History of Jigsaw Puzzles

History of Jigsaw Puzzles

All of us would have assembled jigsaw puzzles. At least once in our life time or at least seen others assemble a jigsaw puzzle. Jigsaw puzzle is one of the most favorite pastimes across the world. The history of jigsaw puzzles goes back as far as eighteenth century. The first jigsaw puzzle was created by John Spilsbury in London.

Originally, jigsaw puzzles remained an educational tool or aid to elicit the interest of the children on various subjects. John Spilsbury was a mapmaker and an engraver. He created his first jigsaw using one of his maps. The map was mounted on a sheet of hardwood and he created a puzzle by cutting out the countries. This was used to teach children geography. The term jigsaw puzzles came to use only after 1880s. In 1880, treadle saw was introduced. By the end of the century, to make the process easy, plywood sheets were used rather than hardwood. Today’s die cut puzzles were not known in those days. The illustration was either painted on the plywood or glued on the front surface and the pictures were traced at the back for the cutting process. If you are lucky enough to find some of the oldest jigsaw puzzles, you will be able to see these pencil tracings.