Many generations have enjoyed playing jigsaw puzzles over the centuries. They remain a staple year after year. You’ll find these interesting and strange facts fun if you’re a fan of jigsaw puzzles.
It is a common misconception that all jigsaw puzzles are cut the same way. On the contrary, many kinds of puzzles are made of different materials, themed differently, and even challenging in different ways.
We hope that this overview of the world of jigsaw puzzles will give you some exciting insights. After reading all of these amazing facts, you will have lots to discuss with your friends.
These are 35+ facts about Jigsaw Puzzles:
1. Jigsaw puzzles originated in the 18th century.
It’s believed English engraver John Spilsbury created the first jigsaw puzzle around 1760, and teachers used it to teach geography.
2. The first jigsaw puzzle was a map.
John Spilsbury had no idea that he would be creating a game that lasted for so many generations when he made his first dissected map. After mounting his map on hardwood, he cut around the borders of the countries with a fine-bladed marquetry saw.
3. They only started to be widely produced in the 20th century.
The mass production of jigsaw puzzles started with the invention of die-cut machines. Metal dies for each piece were pressed down on sheets of cardboard and softwoods.
4. Jigsaw puzzles were once a luxury item.
Although you can find cheap ones today, only wealthy families owned a jigsaw puzzle at the beginning of the 19th century. They’re made of mahogany and used as an educational tool.
5. Jigsaw puzzles are named after a saw.
It’s believed manufacturers used a saw called a jigsaw to cut the puzzle pieces. The tool was invented in the 1880s.
6. Manufacturers didn’t believe in cardboard jigsaw puzzles.
In the 1900s, manufacturers and retailers preferred wooden puzzles. They thought customers would not be interested in ‘cheap’ cardboard puzzles. But also, they were worried that their profit would drop.
7. Sales sky-rocketed during the Great Depression.
Puzzles became popular when the Great Depression hit in 1929, with sales reaching 10 million per week in early 1933. While the unemployment rate was rising above 25 percent, puzzles provided a sense of accomplishment and an escape during difficult times.
8. Convergence was the most challenging jigsaw puzzle.
In 1964, puzzle-producing company, Springbok Editions, released Convergence, a jigsaw puzzle inspired by Jackson Pollock’s painting. According to the manufacturers themselves, the 340-piece puzzle was considered “the world’s most difficult puzzle.” Thousands of Americans had a hard time solving this puzzle.
9. They help people relax.
Some people feel like jigsaw puzzles can be like meditation because you don’t sense time passing by. However, puzzles also distract your mind from your problems and require you to be present and focused on the task.
10. There’s a museum dedicated to jigsaw puzzles in the Philippines.
The Puzzle Mansion is located in Tagaytay, Cavite, Philippines, and hosts a vast collection of jigsaw puzzles.
11. They are used as advertising.
Some companies started using jigsaw puzzles as promotional pieces. For example, some retail stores offered a free puzzle to purchase certain products to make brand names known.
12. People who play with jigsaw puzzles might live longer and experience less memory loss.
Research shows that jigsaw puzzles improve cognitive outcomes in both children and adults. In addition, it notes that jigsaw puzzles can help people live healthier, and thus longer, and improve their memory.
13. There are jigsaw puzzles designed specifically for people who have Alzheimer’s.
The puzzle company Springbok created a jigsaw puzzle specifically to offer a cognitive exercise. The 36-piece puzzle improves memory and brain function in those who have dementia and Alzheimer’s.
14. There’s a global competition for jigsaw puzzles.
The World Jigsaw Puzzle Championship is held every year.
15. People are streaming themselves doing puzzles.
Many YouTube stars became famous for doing puzzles on camera.
16. There’s a word to describe jigsaw puzzle fans.
If you like jigsaw puzzles, you are a dissectologist.
17. There are online versions of jigsaw puzzles.
Because we live in a digital era, it is obvious that even jigsaw puzzles have gone digital. In fact, many websites provide puzzles for beginners to experts.
