History Of Jigsaw Puzzles

Written by Charles Peacock
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Most of us have enjoyed putting together a good jigsaw puzzle at least once in our lives, but few people actually know the history of these fun little puzzles. Interestingly, the name "jigsaw puzzle" actually derives from the fact that the puzzles were once cut out of pieces of wood using wood jigsaws. Jigsaw puzzles have come a long way since those early days however, and they now represent a true worldwide phenomenon.

The History of Jigsaw Puzzles

The very first jigsaw puzzles came about in Europe in the 18th century, and were made of maps that had been cut into pieces along the borders of different countries. These puzzles were originally intended as a tool for teaching geography. It wasn't until decades later that people got the idea to use jigsaw puzzles strictly for entertainment purposes.

By the turn of the 20th century, jigsaw puzzles had spread outside their native Britain and had become extremely popular in the United States. Puzzles in those days were quite difficult: they did not have the recognizable interlocking pieces of today's jigsaws, so a gust of wind (or even a sneeze!) could ruin a whole afternoon's work. In addition, many puzzle pieces were cut along color lines, so you didn't have the benefit of matching pieces according to color transitions.

In the early days, making puzzles was very labor intensive. This meant that jigsaws were too expensive for the average worker, and were enjoyed primarily by members of high society. All of this changed with the advent of die-cut cardboard puzzles in the 1930s, which made puzzles affordable enough for the masses.

Since the early days of puzzles, we've all grown up with fond memories of doing a challenging puzzle on a rainy day, or while we're recovering from illnesses that may have kept us home from school. Wooden puzzles are a link to our childhoods, and a way we can share some of our memories with our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of today. Puzzles that are well-crafted will stand the test of time and be passed down from generation to generation.


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