Quilt Notes: The earliest version in print of WORLD'S FAIR PUZZLE was published in the Ladies Art Company Catalogue (#30) in the late 1890's. But the LAC design (as illustrated right) only shows the outlines, not the dark and light distribution, so there's lots of flexibility on just how to make those decisions. The illustration (left) appeared in the Chicago Tribune in Nancy Cabot's column on October 3, 1934. It too departs from most of the compendiums: see, for instance, Jinny Beyer's QUILTER'S ALBUM OF PATCHWORK PATTERNS (#108-5) and Barbara Brackman's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PIECED QUILT PATTERNS (#1357.5).
If you have a chance to pursue any of the various design book collections, notice that there are a number of interesting, related designs, including a delightful similarity between this pattern and BLAZED TRAIL, also published by Cabot (1937), as if one were the inspirational offspring of the other. The crane origami images (upper right) are faux fabrics, but the Japanese often include origami in their textiles designs, and which might be appropriate for a World's Fair pattern.
In quilt design titles generally, "puzzle" indicates that it is "pieced," like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, and not appliquéd. Nevertheless, occasionally the title works well with the idea of the name in terms of mystery. Journeys of discovery, "epics" and research too, all have that in common, what will one discover along the trail, where does it lead? Cabot sees this pattern as a walk winding round various buildings which house fascinating World's Fair exhibits. In the same way, the design works well with novelty fabrics, or prints with 3D images, for instance, in order to suggest the curiosity of the exhibits. Meanwhile the overall tiling pattern (see below) playfully suggests that we literally wander and wonder from one corner of the coverlet to the other.
Compare with BOSTON STREETS, for the journey, or with CENTENNIAL, another old block celebrating a famous exposition, and CENTURY OF PROGRESS, which celebrates the 1930's World's Fair. More epic journey designs at this site include:
ROAD TO TENNESSEE
A WINDING TRAIL