The action of settling down to put together a jigsaw puzzle is a fairly common occurrence in today’s modern world. Almost everyone has either put one together or seen another person assemble a jigsaw puzzle. It’s easy to think that this popular past time has been around for thousands of years – when in truth, the jigsaw puzzle has only been around since the late eighteenth century.
Credited with the creation of the first jigsaw puzzle, John Spilsbury created his version of today’s popular hobby back in 1767. A successful mapmaker and engraver, he placed one of his maps on a sheet of hardwood and proceeded to cut out the counties. This new style of the map soon became a wildly successful educational toy to help children learn geography. As the years progressed, the jigsaw puzzle would help children learn not only about geography but also animals, plants, and a wide variety of other subjects.
While the jigsaw puzzle has been around since the eighteenth century, the actual term jigsaw wasn’t seen in widespread use until the late 1800s when the carpenters’ scroll saw, or the treadle saw, was first introduced. The introduction of the treadle saw, and the use of plywood sheets rather than hardwood soon made the creation process more comfortable and efficient, making the popular pastime available to a broader audience.
As the hobby became more popular, the public witnessed the evolution from saw-cut to die-cut tools in the production of puzzles. As this new process helped to reduce labor costs and easily allowed for mass production, it didn’t take long for this game to be a favorite pastime within communities.
Today you can find puzzles ranging in hundreds of thousands of topics and a multitude of sizes, with the current largest jigsaw puzzle in the world having 42,000 pieces and measuring in at over 24 x 5 feet! With its various levels of complexity and the ability to custom create a jigsaw puzzle from any image, there is little doubt that this popular pastime will disappear from the world anytime soon.