In the meantime, I did manage to drag myself out to a few sales yesterday. I found a few things including this tray puzzle called "Dad's Puzzler" from 1953.
It reminded me of the plastic number or picture tray puzzles I played with as a kid that were a popular prize at carnivals. The difference being those were locked in place whereas "Dad's Puzzler" is loose in a box. You're trusted not to lift the pieces out while solving. It also reminded me of "Tableu I" by Piet Mondrian.
The object is to move the pieces from this position:
I always had a knack for the 4 x 4 square plastic tray puzzles I mentioned above, but after a few tries with this, I caved and looked at the solution.
Given the complexity of the solution, I think I would have been there a while (or eternity).
The first sliding puzzles known as the "15 Puzzle" date to the 1870's. Invented by a New York postmaster named Noyes Chapman and released commercially by a Boston woodworker named Matthias Rice, the puzzle became a sensation in 1880 causing a demand that exceeded production, foreshadowing the Rubik's Cube craze one-hundred years later. And like mobile devices today, companies then feared its distraction would result in loss of production on the job.
"Dad's Puzzle", also known as the "Pennant Puzzle" was invented in 1909 by Lewis Hardy. It introduced rectangular and differently-sized sliding pieces which made for a more difficult solution.
You can read more about the history of slide puzzles here.