When I was a kid, my grandparents contributed to my inevitable-equine-spoilage by getting me and my sister horse-themed toys and books. Family legend has it a patient of my grandfather's (he was a doctor) named Claire Sittler started this. But I think I added a good deal on my own. Who can tell? Is horse fever explainable? My love of jigsaws was certainly started back then, with Springbok round and octagon puzzles, purchased in Tucson toy stores and worked in my grandparents' home in Tucson. They weren't all horsey -- we have an Early Motor Cars one -- but my absolute favorites were the horse and carousel ones. (Some day I'll do a post on how the carousel one influenced the TSII head logo.) Today  my collection of jigsaws numbers about 150.
In the early 80s, during college, somewhere in an art shop, I found (and instantly bought) 4 small studio cards carrying images of horses that Ruth Ray had painted. Copper Queen had siblings!! Other people have documented these Donald Art Prints; thank you so much, Paula.
Part of my story is that I somehow managed to lose track of those 4 cards for years. I can only dimly guess when -- late 80s? early 90s? -- amd even dimmer as to when I rediscovered them -- sometime in the middle to late 2000s. When I finally dug them out, I carefully made a scrapbook called Horse Images. I started remembering the puzzle around then.
Madly, wholly without grounds, I began wondering if puzzles existed of all four. Searching the Internet was now part of my life. I'd used it to find horse stamps, not to mention model horses and tack! I slipped into a pattern of occasionally searching eBay with 'horse jigsaw puzzles.' This was not at all steady or committed, just whenever I felt like... a drunken binge of eye candy.
In the fall of 2013 I hit pay dirt.
When Copper Queen arrived, I was amazed at its condition. Only the bottom of the puzzle box revealed any ageing.
Whitman again, but a different line: Crown. The number of pieces was 713. No date.
The side of the puzzle was disappointing. No chance of Golden Ruler or Storm King, alas. "French Provincial, Quiet City, Copper Queen, Village Lane."
This shot shows the pieces after I had separated most of them, so the side-by-side alignments and parallelism, something that would happen over a very long period of storage, was not photographed by me. But it was there.
It took two days to do.
Right about now, my own beloved model horse hobby caused me some discomfort. It has trained me, for many years, to look critically at a horse, and judge its conformation. How I wished, now, I had never been taught that -- for once! Alas, it's true: her head is too small. In desperate defense, I note that her off foreleg is also too small. In fact the whole horse seems to get bigger as you move from nose to hindmost hoof.
The pose is tremendously iconic. It shouts breed. Yet the setting is magical, mystical, haunting. In fantasy the viewer may make of images what they wish. I will justify the small head on grounds of Victorian fashion; old masters portrayed horses like this in the 1800s, laying the groundwork for the Arabian.
But that's another story.