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How did the humble jigsaw puzzle start its long and enduring life.
Jigsaws have been around for a long time, since somewhere in the 1760s when a London mapmaker first cut up one of his maps to teach kids geography. I was walking around the bookshop the other day and there on the wall were the very same jigsaw puzzles. Maps with the countries as pieces. So that teaching idea has survived the test of time.

Since then jigsaws have come a long way, but they are still a game for kids both old and young who love to play them. 

Of course with the computer we now have any number of jigsaws, with any number

of pieces available with click of the mouse.

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Jigsaws have followed the industrial progression of mankind. The technological advances of the day have showed themselves in the humble jigsaw.

The popularity of jigsaws started to take off with the Industrial Revolution. As mankind advanced and invented more things the jigsaw changed to reflect these new inventions.

We could actually start off with the saw. Somebody invented the trundle saw back in the 1880s and that little invention changed the face of jigsaws forever. As

the saw improved so did the jigsaw. Now we have ended up with the die cut, a massive giant cookie cutter that punches out the puzzle.

Another invention at the turn of the century that had a remarkable effect on the jigsaw was plywood. This changed the face of jigsaws. They used to paste or paint the picture on the hard surface of the plywood.

Even now, when you look at a antique jigsaw puzzle you can still see the pencil lines on the back of the plywood where they drew the pattern of the shapes before they were cut out. 

This downsizing to something more manageable actually got better with the invention of cardboard which happened a short after plywood came along.

Now about this time there were two significant inventions to do with jigsaws. Both are still around today. 

Specifically cut pieces were introduced. Pieces shaped into things like people doing things or animal pieces or butterfly pieces. 

These pieces looked very different from the standard piece but they were still part of the puzzle. These made it easier to put the puzzle together. Instead of starting with the edges you could start with one of these know shapes like people pushing prams or cigarettes or what ever.

Even now, when I was in Japan I brought a Disney cartoon jigsaw, I actually brought two, very expensive. In the ‘The Lion King’ jigsaw puzzle they had
pieces shaped like antelopes, elephant, giraffe, and a hippo scattered throughout the jigsaw puzzle. 

Then the ‘Bambi’ one, had deer and raccoon and butterflies and birds. All these lovely shaped pieces made up the pieces in the puzzle. That idea is still around now, yet it first come out in early the nineteen hundreds.

There were about 10 specially shaped pieces in each puzzle.

Anyway I'll leave this here and continue with the fascinating life of the jigsaw puzzle later on.

Article by © Peter Legrove 2006, at www.animalsdinosaursandbugs.com     

**You have permission to reprint this article. Use it on your website, in your ezine or newsletter or in any printed form. The only requirement is to include the footnote at the base of the article and not change the wording**

 

 

 

 

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