Sudbury Hall NT

Sudbury Hall NT

Puzzles galore

Jigsaws, jigsaws, jigsaws…the Museum of Childhood has got over 200 of them in the collection, ranging from simple wooden puzzles for small children to cardboard jigsaws of over 1000 pieces, and dissected map puzzles to 3D wooden ships!


The origins of the jigsaw puzzle dates back to around 1760 when aLondonmapmaker, John Spilsbury, mounted a map of theBritish Empireonto hardwood and cut around the borders of the countries to create a dissected map. This was used as an educational tool to teach children their geography.


The name ‘jigsaw puzzle’ did not come into use until about 1880 when the introduction of a treadle saw, called a ‘jigsaw’, enabled interlocking pieces to be cut from hardwood and plywood.


The modern cardboard jigsaw puzzle became commonplace after the introduction of die-cutting in the early 1900’s, a process by which an intricate pattern of metal strips were pressed down on the cardboard to make the cut. This process allowed puzzles to be more intricate and difficult, thus appealing to adults, as well as children.


Jigsaws have retained their popularity to this day, as a pastime for both adults and children, and as an educational tool.


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