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Jigsaw Puzzles

1018 of 1160 nominations

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Jigsaw Puzzles

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Jigsaw Puzzles

John Spilsbury, a London mapmaker and engraver, made the first jigsaw puzzle in about 1766 – you can go and see it for yourself in the British Library. Mr Spilsbury had the idea of cutting some of his maps into sections and then allowing his customers to reassemble them in the correct pattern. It was a fun way to teach children about geography. The maps he chose to market like this included a map of the world, but his maps only had four continents not six… Why? Well, Australia and Antarctica were not fully explored and charted until after Spilsbury’s maps were drawn! (Elsewhere on this site you will find information about Captain Cook who began to chart the East Coast of Australia on his sea voyage of 1770). The world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, 18,240 pieces that end up covering over 6ft by 9ft when completed, features four historical maps of the world. We do hope John Spilsbury would be pleased with what he started!

NOMINATION 1018 OF 1160

Your comments

Jigsaw puzzles have always struck me as a peculiarly English invention and indeed they do seem to have originated here, in c.1760, with John Spilsbury’s educational geography puzzles. As a nation we love these puzzles, particularly when they show attractive rural scenery of thatched cottages or Scotland in the snow or ships at sea. We also love jigsaws of iconic works of art like Constable’s Hay Wain. Icons within icons, icons of icons, as it were. Jigsaws are harmless and educational. Famous English jigsaw puzzle fanatics have included Doris Lessing, Georgette Heyer, Queen Elizabeth the Second, and my Auntie Phyl.

Margaret Drabble


...needs more information about John Spilsbury's invention.
Mindy


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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye

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