A Brief History of Jigsaw Puzzles

Almost everyone encounters a jigsaw puzzle at one point or another in their childhood. They’re so much a part of our society that you may have even taken them for granted and preferred other forms of entertainment like video games – depending on when you were born, of course.

Puzzles mean a little more to us than everyone else here at Craft Carve. When you spend most of your days crafting puzzle piece stools, you gain a new appreciation for the puzzle itself and how it became such an important part of the fabric of our society.

In light of that, here is a brief history of puzzles – the toy we can always rely on to entertain us, even when the power goes out.

Puzzles Come From Puzzling Beginnings

No one knows the exact origin of the original puzzle, but we can trace their existence back for centuries. Historians say that there’s evidence of puzzles existing during the times of Ancient Egypt and Greece as far back as 2300 B.C. After that, we see accounts of puzzles and games start to pop up throughout Ancient Chinese culture over 1,000 years later, in 1000 B.C.

The next big milestone in our history of puzzles comes another 800 years later, in the year 200 B.C. The famous Greek mathematician, Archimedes, begins to use puzzles to solve the complex geometric and mathematical challenges of the time and would later create his own puzzle called Archimedes’ Box.

The Familiar Jigsaw Puzzle

While these “games” of Antiquity were considered puzzles, the puzzle as we know it took a little longer to develop. The first jigsaw puzzles didn’t pop onto the radar until the 18th century.

In 1767, a mapmaker by the name of John Stilsbury got the idea to make some changes to a map he was engraving. He took the traditional map and carved around the perimeter of each of the countries with a knife. Once done, he glued each of those engraved pieces onto wood. All of these “pieces” fit together to reassemble the original map and, thus, the puzzle was born.

Still, these puzzles weren’t “jigsaw puzzles” as we know them today, mostly because the jigsaw hadn’t been invented yet. At this point in their history, puzzles were referred to as dissected puzzles. It wasn’t until 1880, when the jigsaw was invented and used to cut the pieces, that they became known as jigsaw puzzles.

The puzzle’s role in society

Puzzles were originally for educational purposes. Children would put together the pieces of maps to learn geography as they progressed through their schooling. We still see this trend today and simpler children’s puzzles of the U.S. map are still a very popular gift.

Eventually, puzzles would start to be seen as a form of entertainment. This trend traces back until around 1820, but puzzles still weren’t largely accessible at this time.

It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century (the year 1900) that we begin to see the popularity of puzzles really take off. Americans relied on puzzles as a way to spend time together and take their mind off of things during the depression. From there, puzzles grew to where they are today – a staple in the “game closets” of homes around the globe.

From Jigsaw Puzzle to Toy Puzzle Stool

Without the invention and rise of the jigsaw puzzle, things would look very different. You probably wouldn’t be reading this blog, and Craft Carve probably wouldn’t be here.

Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of John Spilsbury and the great minds of Antiquity, we don’t have to consider what a world without puzzles would be like. These trailblazers make it possible for the Craft Carve team to make an impact providing today’s children with high-quality puzzle piece stools that can last them a lifetime.

Contact us today to get started building a custom toy puzzle stool for the special child in your life.

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