We're going to produce a new product jigsaw puzzle. “Jigsaw” is an old game that challenges ingenuity. The puzzles are very helpful to the kids’ hands, eyes, brain and emotions. It helps the kids’ growth and development.
Jigsaw puzzles have a long story. It is generally agreed that the first jigsaw puzzle was produced around 1760 by John Spilsbury, a London engraver and mapmaker. Spilsbury mounted one of his maps on a sheet of hardwood and cut around the borders of the countries using a fine-bladed marquetry saw. The end product was an educational pastime, designed as an aid in teaching British children their geography. The idea caught on and, until about 1820, jigsaw puzzles remained primarily educational tools.
In 1880, with the introduction of the treadle saw, what had previously been known as dissections (not a word with particularly enjoyable connotations in our own time) came to be known as jigsaw puzzles, although they were actually cut by a fretsaw, not a true jigsaw. Towards the end of the century plywood came to be used. With illustrations glued or painted on the front of the wood, pencil tracings of where to cut were made on the back. These pencil tracings can still be found on some of these older jigsaw puzzles.
Cardboard puzzles were first introduced in the late 1800's, and were primarily used for children's puzzles. It was not until the 20th century that cardboard puzzles came to be die-cut, a process whereby thin strips of metal with sharpened edges - rather like a giant cookie-cutter - are twisted into intricate patterns and fastened to a plate. The "die" (which refers to this assembly of twisted metal on the plate) is placed in a press, which is pressed down on the cardboard to make the cut.
Thus, in the early 1900's, both wooden and cardboard jigsaw puzzles were available. Wooden puzzles still dominated, as manufacturers were convinced that customers would not be interested in "cheap" cardboard puzzles. Of course, a second motivation on the part of manufacturers and retailers of jigsaw puzzles was that the profit from a wooden puzzle, which might sell for $1.00, was far greater than for a cardboard jigsaw puzzle, which would usually sell for about 25¢.
The Golden Age of jigsaw puzzles came in the 1920s and 1930s with companies like Chad Valley and Victory in Great Britain and Einson-Freeman, Viking and others in the United States producing a wide range of puzzles reflecting both the desire for sentimental scenes, enthusiasm for the new technologies in rail and shipping.
Jigsaw puzzles are a pastime, and I will make no nobler claim for them. But they are a healthier pastime than watching inane (and occasionally vulgar) television shows or playing inane (and occasionally vulgar and/or violent) computer games. And if they are addictive - and they are - they are a harmless addiction.
Contact Person: Ms. Helena An