The Origins of Puzzles 

We love puzzles for the fun they provide and the beautiful artwork they feature. As we were putting the last pieces into our latest puzzle we stopped to long have people been puzzling over these tiny jigsaw pieces that fit so beautifully together?

Thanks to Wikipedia we found out some interesting puzzle facts.

Puzzles are Invented

The first puzzle was made in 1762 by John Spilsbury, a map engraver. His goal was to help students learn geography. He mounted one of his maps on wood and cut around the countries. 

Vintage puzzle. The origins of puzzles and where they came from.

This first jigsaw puzzle was enthusiastically received. The idea was copied by other people using not just maps but religious scenes and farms. At this time, they weren’t called jigsaw puzzles, they were known as Dissected Puzzles. The name jigsaw puzzle came about in 1880 with the invention of the specialty jigsaw. 

In the mid-1800’s jigsaw puzzles became popular with adults in addition to children. By the end of the 1800s, their growth in popularity increased due to the sophistication of lithographic printing, and the invention of plywood and the jigsaw.

Victorian Era Puzzling: The Whimsy Puzzle

The Victorian era brought about some changes that made puzzles more challenging, including the whimsy shapes. This was the cutting of shapes into something related to the puzzle. For example, if a puzzle was a picture of flowers, the pieces could be cut into flower shapes. 

Victorian age puzzles, the origins of puzzles.

Inexpensive Entertainment and Souvenirs

The 1930s, during the Great Depression, when puzzles really became popular. They were an inexpensive and fun way to enjoy some entertainment and creativity in an otherwise hard time.

Puzzles also became a marketing tool for companies to promote their products and services. In particular cruise liners and trains, including their destinations were made into puzzles. Souvenir puzzles sold on cruise-liners were postcard sized and fun to collect.

A fun fact is that the first puzzles didn’t come in a box with an image, therefore making a puzzle was an even greater challenge. It’s not until the 1930s that they were packaged in boxes. Prior to this time, having an image of the completed puzzle would be seen as cheating.

Cardboard and Beyond...

The puzzles, made of cardboard that we know and love today, were first introduced during World War II. Plywood became scarce so the alternative material was thin, lower quality cardboard. Over time, the quality of the cardboard was improved as were the printing techniques and packaging.

The origins of puzzles.

At Paper Papier, we offer beautiful puzzles for your puzzling pleasure. They are extremely popular and we have trouble keeping them in stock!