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Planning Retirement Online

Jigsaws are for all ages

December 2016

bus stop puzzle

Doing a jigsaw used to be a pastime for children; but in recent years this hobby has enjoyed a real resurgence. Today you can buy a huge range of jigsaws designed for adults and even get your favourite picture made into a lovely jigsaw.

map puzzle

The idea of cutting up a picture so you can put it together again for fun is credited to a London map maker and engraver John Spilsbury. He cut up a wooden map of the British Empire for British aristocracy, to help their children learn about the lands Britain ruled. In those days, these cut up maps were called Dissected Maps and they became quite popular among all the upper classes and spread to Europe and America. The name jigsaw came a little later, appropriate for the way the intricate wooden shapes were cut out.

It took some time before they evolved into the jigsaw puzzles we know today, but their popularity grew steadily. Cardboard puzzles came in much later as they had a lower profit margin and were also considered to be inferior to the heavier wooden puzzles. However, cardboard versions became especially popular in America during the Great Depression because of the cost; they were deemed to be a cheap form of entertainment.

Today cardboard is still popular although puzzles are also available in wood and other materials too; and of course they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and variations for every age group.  Along with the widest choice of pictures and subject matter, puzzles now come in a huge range of sizes, including large simple puzzles for young children right up to puzzles with over 32,000 pieces. There are even double sided puzzles so that they can be solved from either side. And while jigsaws are usually square or rectangular, you can find round jigsaws, or even jigsaws with uneven edges which make them even more challenging.

The world’s largest jigsaw was made by famous quality German jigsaw maker Ravensburger just a couple of months ago. It shows ten different Disney scenes and has over 40,000 pieces which come together to make a jigsaw 680 cms by 192 cms  - not something to fit onto the kitchen table!

For older adults, jigsaws are said to be a great way to keep the brain active and they are certainly fun to do, perhaps as you listen to favourite music or a radio programme as well.

One type of puzzle that is becoming increasingly popular are personal photo puzzles; choosing your own picture to be made into a jigsaw puzzle. Choosing a photograph from childhood or a favourite holiday can bring back fabulous memories in a lovely and interesting way. But choosing a picture does need a little care; large areas of blue sky really don’t work as it can be just too hard to work out which piece goes where.  Also look out for trees and vegetation – fitting numerous tiny green leaves together can try the patience of even the most enthusiastic jigsaw doer!

Most personalised jigsaws will come with the picture carefully reproduced on the box and today you can also find magnetic jigsaws and jigsaws made of a collage of your favourite photographs. Personalised jigsaws can also make a great gift, and you can even order jigsaws that come together with a birthday or Christmas message.

There are various online shops that offer good quality personalised jigsaws including:

my photo puzzle 

Puzzles Print

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