Jigsaw puzzles have a long and fascinating history, dating back centuries. The origins of jigsaw puzzles can be traced back to mapmakers in the late 18th century who used a technique called dissection to cut maps into pieces. These pieces were then mounted on wood and used as educational tools to teach geography.
However, the credit for inventing the jigsaw puzzle as we know it today goes to John Spilsbury, a British engraver and cartographer. In the 1760s, he created the first known jigsaw puzzle by mounting a map on a wooden board and cutting it into small pieces. This puzzle was primarily used for educational purposes.
The term "jigsaw" came later in the 19th century when fretsaws were used to cut wooden puzzles. These saws had slender and intricate blades that resembled the jigsaw tool used in carpentry. As a result, these puzzles became known as jigsaw puzzles.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, jigsaw puzzles gained popularity as a form of entertainment. They were initially made by hand, and wealthy families would commission artisans to create custom puzzles. However, advancements in manufacturing technologies made it possible to mass-produce jigsaw puzzles, making them more affordable and accessible to the general public.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, puzzles became even more popular as a low-cost form of entertainment. Many families would gather around the dining table to work on jigsaw puzzles together, providing a shared activity during difficult times.
In the mid-20th century, jigsaw puzzles saw a decline in popularity due to the rise of television and other forms of entertainment. However, they experienced a resurgence in the 2000s, with the introduction of computer software that allowed people to solve puzzles digitally. This led to the creation of online puzzle communities and a renewed interest in traditional jigsaw puzzles.
Today, jigsaw puzzles are enjoyed by people of all ages and are available in a wide variety of themes and difficulty levels. They offer not only a fun and challenging activity but also a way to relax, improve cognitive skills, and foster creativity.