Are Puzzles the New Guilty Pleasure?

I have a confession - I absolutely love and adore working on puzzles.  I could spend hours putting pieces together.  There is something about fitting the right segments together that give me a total satisfaction.  I can't quite express the satisfaction I feel upon their completion but it literally sends me over the moon!  I know, I sounds a bit geeky and I have driven my family crazy over the years but I am obsessed!!!  In fact while on vacation in Maine this past month, I completed one of my all-time favorite puzzles.  It was a John Derian butterfly puzzle. 

Although it was only 750 pieces, it was quite difficult because the background, which comprised most of the puzzle, was off-white.  Still, I managed to finish it in less time than I had allotted to myself (I wanted to pat myself on the back but several family members were giving me grief about my ego and I couldn't be as self-congratulatory as I would have wished lol). Strangely, though, I had never bothered looking into the history of the puzzle until this week when I woke up thinking about how puzzles came into being.

The art of the puzzle can be traced to a single individual, English cartographer and engraver John Spilsbury who, in 1760, used his marquetry saw to create the fist jigsaw puzzle to create a game for teaching geography to children of the upper classes, including the nobility.  He mounted his maps on pieces of hardwood and cut along country borders. 

While these early puzzles established the practice of adding tabs and blanks, not every piece interlocked.  By the 19th century foot-powered jigsaws allowed for easier cuts and puzzles could then be completely interlocking. Throughout the 19th century puzzles increasingly  moved from children's teaching tools to entertainment and at the beginning of the 20th century, there was increased demand for adult jigsaw puzzles. 






Further innovations in puzzle making led to the production of cardboard puzzles which, due to the lower price point, were in wild demand during the Great Depression.  During a time when few could afford to spend money on going out to eat or drink, puzzles represented hours of entertainment. The jigsaw could be completed, scrambled, and then re-worked.  By the end of the 20th century, puzzles had established their presence and popularity. Today, excellent digital printing technology allows for superb quality images and the offerings are endless.  

I recently found some exceptional puzzles from Cavallini Papers & Co.  Cavallini is a company started in the San Francisco Bay area in 1989 and they produce high quality home and gift items that are sourced by museums, high design stores  and specialty book stores. I love their round container and the puzzles all come in a muslin bag so that the pieces stay together. I especially love the eco-friendly plastic-free packaging.  Fair warning - they are a bit challenging - but well worth the time and effort whether you complete one with a friend, family member or loved one me - solo.  One of these days, I am going to get my family excited to help me!!

That's all for now.  Until next time......I'll be working on my puzzle.





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