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Jigsaw puzzles and a little bit of history

Most households in the UK will own at least one jigsaw, whether it’s displayed on a wall as a masterpiece or on top of a cupboard in the box growing dust. Jigsaws have a rather long history, going right back to 1760 when it’s believed the first jigsaw was created.

Despite the name β€œjigsaw” these puzzles have never involved the use of an actual jigsaw tool to cut them. Early jigsaws were in fact cut with a different kind of saw known as a maquetry saw and usually involved maps being placed on hardwood sheets, the boundaries would then be cut and dissected and the cut pieces used as part of the early teachings of geography.

Cardboard jigsaws which most of us are more familiar with, first appeared in the 1800’s but were less popular than their wooden counterparts due to assumed quality. This changed during WW2, mainly due to costs and the cardboard versions improving greatly.

Modern day jigsaws tend to be made from paper board. With artwork, photographs, or a painting glued onto the board. The board then gets fed into a special press in which steel blades cut the image into the desired shapes. A lot of very new jigsaws are also now cut using laser technology. Acrylic is now often used for specialist 3D puzzles too.

Jigsaws are sold in all toy shops, many stationery stores, supermarkets as well as specialist stores. There are thousands on the market with all sorts of images and designs. Jigsaws can contain any amount of pieces from four which are generally for very young children, right up to huge 40’000 or even more pieces. The most popular being 500 or 1000 pieces being aimed towards adults and 100-200 pieces towards older children. However did you know that 1000 piece jigsaws typically contain 1026 pieces in total?

Most modern day jigsaw pieces are classed as interlocking. This means that when pieces are connected and then one is moved slightly, the pieces will stay connected together until they are unconnected. It makes it easier and less frustrating for the builder.

For most people, the easiest way to solve any size jigsaw is by finding the four corner pieces and then the straight sides to form the jigsaw puzzle frame, from there looking at the image on the box may help to locate the rest of the pieces and where they belong

Jigsaws are traditionally known for being flat rectangular or square shaped. However due to modern day technology they also now take on other shapes abs forms. Some specialist puzzles can take on the shape on an animal for instance and then there are other shapes such as triangle or spherical. There are also 3D construction jigsaws usually with numbered interlocking acrylic pieces that build up from a base into a tower or globe or other structure. These types of jigsaws are usually held in place permanently rather than taken apart and rebuilt. The finished jigsaw structure then becomes ornamental or has some sort of use such as a holder or vase.

Jigsaws make wonderful gifts as they come in designs and sizes to suit most people. With the current lockdown, it means more people are at home with more time on their hands and jigsaws can become an enjoyable hobby to pass some time. Many jigsaw enthusiasts start small and gradually increase the size of their jigsaws, they also invest in puzzle boards and adhesive so their finished work stays intact and can then be displayed. Whereas others enjoy taking them apart and re-doing them over and over again. If you know of a jigsaw lover this Christmas then perhaps consider a special personalised photo puzzle just for them. Use a photograph of them or their pets/children and turn it into a special custom made gift.

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