ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Games, Toys, and Hobbies»
  • Puzzles, Logic Problems & Brain Teasers

Who Invented the Jigsaw Puzzle and Other Interesting Facts?

Updated on September 11, 2016
beverley byer profile image

Beverley Byer has been writing on- and offline for a number of years. Her work has been published in magazines and newspapers.

jigsaw puzzle piece
jigsaw puzzle piece

I think we all know what a jigsaw puzzle is: odd-shaped pieces of material you assemble or interlock to create the accommodating picture. Original jigsaw puzzles were made from hardwoods such as cedar and mahogany. John Spilbury, a British cartographer, began gluing maps unto hardwood veneers before cutting them along the borders of the countries and regions with a handsaw to create pieces. This was in the 1760s. His puzzles became such an important learning tool for geography students; he was commissioned to make more. Though jigsaw puzzle-making required money, time, and a great deal of effort, Spilbury made and sold hundreds of them. These early models were called dissected puzzles or simply dissections.

Jigsaw puzzles soon expanded to the community at-large. Subject matter moved beyond geography to poetry, popular children’s stories such as David Copperfield, Biblical verses, and portraits of British monarchs. William Denton was a jigsaw puzzle maker who specialized in the latter. By the 1800s, these puzzles and puzzle-making reached the Americas. The scroll saw and color lithography were also invented in that era so, they began to look brighter and better. In the 1840s, softer woods were used. In the 1890s with the invention of die-cutting, jigsaw puzzles started being mass produced. This led to the interlocking method which made them much easier to maintain.

Enter the 1900s and in particular, the period of the Great Depression which was the 1920s to 1930s. Jigsaw puzzle-making was at its height. Cardboard was now being used so, they were less costly and adults were assembling them in earnest. They had become great stress-relievers and something for people to do to past the time or to forget about hunger and unemployment. It is believed that puzzles were being sold at the rate of about one million per week. Additionally, drugstores and other companies were giving them away as promotional tools for products as toothpaste, sewing machines, and coffee. Libraries too got into the act and were renting them quite cheaply. Fall of 1932 saw the development of weekly jigsaw puzzles.

From the 1940s and beyond, subject matter really expanded as well as the types of material, complexity, picture quality, size, and shape. For example, think of any theme today and you are sure to find it as a jigsaw puzzle. Materials used to create them included wood, cardboard, Styrofoam, plastic, and metal. A jigsaw puzzle could be simple with 234 pieces or complex with 32,000 plus pieces. As a matter of fact, a 32,256-piece jigsaw puzzle made by German company, Ravensburger, officially holds the Guinness world record for the largest commercial jigsaw puzzle ever made. Titled “Double Retrospect,” it weighed 37.7 pounds and measured 17 feet 8 inches by 6 feet 5 inches high. The 234-piece puzzle was deemed the smallest at 4 by 6 inches and was made by illustrator, William Vanderdasson (though leading Swedish jigsaw puzzle company, Karnan is said to have created a smaller wooden one measuring 2.6 inches by 2.6 inches).

The most difficult jigsaw puzzle was made by a company called Buffalo Games, located in Buffalo, New York. They started making puzzles in 1996. This complex, double-sided jigsaw is called Dalmatians. It has 529 pieces and measures 15 by 15 inches. Other types of jigsaw puzzles include 3-dimensional, large-piece for seniors, and puzzles on the Internet. Regarding number of pieces, the average number per box is 300, 500, 750, and 1,000. The latter is the most popular.

A timeline of notable manufacturers include Parker Brothers, 1887; Platt & Munk, 1920s; JK Strauss & Whitman, 1930s; Playtime House, 1940s; Ravensburger, 1964, and Wrebbit and Heyes, 2001. In 2007, Nashville Game Company based in Tennessee began making ethnic jigsaw puzzles, especially featuring the accomplishments of African-Americans such as George Carver, Harriet Tubman, PresidentBarack Obama, and even Michael Jackson. They are the only major manufacturer filling the void of minorities not being featured in jigsaw puzzles scenes.

Jigsaw puzzles are currently made in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, China, and Australia. Though it is tough for most people break down a jigsaw puzzle once it is assembled, I remember having great enjoyment from the process as a child. Today, jigsaws continue to be stress-relievers and tools for socialization. They also help develop hand-eye coordination and are a perfect aid for Alzheimer’s patients.

The word, jigsaw is said to have derived from the jigsaw which was invented in 1909 and used to cut the puzzle into pieces.

What size jigsaw puzzle do you prefer to assemble?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • beverley byer profile image
      Author

      Beverley Byer 4 years ago from United States of America

      Thank you, Sharkye11. Yep, must've been tough by hand. But if they enjoyed the process, well...

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very interesting hub! Jigsaw puzzles are fun, but I can't imagine making them all by hand with a saw!

    • Photo Puzzle Guy profile image

      Photo Puzzle Guy 5 years ago

      Jigsaw Puzzles have been around for a long time and are still as addictive today as they have always been. I run a Jigsaw Puzzle manufacturing company and the funny thing is that the way of producing puzzles has not really changed that much over the last 100 years. Sure, you now have online puzzles that you do on the computer but some would say that without the physical touch and satisfaction of fitting the final piece, online puzzles are just not as much fun.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)