In essence, a free jigsaw puzzle is a copy of a tiling puzzle. It is made up of a number of tessellating, interconnected, and frequently unusually formed elements. Every component has its own miniature graphic. When all the pieces are put together, free jigsaw puzzles create the full image. More complex puzzles, such as round jigsaws and those that reflect optical illusions, are available on the market nowadays.
If you want to learn more about jigsaw puzzles, keep on reading this guide.
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The History of Jigsaw Puzzles
Around 1760, John Spilsbury, a London-based engraver and mapmaker, invented the “jigsaw puzzle.” The borders of each country were carved out of a piece of hardwood and laid over one of Spilsbury’s maps. The jigsaw puzzle as we know it today was born at this time. Spilsbury’s puzzle was an instant hit as a teaching aid and ruled the market for more than 50 years. Other creators quickly started making their own variants. They seem to have been advertised largely as teaching resources for geography.
In Europe and America, the first “dissected maps” didn’t exist until the middle of the nineteenth century. Instead of using pieces with nation or area shapes, these puzzles used polygonal shapes. Jigsaw puzzles truly found its place in the world of toys when polygons took the place of nations.
The new dissected maps were more carefully constructed than the prior puzzles, despite the fact that some of them still had an educational aspect. Younger gamers found them to be less instructive and more fun.
Why Are They Called “Jigsaw Puzzles”?
Since it doesn’t appear that jigsaw puzzle pieces have ever been cut using jigsaw puzzles, it’s not as easy as you might think. The words “dissected maps” or “dissections” were later superseded by treadle fretsaws, which were used to carve puzzles prior to the 1880s. The name stuck and is still used even though a fretsaw is not a jigsaw.
When Did Jigsaw Puzzles First Gain Popularity?
Actually, jigsaw puzzles didn’t really take off as a popular pastime until the first decades of the 20th century. Puzzles spread and had a larger variety of designs as major businesses like Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley entered the puzzle market.
As one might anticipate, when the Great Depression struck, individuals could no longer afford the pricier hardwood jigsaw puzzles but still needed entertainment to get them through the difficult times. Because they were more affordable and socially acceptable at this point, sales of cardboard puzzles really took off.
Puzzles suddenly became considerably more economical with the development of the die-cutting technique, which acts as a big cookie cutter and permits the mass production of cardboard puzzles. Since they were inexpensive to make and knowing they would have a captive audience while families spent hours putting the puzzle together, many businesses used jigsaw puzzles as a form of advertisement. Even today, it’s common to paste images of odd meals, vehicles, and other objects into puzzles.