No one really knows when the idea for the jigsaw, or picture puzzle originated. The first jigsaw puzzle, as we know it, was invented by British mapmaker John Spilsbury in about 1760, as an educational toy. By mounting one of his maps on thin wood and cutting out shapes with a saw, he created a new way to teach geography using his “dissected maps.” When properly assembled the flat interlocking cut-out pieces formed a picture or figure – a completed jigsaw puzzle.
Entertainment puzzles for adults emerged around 1900 and by 1908 were a popular form of pastime in North America. The puzzles of this time proved to be quite challenging as most pieces did not interlock, there were no guide pictures, and the titles were often vague or misleading. Often the subject remained a mystery until the last pieces were fitted into place. Home amusements such as jigsaw puzzles enjoyed a resurgence of popularity during the Great Depression years; possibly because they offered an escape from troubled times, or provided a much-needed sense of accomplishment.
Keeping with this spirit we invite you to rediscover the puzzle craze as you reassemble selected photographs taken by Reuben R. Sallows, during the early 1900s. Completion of the selected photograph will reveal a story about the image.
Puzzle enthusiasts can select any of the images below and the number of pieces to suit their passion for perplexity.