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A Brief History   Media Articles   Timeline and Logos   Pre-Gazelle Logo Puzzles   Robert Lewin Obituary

A Brief History of Springbok Editions
* Courtesy of Anne Williams

Springbok Editions revolutionized the puzzle industry in 1964. Owners Bob and Katie Lewin had been intrigued by the English circular jigsaw puzzles made by Waddington. With some assistance from Waddington, they founded Springbok Editions to produce similar die-cut puzzles in the U.S.

The circular and octagonal puzzles had a huge impact. Katie had searched museums worldwide for art that would make for challenging and interesting puzzles. The couple commissioned renowned artists to paint special designs, many of which reflected the couple's passion for the natural world. Springbok created a sensation with its best-selling puzzle of "Convergence," an abstract Jackson Pollock painting, that was billed as "the world's most difficult jigsaw puzzle." Salvador Dali painted a special version of one of his double image paintings for Springbok. Springbok was also famous for catering to die-hard puzzlers, with its 500-piece solid color teasers, including "Little Red Riding Hood's Hood" (all red).

Springbok puzzles were high quality, with state of the art lithography and thick cardboard pieces. Katie herself drew the designs for cutting dies, avoiding repetitive grid-like patterns. The circular and octagonal boxes made Springbok puzzles stand out. Springbok puzzles retailed for $3.50 when most other brands were selling for less than $1. A few wooden Springbok puzzles sold for even more.

The company was so successful that in 1967 Hallmark made a handsome offer and acquired the business. The Lewins stayed on as managers until 1969. Hallmark kept the Springbok brand 34 years, then sold it to Allied Products of Kansas City. Today Springbok puzzles are still going strong.

* The above article appeared in the program for the 2004 AGPC Convention, and was titled:
"The 2004 Spilsbury Award Recipients:
Katie and Bob Lewin
Founders of Springbok Editions"
by Anne D. Williams

Springbok Media Articles
* Courtesy of Alan Dein, Anne Williams, and Dottie Fitzwater

The Hartford Times, Nov 11, 1964
The Pittsburgh Press, Nov 17, 1964
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Nov 19, 1964
Dallas Times Herald, Dec 7, 1964
Newsweek, Dec 14, 1964
The Denver Post, Feb 5, 1965
Time, Mar 26, 1965
Business Week, July 10, 1965
Newsday, Sept 21, 1965

Springbok Timeline and Logos
This web site focuses on puzzles through 1973.
A handful of later puzzles are also included.

Beginning of the Gazelle Logo Era (1963 through late 1971)

1963
Springbok Editions, Inc. is founded by Katie Lewin and her husband, Robert Lewin.

The first puzzles have no logo.
(See Pre-Gazelle Logo Puzzles below.)

1964
Springbok Editions sells over 100,000 copies of its puzzle "Convergence," bringing the company to national attention.

1965

The Gazelle Logo is adopted.

1967
Hallmark Cards, Inc. purchases Springbok Editions from the Lewins (May, 1967). The Lewins assume management of the Springbok division.

The Puzzle Serial Numbers are changed from the original C-Series, M-Series, SQ-Series, etc to PZLxxxx.

1969
The Lewins depart Springbok Editions and Hallmark. John Robrock begins designing the puzzle die cuts, taking the reins from Katie Lewin.

1970

An expanded Gazelle Logo is adopted.

(Note - The Octagonal and Children's puzzles had already been using this logo since their inception, the wood Shelfer-Series in 1966, and the GB-Series in 1967.)

End of the Gazelle Logo Era
Beginning of the Bullseye Logo Era (Late 1971 through Now)

Late 1971

The Gazelle is removed from the logo.

Late 1972

The Bullseye Logo is adopted, and remains in use to this day.

1973
The Lewins found Mill Pond Press to publish high quality wildlife art. Initial artists include Maynard Reece and Roger Tory Peterson.
(See Mill Pond Press.)

1982-1985,1990
Hallmark hosts the National Jigsaw Puzzle Championships.

1999
John Robrock retires from Hallmark.

2002
Allied Products, Inc. purchases the Springbok line from Hallmark.

The Puzzle Serial Numbers are changed from PZLxxxx to 1JIGxxxxx.

Pre-Gazelle Logo Puzzles

Springbok Editions was founded in 1963, but did not start using the Gazelle Logo on its puzzles until 1965.

Most of the Pre-Gazelle Logo puzzles have no copyright date printed on the boxes. Those that are undated are probably from 1964, although some may be from late 1963 or early 1965.

These puzzles mark the beginning of the Gazelle Logo era.

