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Colonial Puzzles

Can you believe that jigsaw puzzles have been around since the 1760's? A man named John Spilsbury, an engraver and mapmaker in London, attached maps of England to thin pieces of mahogany wood and then carefully cut around the shapes of the counties. Around the same time in France, a man working for the King made a similar game and thus the puzzle was born. These map puzzles or "dissected maps" were soon put to use with children to teach them the way each county looked and what counties were next to each other. It was not until 1840 that puzzles began to have "snap-in" or interlocking pieces like most of our puzzles do today.


Map puzzles were the most popular puzzle, but by 1787 puzzles with pictures of different kings were also made. What would Mr. Spilsbury think of all the different types of puzzles we have today?

What would a puzzle of the "United States" have looked like in 1776?

There were only 13 Colonies (today states) at the time compared to the 50 states we have today. Do these Colonies/states look a little different than they do today? Notice that Maine is part of Massachusetts and Vermont is part of New York. (Though New Hampshire also claimed Vermont as part of their land on some maps.) Vermont and Maine were not separate Colonies/states in 1776. Imagine a time when the area in Pennsylvania to the west — where Pittsburgh is today — was considered the wild frontier.