We are very passionate about wooden puzzles, particularly Staves and Pars. I remember when I first was introduced to both of these puzzle manufacturers by a collector of both, I was blown away by the quality, history and not to mention price relative to what I was used to paying. However, once I got past my initial sticker shock I began to realize the reasons why people collect and love these puzzles.
It is always fun to show someone who has never experienced one of these wooden wonders the intricate craftsmanship and attention to detail that the puzzles possess. First, many people have never even heard of wood puzzles, let alone Stave Tricks or Teasers. Then when you couple that with the fact that some cost thousands of dollars, people begin to understand that these are not your typical cardboard puzzles you pick up the toy store.
One friend of mine recently asked me, after looking at a few puzzles, which I prefer, Staves or Pars. I hadn’t really thought about them in that way before as they are different in many ways. For Pars, there is something very cool about putting together a puzzle that is nearly 100 years old, yet still in immaculate condition and complete, despite probably have been passed down and around through many hands over the years. The fact that the company was the original entertainment rental business also adds to the mystique of the company. Knowing that Stave was born out of Par’s slowdown also is very intriguing. So from a historical point of view, as well as being first to market, Par has a lot going for it.
On the other hand, Stave really took the high-end puzzle market to the next level and beyond. The creation of Tricks, Teasers, Treats and other non-traditional puzzles really has added an entire new type of puzzle making to the industry. It seems like such a simple idea to make a stumper of a puzzle by having it fit together in multiple ways, but I am not aware of any other manufacturer that had done that prior to Stave introducing it. (If you know of some please email me, I am very interested to learn more!) And then to come up with teasers, another great innovation with themed puzzles that do more than just require creating a nice picture. These and a lot of the fun elements that go into the puzzles (rebuses, interlocking silhouettes etc.) just make for a top-rate company and puzzle experience.
So to answer the question, it is really tough. I think it depends on my puzzle mood (and that of my other puzzle fanatics who help assemble them). If I want to feel nostalgic and wonder who has put the puzzle together over the years, I would probably say Par. However, nothing beats a challenging Stave, so maybe the better question to ask is “what kind of puzzle mood am I in?” and that would determine an answer.