Where were jigsaw puzzles invented?

Where were jigsaw puzzles invented?

In 1762, a map engraver named John Spilsbury from London revolutionised the world of puzzles. He took one of his meticulously crafted maps and mounted it onto a wooden board. With careful precision, he cut around the borders of each country, creating individual pieces. Spilsbury's gave them to local school children to help them in geography lessons. Little did he know that he was about to invent a new form of entertainment - the jigsaw puzzle.


Spilsbury's creation quickly gained popularity and others began to replicate and expand upon his concept. Soon, jigsaw puzzles were no longer limited to maps. They began to feature various educational images, such as farms and religious scenes. During this time, they were called ‘dissected puzzles’. It wasn’t until the 1880s that they became known as jigsaw puzzles, when the saw that was used to cut them - the jigsaw was invented. 


While initially popular among children, jigsaw puzzles started to captivate adults as well in the mid-1800s. This shift can be seen in puzzles like the Star of the West, which depicted scenes more suited for grown-ups.


The late 1800s marked a period of rapid growth for jigsaw puzzles, thanks to three key factors. First, advancements in lithographic printing techniques allowed for higher quality prints on wood, showcasing intricate details and vibrant colors. Second, the introduction of plywood made it easier and more affordable to cut intricate shapes. Finally, the invention of the treadle jigsaw enabled puzzle makers to create even more complex designs in less time.


Back to blog