Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
The origins of jigsaw puzzles go back to the 1760s when European map makers pasted maps onto wood and cut them into small pieces. The "dissected map" has been a successful educational toy ever since. Puzzles for adults emerged around 1900, and by 1908 a full-blown craze was in progress, especially in the United States.
The puzzles of those days were quite a challenge. Most had pieces cut exactly on the color lines. There were no transitional pieces with two colors to signal connecting pieces. And, unlike children's puzzles, the adult puzzles had no guide picture on the box. If the title was vague or misleading, the true subject could remain a mystery until the last pieces were fitted into place.
Parker Brothers, the famous game manufacturer, introduced special figure pieces into its "Pastime" brand puzzles. Figure pieces made puzzles a bit easier to assemble. The fascination of pieces shaped like dogs, birds, and other recognizable objects offset the somewhat reduced challenge. Eventually, Pastimes and other brands moved to an interlocking style that reduced the risk of spilling or losing pieces.
After World War II, the wood jigsaw puzzle went into a decline. At the same time improvements in lithography and die-cutting made the cardboard puzzles more attractive, especially when Springbok introduced high quality reproductions of fine art on jigsaws.
In 1965 hundreds of thousands of Americans struggled to assemble Jackson Pollock's "Convergence," billed by Springbok as "the world's most difficult jigsaw puzzle" (see picture below).
Today there are double-sided puzzles and puzzles with up to 32,000 pieces. In 2015 a puzzle billed as the world's hardest jigsaw puzzle was released. Named '1000 Colours,' each of the 1,000 pieces is a completely different and have to be placed according to the CMYK system (as in cyan, magenta, yellow, black, used in printing systems). Click the Jackson Pollock's "Convergence" puzzle for more on these newer puzzle challenges.