This history of jigsaw puzzles (and custom puzzles) can be dated all the way back to 1760 to an English mapmaker. John Spilsbury created the first custom jigsaw puzzle as an educational tool. By cutting the countries from his maps using a carefully crafted saw, Spilsbury found a way to educate children in the geography of the developing world. This jigsaw puzzle maker also created a fun hobby and great pastime for individuals of all ages.
First known as dissections, the custom jigsaw puzzle gained favor in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a novelty and souvenir. Puzzle manufacturers quickly changed materials from wood to less expensive cardboard in order to meet growing demand. These cardboard picture puzzles could be sold for a quarter of the price of a standard wooden puzzle.
Arguably the golden age of picture puzzles came during the 1920s and 1930s in both Europe and the United States. At this time, jigsaw puzzle manufacturers saw a dramatic increase in individuals purchasing puzzles. Adults and children seemed to enjoy the trend of assembling a puzzle in the days before modern distractions like television. Also, corporations jumped on the custom puzzle bandwagon and gave many away as prizes and premiums during this time. Today, customized puzzles for business use can thank their predecessors for making this trend popular.
More recently, there has been a shift away from traditional jigsaw picture puzzles in exchange for a more customizable option. Individuals are enjoying putting their own faces on personalized jigsaw puzzles along with custom messages and uniquely shaped puzzle pieces. Today, Up In Pieces is continuing the rich tradition of the jigsaw puzzle, with a unique spin courtesy of their customizable options.