Hey, Puzzle People!
Today is the perfect day to bust out the puzzles and start separating the frame pieces—it’s National Puzzle Day! A great way to pass the time on a chilly day in January, people LOVE jigsaw puzzles. Strengthening visual acuity as well as pattern recognition, puzzles are advantageous in more than one way. They were originally designed as educational tools, actually.
First made in the 1760’s by a mapmaker from London, named John Spilsbury, one day he put one of his maps up on a sheet of hardwood and cut out the countries. Spilsbury immediately recognized the usefulness this could have for means of education. It didn’t take schools very long to catch on to the genius of teaching children their geography by having them put together puzzles.
I still remember learning my states and capitals with a simple puzzle-map of the United States. Somehow, placing the position of a state myself really locked its location in my memory. It was a great method by which to learn geography.
Jigsaw puzzles stayed true to their original purpose for nearly 60 years. It wasn’t until sometime around the 1820’s that puzzles started breaking free of their educational shell, and by the 1880’s, a different style of jigsaw puzzles arrived on the market. Up until this point, most puzzles were made on plywood with the image glued or painted on the front and the pencil tracings (to show where to cut) on the back.
The late 1800’s brought about a jigsaw puzzle that was constructed from cardboard—pretty much what we all think of when we think of a jigsaw puzzle. However, despite its eventual success, manufacturers predicted that wooden puzzles weren’t budging from their place on top and that customers wouldn’t want something as cheap as a cardboard puzzle.
Of course, the cardboard puzzles only sold for 25¢ while the wooden ones sold for $1.00 and, back in the days of The Great Depression, people were looking to spend as little as possible. Cardboard or not, puzzles offered inexpensive hours and hours of entertainment.
They still do today, which is all the more reason to get one out now! Happy Puzzle Day, Everyone. As always, thanks for reading!