1050 - A Girl With A Watering Can
2000 - Children's Puzzle Game
2020 - Prize Dogs
2021 - Mallards in Flight
2022 - Horses
C900 - British Soldiers and Battles
C901 - Treasure Hunt
C902 - The Adoration of the Magi
F800 - Miss Willoughby
F801 - Lord Seaham as a Boy
M25 - Convergence
M27 - Disks of Newton
NoNbr - I Love You
PA20 - Little Red Riding Hood's Hood
PA21 - Snow White without the Seven Dwarfs
PA22 - Close-up of the Three Bears
SQ50 - Equivocation II

Robert Lewin Obituary
* Courtesy of Jerrella Keim

Robert L. Lewin, an American visionary, internationally recognized art, puzzle, and cookbook publishing pioneer, and the beloved founder of Mill Pond Press, died July 12, 2007, in Sarasota, FL. He was 96.

Born February 17, 1911, in Grand Rapids, MI, Robert Lewin was a lifelong nature lover. He was an Eagle Scout, and remained deeply committed to conservation, long before the cause came into vogue. Mill Pond Press in Venice, FL, the company he founded in 1973, became the world leader in the publication of limited edition fine art prints. The prints Mill Pond Press published depicted a broad range of subjects, most notably, wildlife art. This venture coupled his appreciation of art with his profound love of nature. Dr. Roger Tory Peterson, Sir Peter Scott, Keith Shackleton, Lars Lindblad and Robert Bateman were close friends and colleagues in the world of conservation.

When Robert Lewin was 62, he founded Mill Pond Press as a retirement project, ostensibly as something to do on a part-time basis. He wrote a letter to a friend in 1973, outlining his intentions: "I plan to get a small three-room office, probably in Venice, [FL] and will probably have a half-time secretary and go to the office from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., every day or some days." It quickly became a consuming interest.

Through his tireless commitment to contribute to wildlife conservation, he raised $10 million for conservation organizations such as The World Center for Birds of Prey/Peregrine Fund, The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Wildlife Habitat Canada, The National Wildlife Federation, and many more. He mainly accomplished this through the sale of Mill Pond Press special release limited edition prints.

With accomplishments like this, retirement would have to wait. Robert Lewin continued to work well into his 80s with irrepressible good humor and an unwavering sense of dedication. Looking back, he once recalled: "We never realized that the company was growing the way it did. We were just busy. We were happy with what we were doing. It never seemed to be work."

Among other best selling art books, Robert Lewin conceived the idea for Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures, published in 1987 by Harry N. Abrams.

In 1990, the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, WY, honored Robert Lewin with the prestigious Rungius Medal for his outstanding lifetime contributions to promote awareness about the protection of wildlife and habitat survival issues.

Robert Lewin served his country in WWII and the Korean conflict as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Service, and later as an aerial photographer/instructor.

Robert Lewin founded Springbok Editions, a successful jigsaw puzzle company. Springbok revolutionized the industry with the introduction of fine art as puzzle subjects. These subjects included work by Salvador Dali, Picasso, Matisse, Monet, and Jackson Pollack. To create Springbok in 1963, he licensed puzzle production technology from Waddingtons in the UK and introduced audiences in the U.S. to the round puzzle format. The round puzzle quickly became a signature concept for Springbok. Springbok puzzles were known for their exceptional quality and craftsmanship and transformed the world of puzzling overnight. The daring publication of a Jackson Pollack painting, Convergence, as a puzzle caused a sensation in 1964 Christmas gift markets. The Association of Game and Puzzle Collectors recognized both Robert & Katie Lewin in 2004 by presenting them with the Spilsbury Award For Lifetime Achievement.

He worked closely with Dr. Roger Tory Peterson who was the art director for the National Wildlife Federation, an early printing client. He continued to collaborate with Dr. Peterson on a myriad of projects over more than four decades. On Bob Lewin's 80th birthday Roger created a watercolor for his friend with the inscription "In celebration of your 80th! We have been dear friends and mutually productive for more than half our lives!"

Robert Lewin also found time to establish the Tested Recipe Institute in the 1950s, which operated from the penthouse at 42nd and Fifth in New York City. Known as the Kitchen in the Clouds, he published a limited line of cookbooks, which included many best-selling barbecue books. These were formatted to introduce men to the art of outdoor cooking; it was a concept that has evolved into an American tradition.

His generosity was legendary and his joie de vivre contagious. While at the helm of Mill Pond Press he is most remembered for his uncompromising integrity, generosity, and insistence on quality. He once flew his entire Mill Pond staff of more than 50 to Washington, D.C., for a Robert Bateman exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution.

A self-made man who rubbed elbows with princes and presidents, he remained selfless and modest, refusing personal publicity. He was a voracious reader; he enjoyed business histories and his daily companion, The New York Times.

An emeritus member of The Explorers Club, he traveled the globe widely taking his first plane ride over Lake Michigan in 1929 for a $5 fee, to the chagrin of his cash strapped mother. He was the oldest surviving member of the American Airlines Admirals Club.

As an inveterate traveler, if he declared something was "the best in the world," no one could dispute him. The things that delighted him he hailed as "absolutely marvelous!" Dark chocolate was possibly the most marvelous invention ever.

Services for Robert Lewin will be private. In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make donations in memory of Robert L. Lewin to The Peregrine Fund, 5668 West Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, ID 83709.

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