In the world of checkers art, the imagination
has also created a realm of Checker Puzzles
and one artistic source for these checkers
Norman Rockwell's Checkers Prints
Checkers artist Norman Rockwell created "CHECKERS" as
an illustration for a story about an older
circus clown named Pokey
Joe. The story and illustration were
published by Ladies'
Home Journal magazine in 1929 and readers
find Pokey Joe feeling sad and blue because
he believes he is no longer funny. Rockwell's
circus friends come up with a plan to lift
Pokey Joe's spirits and renew his self confidence
by coaxing him into a checkers game and conspiring,
of course, to let Pokey Joe win. This design
was the oldest of three "Checker" prints
that Norman Rockwell created.
In the early 1930s, "CHECKERS" was
made into a puzzle by the Arteno Co. of Boston, Massachusetts.
The puzzle is 22” x 15” and contains a
total of 730 pieces. This puzzle may still be available
today and was originally made into a scroll style of
cutting that was combined with total cutting along
color lines, as in the method used by some of the
best cutters of that era.
The second of the Rockwell “CHECKERS” prints
to be created into a puzzle was “THE
The original painting of the "Last
Move" was created in the 1940’s
along with other illustrations of this period. It
is possible that it is from ca. 1948 and the theme
behind the picture is two "old
codgers" enjoying a friendly game of
checkers. It was painted as an illustration for a
magazine cover as were the majority of Norman Rockwell’s
fine artist paintings and also made a popular design
for a puzzle game.
The third Rockwell “CHECKERS” was
called "The Game" or “The
This painting was one of the many illustrations artist
Norman Rockwell created for covers of the Saturday
Evening Post and this particular print was the cover
design for the April 3, 1943, edition. It was, in fact,
the April Fool's cover, wherein numerous odd and out
of place objects were hidden, as in Norman Rockwell's
"The Checkers Game" was
also turned into a Rockwell checkers jigsaw puzzle.
One such puzzle is an authentic Springbok jigsaw puzzle
consisting of 500 interlocking pieces 18 x 23.5 inches.
The various April fooleries are stated on the back
of the box, which reads: “There
are at least forty five major April fooleries in Norman
Rockwell's April fool cover on this week's Post. If
you can find twenty five of them, you are shooting
par. If you can find thirty five, you're bogey plus
and if you find more than that, you ought to start
discovering new stars with the naked eye."
“The Checkers Game”
by artist Norman Rockwell.
The intent of this 1943 cover was for the reader to
discover the deliberate absurdities that artist Norman
Rockwell has incorporated into this composition as
part of the typical April Fool’s joke. At first
glance it appears to be such an innocent scene with
a sweet elderly couple playing an enjoyable game of
checkers together. She looks like she’s contemplating
her next move while he smiles at her lovingly, all
the while waiting patiently for her to make her checker
move. Then suddenly it becomes apparent that the little
lady has a wrench in her hand and there are no checkers
to be found anywhere and further, that there is a
bottle levitating in midair. Once caught into the
artistic irregularities of the checkers theme, viewers
eventually realize that Rockwell had them trapped
inside the checkers picture and that he got them good
~ April Fools! This print was a perfect motif in a
foyer where people wait and the print made an interesting
theme for a puzzle, not only in putting the pieces
together but in figuring out the various inconsistent
about artist Norman Rockwell.