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History of Jigsaws

history of jigsaws

Jigsaw puzzles are popular among adults and children. They can be found in every home and even in charity shops in all countries. Even toy stores have isles solely dedicated to them. There are also online retailers that specialize in jigsaws puzzles only. But how did they come about?

Early Beginnings

John Spilsbury, who was a mapmaker and engraver, is often credited as the person who created the first jigsaw puzzle. He printed maps onto wood and would cut them along country lines into pieces. They were known as dissected maps back then. These wonderful invention became popular teaching tools for geography.

Like many other things, some people argue that Spilsbury was not the first person to come up with the idea of the jigsaw puzzle and it’s quite possible that he took inspiration from other people’s work. Nevertheless, the general consensus seems to agree that he’s invented the jigsaw puzzle that we all know and love today.

People did not use the term jigsaw puzzles until a century or so later when the first jigsaw puzzle was created using the tool it’s associated with.

Ravensburger created the first wooden puzzle called “geographical puzzle”. These map puzzles are still popular today. You can find many of these puzzles online and at toy stores.

History tidbits

In the 1900’s, jigsaw puzzles became widely popular. They were mostly an upper-class pursuit as they were so expensive to produce. But over the course of time, these puzzles were made affordable with the advancement of manufacturing process and the introduction of cardboard as a material replacing wood.

Jigsaw puzzles became more popular, especially in the US during the 1930s depression. These puzzles were people’s inexpensive form of escape. Newsagents even sell weekly puzzles across the country. Some retailers even gave away puzzles for free. Some puzzles were even used for advertising.

Wooden puzzles remained popular for a while but saw a sharp decline in demand after WW2. During these times, rising wages and production costs caused making wooden puzzles prohibitively expensive.

Modern Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles have endured the test of time and came a long way from the dissected maps of 1770s. They have become part of our culture and remained popular among adults and children due to the benefits they offer, which is something that other toys could not match.

Puzzles are more than just fun educational tools.They have other benefits too. Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to relieve stress and keep our brain sharp. They have a meditative effect that most people find relaxing and uplifting. They also offer a certain level of complexity, flexibility and challenge other toys can’t. Most puzzles can be enjoyed either solo or with other people. It’s no wonder why you can still find puzzles in most homes. They offer a wholesome fun and entertainment for the entire family to enjoy.

Fun Fact: Dissectologist refers to a person who enjoys completing jigsaw puzzles.

RELATED: How Jigsaws are Made

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