Antiques Roadshow guest open-mouthed as expert reveals hidden message in rare puzzle

ANTIQUES Roadshow's Justin Croft stunned a guest over 19th-century puzzle evaluation.

The BBC show visited Stonor Park in Oxfordshire and came across a guest with a very interesting puzzle.

Expert Justin noticed how "wonderful" the image the jigsaw created was and said: “It's a wonderful thing. I absolutely love it. 

“I must say, I've never seen anything like this on the roadshow and when we look at it, it's actually a very complicated jigsaw. 

“It's quite easy to do but once you've done it and you start reading about it, it's really quite a puzzle in itself."

The guest revealed: “When I was a child and went to stay with my grandparents, this was something that I was given to do, really from the age of about nine or 10. 

“And when I got into my early 20s, she gave it to me and I've kept it ever since."

Justin replied: “Oh that’s wonderful. We can see down here, a date and I think that says 1807.

“What's happening in this puzzle is that these children are being led through a path, aren’t they?”

He added: “As you put the puzzle together, the path becomes clear.

“They go through this gate, the gate of languages, so it's presumably learning to read and write I suppose. 

“They're going through all sorts of trials and tribulations and they have to keep themselves on this central path at the middle don’t they, so this is a kind of educational toy, of the sort that perhaps we wouldn't give to our children now? 

“It's quite a moralistic game and in the end, there’s this thing called the Temple of Truth, and it's on the Hill of Science.”

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Justin was very pleased to see the guest still had the original wooden box the jigsaw was kept in.

He said: “I think it's an interesting piece because it tells us something about childhood 200 years ago, and it's a really interesting period of childhood in about 1800.

“Up until about 1800 children really weren't thought of anything more than small adults. 

“Towards the end of the 18th century, the beginning of the 19th century, we get this whole idea of childhood as being some special kingdom and children should perhaps be dealt with differently, and receive an education and perhaps even be given toys, and a whole market springs up of toys and games and books for children.”

He concluded: “Does it have a value? I think it does certainly because you've kept it in beautiful condition. And also, very importantly, you've kept the box."

Justin confirmed the item could fetch between £800 and £1000 at auction.

The guest was left shocked yet delighted with Justin's evaluation.

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