🧩Throughout the history of puzzles, how did it become a popular pastime?

Step into the world of puzzles

Completing a jigsaw puzzle is an ideal way to relieve stress. Keep your hands busy and build something beautiful. These complex games are made up of hundreds, even thousands, of unique interlocking pieces and come in countless designs and varying difficulty levels.


While jigsaw puzzles are often seen as a leisure activity, their origins are rooted in education and geography. Here, we explore the history of jigsaw puzzles and see how this activity became a popular pastime for children and adults alike.

 The Early History of Jigsaw Puzzles

The Early History of Jigsaw Puzzles

"The Division of Europe into Kingdoms", John Spilsbury, 1766.

The first commercial jigsaw puzzle was developed by English cartographer and engraver John Spilsbury around 1760. He fastened a map of Europe to hardwood and used a saw to cut along the borders of the countries. These prototypes became known as "anatomical maps" and were used as educational tools to teach children geography.


Spilsbury saw the popularity of the first jigsaw puzzles and sensed a business opportunity, so he created eight geographically themed world jigsaw puzzles: Europe, Asia, Africa, America, England and Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. These early puzzles were popular among wealthy families, including the British royal family.

How Jigsaw Puzzles Became Popular

 How Jigsaw Puzzles Became Popular

During the Second Industrial Revolution, puzzle making improved significantly. Lithographic printing technology allowed puzzle makers to transfer higher quality prints to wooden surfaces, and they began to use hardwoods (such as redwood) and plywood to produce puzzles. This made the material lighter, cheaper, and easier to cut. In addition, the invention of the pedal saw allowed manufacturers to create more complex interlocking pieces at a faster rate.


When the Great Depression hit America in 1929, jigsaw puzzles experienced a huge thing: a surge in popularity. Instead of producing jigsaw puzzles out of wood, American companies began mass-producing cardboard puzzles using a new method — die-cutting. This significantly reduced the cost of jigsaw puzzles. At a time when most families couldn’t afford expensive entertainment, jigsaw puzzles provided a recyclable form of entertainment.


Over time, cardboard puzzles became the dominant product, while the older wooden puzzles became a relatively rare product.