18. There are 3D versions of jigsaw puzzles.
Three-dimensional puzzles let you put all those pieces together and create a replica of pretty much anything.
19. The puzzle conspiracy.
Several puzzle manufacturers produce puzzles for both large and small companies. Therefore, it is possible to get two sets that are the same but made by two different companies.
20. Everything and anything can be a jigsaw puzzle.
Really, anything. Animals, nature, famous art, hobbies, travel destinations, movies, coffee… the list goes on.
21. You can make a customized jigsaw puzzle.
We said that anything could be a jigsaw puzzle, right? So some companies will make a jigsaw puzzle with your pictures.
22. Puzzle montage art.
Known as the creator of puzzle montage art, Vancouver artist Tim Klein combines pieces of puzzles into new works of art that are striking and surreal.
23. Philosophical reflections on life.
Some people use jigsaw puzzles as a metaphor to say that everyone is unique and has a place in the world.
24. There’s a giant jigsaw puzzle in Dubai.
The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre broke the record for the largest puzzle in 2018 when it built a 12,320-piece puzzle that measured more than 65,000 square feet to celebrate the Year of Zayed.
25. Wooden versions are more expensive.
Stave Puzzles manufactures and sells some of the most expensive jigsaw puzzles.
26. There’s a way to solve them fast.
If you sort the different colors into groups before you begin, you will complete the puzzle much faster.
27. It takes you four times longer to do a 1,000-piece puzzle than a 500-piece.
On average, a 1,000-piece jigsaw will take you four times longer to complete than a 500-piece jigsaw. As you double the number of pieces, the difficulty also quadruples.
28. There’s a really tiny 1,000-piece puzzle.
The Educa Company of Spain made a 1,000-piece puzzle with tiny pieces. The completed puzzle measures 46 cm x 30 cm.
29. They are getting harder.
Examples include The Phoney Corner, which features a fake corner piece in the middle of the puzzle, and Color Line Cutting, which has a piece cut along the dividing line between different colors to not give any clues for the following pieces.
30. There’s one jigsaw puzzle with no solution.
In 1989, Stave Puzzles released a puzzle called 5 Easy Pieces, which had no solution. It was an April’s Fool joke.
31. Many British companies are named after the puzzle.
Hundreds of British-registered companies contain the word ‘Jigsaw’ in their trading names.
32. Some puzzles are cut with water.
The use of water jets has recently improved jigsaw cutting. It requires water pressure of up to 20 tons per inch, which results in water traveling twice the speed of sound.
33. Someone tried to break the record for the biggest jigsaw puzzle, but it collapsed — and it’s all on video.
Dave Evans from Weymouth spent five weeks cutting 40,000 puzzle pieces to see them crumble to the ground after placing the last piece. You can still see the disaster on video.
34. A Brazilian woman has one the most extensive collection of jigsaw puzzles.
Her name is Luiza Figueiredo, and she has 1,047 different sets.
35. The first commercial jigsaw puzzles created didn’t have a picture.
The title of the box would lead people to guess where the pieces would go.
36. An employee once ate a piece in front of his customers.
A Ravensburger export manager ate a puzzle piece made from thick cardboard in front of Chinese customers to show “the most authentic proof of the ‘quality enjoyment’ provided by Ravensburger Puzzles.”
37. There was a weekly jigsaw puzzle.
In 1932, people rushed to the newsstands to buy the Jig of the Week. It cost 25 cents and featured weekly series including Picture Puzzle Weekly, Jiggers Weekly, and Movie Cut-Ups.
38. Puzzle Presto! keeps your puzzles intact.
Puzzle Presto! is a stick-and-peel adhesive sheet that seals completed puzzles permanently.
39. It was the inspiration of an Argentinian movie.
“Puzzle” was based on a 2010 Argentinian movie of the same name. According to the film starring Kelly Macdonald and Irrfan Khan, a jigsaw puzzle gifted to a suburban woman for her birthday opens up a whole new world.
A jigsaw puzzle-themed trivia night will be a breeze for you now that you’ve read this article. You’re welcome!