Who Invented Jigsaws?
Jigsaw puzzles are something that you will find in pretty much every home and certainly every charity shop in the country. There are whole isles dedicated to them in toy stores and online retailers that specialise in nothing but jigsaws. Plus they make great gifts for everyone from toddlers to grandparents. So how did the humble jigsaw come about.
If you love a good jigsaw puzzle then you might be interested to know that the man credited with creating the first jigsaw puzzle was John Spilsbury in around 1760. A mapmaker and engraver he printed maps onto wood and cut them into pieces. However, they weren't called jigsaw puzzles straight away, instead, they were called dissected maps.
These maps were cut along country lines and became a popular teaching tool for children. The first wooden puzzle made by Ravensburger was the “geographical puzzle” and map puzzles are still popular today. You can find a great range of puzzles depicting different parts of the world.
Of course as with anything there are other contenders to the crown and it’s quite possible that Spilsbury was not in fact the first person to invent the jigsaw. But this does seem to be the generally agreed upon consensus.
The term jigsaw didn’t come about for another hundred years or more and is associated with the tool used to make the puzzles. Although how they are made today has changed quite a bit.
A bit more of the history of jigsaws
Jigsaws became popular with adults in the 1900’s. Still expensive to produce they were mostly an upper-class pursuit. But over time improved manufacturing methods and the introduction of cardboard as a material instead of wood made them more affordable and thus available to the masses.
Jigsaws saw a huge rise in popularity in the US during the depression of the 1930's. They became an inexpensive form of escape and weekly puzzles were sold in newsagents across the country. Puzzles were also used for advertising and given away for free by retailers.
Wooden puzzles remained popular as a premium product but saw a decline after the second world war when rising wages made them prohibitively expensive to produce.
Fun Fact: Did you know that a person who enjoys completing jigsaw puzzles is called a dissectologist?
Jigsaw puzzles today have come along way from the dissected maps of the 1770's. Yet they remain both a popular educational tool for children and a pastime for adults.
Not only are jigsaw puzzles educational and fun, but they also have lots of other benefits. Jigsaws are relaxing and offer a great way to unwind. They also require you to use the left and right hemispheres of the brain at the same time creating connections that help with memory and recall. Plus they improve hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills while requiring patience and perseverance to complete.