle every six months. My sister, Joline, was living in New England and seemed to be able to find some every month. I think I kept everything I found; my sister sent most, but not all, of her finds to my father.
Things picked up for me with the advent of the Internet; puzzles could be had for a few bucks if you searched the notesgroups. Rec.marketplace was the source of some of my oldest Pastime puzzles and I think that the most I ever paid was about $20. Of course, the World Wide Web soon became a part of the Internet and eBay followed. Another boost to my collecting came when I became a member of the AGCA (now known as the AGPC. I was able to meet other puzzle collectors and make purchases at the conventions.
A few years back, I aquired my father's collection and later, my sister's. I now have over 850 wooden jigsaw puzzles and including cardboard puzzles from the 1930s and 1940s, I have over 1000 puzzles filling up my "puzzle room." I often spread to the rest of the house: first, the dining room table, then the couch in the guest room, next the bed, and then the floor. At that point, my wife usually tells me that we're having guests and leaves it to me to figure out that I have to put them all away.
My collection is a bit eclectic, I like any puzzle that is representative of some facet of puzzle history, i.e. any puzzle from the 18th century, early American puzzles (c1820), first adult puzzles (c1890), etc. I also like puzzles that are examples of the various cutting styles. Because it was difficult for me to find puzzles when I first started collecting, my emphasis was on quantity, not quality. I try to re-store / repair every puzzle before it goes back into the box. After accumulating stacks of poster boards with puzzles on them waiting for my time, I developed a strong desire to only purchase puzzles that are in good shape or at most, only missing one piece.
It will take me several years from when I retire to re-store all of the puzzles that I have. The learning process for doing restorations has made me into a decent jigsaw puzzle cutter. I've made almost two hundred and I'll admit that in the past, I would shamelessly copy Par or Pastime figures. I am trying to create my own figures. Here are a couple of examples of my work.
If you are wondering, from the point of view of solving puzzles, I think
that color-cut puzzles are the best. Since I seem to be almost incapable of
walking away from an incomplete puzzle, a puzzle that will challenge me right
up until the almost very last piece and can be completed in one sitting is
the right choice for my sanity. There are many fine examples of this kind of
puzzle that have survived from the early 20th century. The female clown, Pierette
on the previous page is one.