In the 1960s and ‘70s, Whitman Publishing Company released a range of Frame-Tray puzzles for children. The genre’s simple format was designed to help kids develop visual and motor skills.
Each puzzle typically depicted a full-color illustration, often a scene with characters from popular comic books, TV shows or movies. The image was die-cut into several large, interlocking pieces that could be securely assembled within the pre-fitted frame.
The frame not only to guide children with puzzle piece placement, it also doubled as a form of stackable storage. Completing a puzzle resulted in a picture that could be carried around and proudly displayed.
Whitman was one of several brands that operated under the Western Publishing umbrella. In addition to Whitman, Western also sold Frame-Tray puzzles under the Golden and Merrigold Press brand names, making the company one of the largest manufacturers of inexpensive mass-produced puzzles at the time.
Over the years, the Whitman’s pop-culture-influenced puzzle inventory was augmented to include holiday scenes, animals, and educational maps.
Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales, an online publication that covers toys and games past and present.