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The History of Jigsaw Puzzles

The History of Jigsaw Puzzles

Cast your mind back in time to the 1760’s, your name is John Spilsbury and you are an engraver and a map maker.  You call England your home and you are an apprentice to the royal cartographer under King George the Third.  Life is simple many toys and games are made from wood and there are not too many to choose from.  Children’s publishing is starting to grow, and education is done in small schools with limited visual aids.

As eager young man in 1766 John comes up with the idea to mount a map on a piece of timber and dissect it as an educational tool to teach children about geography.  He called it a dissected map. Sadly, John passed away in 1769 at the age of 29.  He was not aware of just how popular his idea would become in the future.  His wife successfully continued on the business. 

The term jigsaw puzzle did not become the applied to puzzles until early 1900’s and today jigsaw puzzles are a global phenomenon.  In 2020 jigsaw puzzle popularity surged as the world struggled through the COVID 19 pandemic. 

Let’s look at some fun facts about jigsaw puzzles!

According to the Guinness Book of records:

The largest number of pieces in a puzzle was 551,232 and was completed by 1,600 students in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam in 2011

The largest puzzle completed underwater had an area of 168 square metres by Dubai in 2013

The largest collection of jigsaw puzzles consists of 1,047 different sets, and was achieved by Luiza Figueiredo (Brazil) in São Paulo in 2017

Other fun facts include:

You can holiday in the Asisan, Tagaytay City Philippines and visit the puzzle mansion bed and breakfast which hosts over 1000 jigsaw puzzles

US sideshow performer “The Enigma” (Paul Lawrence) has the surface of his body divided by tattoos into 2,123 jigsaw pieces

In 2010 and then remade in 2018 the movie Puzzle which takes a suburban housewife to delve into the world of jigsaw puzzle tournaments

The Rolling Stones released a song called Jigsaw Puzzle in 1968

In the horror movie franchise Saw, Jigsaw was the name of the serial killer, so popular that the character jigsaw was featured in his own movie

Each year there is a puzzle day normally in late January