The History of Jigsaw Puzzles: From John Spilsbury to Today

Joe Rushton
The History of Jigsaw Puzzles: From John Spilsbury to Today
Jigsaw puzzles are a beloved pastime that has captured the hearts of millions of people around the world. But have you ever wondered how this popular game came to be? In this blog post, we'll take a look at the history of jigsaw puzzles, starting with their invention in the mid-18th century by John Spilsbury, and how they have evolved to become the fun and challenging games we know and love today.

The Invention of Jigsaw Puzzles by John Spilsbury

In 1767, London cartographer John Spilsbury created the first jigsaw puzzle as an educational tool. He took a map and glued it onto a piece of wood, then cut it into small pieces along the borders of the countries. The idea was to teach geography to children by having them reassemble the pieces of the map.

Spilsbury's invention was a hit, and soon other educational puzzles followed. These early puzzles were made from wood, and the pieces were cut by hand with a fretsaw. They were expensive to produce, and only the wealthy could afford to buy them.

The Rise of Jigsaw Puzzles in the 20th Century

By the early 20th century, advances in technology allowed jigsaw puzzles to be produced more cheaply and in greater quantities. Cardboard replaced wood as the primary material, and machines replaced hand tools for cutting the pieces.

During the Great Depression, jigsaw puzzles became even more popular as a cheap and entertaining form of indoor entertainment. Companies such as Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley produced puzzles featuring popular characters, celebrities, and scenic landscapes.

Jigsaw Puzzles in 2023

Today, jigsaw puzzles are as popular as ever, and the market has expanded to include puzzles for all ages and skill levels. From children's puzzles with just a few large pieces to adult puzzles with thousands of pieces, there is a puzzle for everyone.

They have seen a huge surge in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people were looking for indoor activities to pass the time.

Jigsaw puzzles have come a long way since their invention by John Spilsbury in 1767. From expensive wooden educational tools to affordable cardboard entertainment for all ages, jigsaw puzzles have become a beloved pastime around the world. With advances in technology and the rise of online communities, the future of jigsaw puzzles looks bright. So why not grab a puzzle and join in on the fun and challenging game that has been entertaining people for centuries?

Here at the Yorkshire Jigsaw Store we are a relative newcomer to the jigsaw scene having started the business in 2014 with a 100 puzzle titles. Things have grown and grown since then and we now have over 2500 different puzzles titles and over 12,000 in stock. As a proud Yorkshire family business with a small team we take great pride in proving fantastic service to our customers and stock all the latest puzzles from manufacturers around the world.
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