The History of Jigsaw Puzzles

The History of Jigsaw Puzzles

The History of Jigsaw Puzzles

Some of you would have only started to enjoy jigsaw puzzles over the last year or so and others would have been doing them for decades. In today’s blog we will take you back through the years to discover the history of jigsaw puzzles.

Where did it all begin?

Although it’s been thought that there has been some sort of jigsaw puzzle around since Archimedes time, the first time anyone ever came up with the idea of a Jigsaw as a sellable product/ toy was in the late 1700’s. In the 1760’s a cartographer named John Spilsbury was looking for new ways to help children become engaged with geography, when one day he came up with the idea of sticking a map of Europe to a wooden board and cutting around the countries. Not only was the first commercially sold puzzle created on that day, but it was to become the very first map jigsaw puzzle!

Map Jigsaw Puzzle

Spilsbury had great success with his map jigsaw puzzles and before long other manufacturers were cashing in on the idea, making historical themed jigsaws as well as their own map puzzles. In the late 1800’s the treadle saw was introduced to the manufacturing world, making it easier to cut interlocking pieces.


Up until the 1920’s most puzzles were wooden making them too expensive for a lot of families, but just as the great depression began the more affordable cardboard jigsaw puzzle came onto the market. The jigsaw puzzle took off as it became one of the only hobbies that people could afford to take part in.

By the time the 1930’s came along die cutting was bringing the cost of jigsaw puzzles down even further. Their popularity had risen so much that companies started to have jigsaw puzzles made of their advertising campaigns, giving them a captive audience while the person pieced it together.

Historical Jigsaw Puzzles


Jigsaw puzzles through the decades

Throughout the 30’s and 40’s people favoured very traditional jigsaws, choosing mainly art and scenic jigsaw puzzles. As technology moved and changed throughout the 50’s and 60’s, so did the themes of jigsaw puzzles. Modern cars, aeroplanes, books, and music puzzles became evermore popular with the more traditional style of painted image being replaced with photos and cartoons.


Beatles Jigsaw Puzzle

It seemed that as the decades went on, jigsaw puzzles were being aimed less at adults and more towards children. The traditional scenic jigsaws were still being made for adults, but the main market was taken up with kid’s jigsaws. Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s a large proportion of Children’s puzzles mainly featured photos of what was popular at the movies and on television.


seventies jigsaw puzzles

With games consoles gaining popularity in the 1990’s the growth of child’s jigsaws declined, and manufacturers began to look more to the adult jigsaw puzzle market again. Although traditional views and cottage jigsaw puzzles were still popular, the jigsaw companies wanted to offer adults something more fun and so by the late 90’s Jumbo had brought out it’s first ‘Wasgij’, the first style of puzzle that challenged you by not putting the image on the box.

 Wasgij Original Jigsaw Puzzle

The jigsaw puzzle market steadily carried on throughout the 2000’s giving us ever more new ways to puzzle, with challenges like our own ‘Impuzzibles’ range and ‘Murder Mystery’ jigsaws from University Games.

Giraffe - Impuzzible No. 32 - 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle


Jigsaw puzzles on the rise again

Then last year the world changed - people were confined to their homes, so what did they turn to? To occupy worried minds and pass the time, people turned to the good old jigsaw puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles have become one of the fastest growing markets over the last 12 months as ever more people discover the joy of piecing together a beautiful jigsaw. The fine art and landscape jigsaw puzzles are still as popular as they were back in the 1930’s, but with a new audience joining in the fun, more contemporary jigsaw puzzles with themes that are relevant today are becoming ever more desirable.

Diversity jigsaw 500 or 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about jigsaw puzzles through out the decades, maybe you even had a few of those old jigsaws when you were younger. If you want to continue taking a walk down memory lane, why not check out our decades jigsaw puzzle by clicking the image below.

 Decades Jigsaw Puzzles

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