20th Century Jigsaw Puzzles

During the 20th century jigsaw puzzles blossomed and as Anne Williams points out in her essay, jigsaws were no longer just for children. At times during the 20th century there were periods of jigsaw puzzle "crazes" which enhanced the types that became available. Like other sectors of the game industry in the 20 century, jigsaw puzzle production and distribution flourished. Because there are so many examples in the collection that could be placed on the Website, we offer only a few of each type, dividing these examples into an arbitary classification scheme based on the subject matter of a puzzle, or its physical design. Click on any of the link titles below to be taken to a page with information and graphics about these puzzles. You can return to this page by clicking on your "back button" or clicking on the title "20th Century" in the left menu panel.

Map Jigsaw Puzzle

Jigsaw Puzzle Maps: Popular jigsaw puzzle subjects from the past are still very much with us today. A case in point is maps. Contemporary jigsaw maps still use the technique of cutting up a map along political boundaries. There are a number of these in the collection; you can see an older North American example, a US example, a Canadian example, and a Turkish example.

Child's Jigsaw

Puzzles for Children: Williams notes that there are especially designed puzzles just for children. Some may include a frame in which pieces are placed to enable a child to meet with success in putting the puzzle together. Pieces are large so small fingers can easily grasp a piece. Various puzzle producers "age grade" puzzles, suggesting that a certain jigsaw is for a specific age range.

Sand Jigsaw

Puzzles To Challenge Adults: Unlike puzzles designed for children, there are puzzles designed for adults, like the famous all-red Springbok's puzzle Little Red Riding Hood's Hood, or Whitman Golden's Sand Dune. The challenge in such puzzles is the coloration used, or the shape and number of the pieces in a puzzle.


Schmuzzle Puzzles: Certain puzzles have all the same shaped pieces - all squares or all rectangles, or some other shape. Williams points out that in the case of Schmuzzle Puzzles (c1975-80), all the pieces are shaped like salamanders. Such contemporary puzzle pieces are now made from molded plastic or are cut with water jets or lasers.

Insurance Company

Puzzles as Advertisements: At sometime during the 20th century, advertising firms discovered jigsaw puzzles as a way to publize products. Many of these "commercials" were given to customers as a reward for product use, other puzzles were distributed to inform or remind would-be customers about a product or a service.


Fine Art: Although not a new idea, during the century many fine art museums licensed replication of some of their works for jigsaw puzzle use. Some publishers specialized in creation of fine are as jigsaw puzzles. Newer production and printing techniques and quality papers enhanced the marketing of these puzzles.

Tower Bridge

Commerating History: Many newer jigsaw puzzles are conceptions of historical events such as famous battles, military heros, buildings and sites that were significant and commemorative of a historic event. Sometimes these are for general sale and at other times are tourist market goods and are sold at a historic site.


Novelty Jigsaws: Some jigsaw puzzles have been designed as "novelty" items, in that when completed may spell out happy birthday or commemorate a special event. Some of these, like this example from the collection is one in a series of twelve zodiac jigsaw puzzles. All of those in this grouping relate to a range of themes.

Computerrized Jigsaw Puzzles

A new jigsaw puzzle innovation is the opportunity for computer users to put together a jigsaw puzzle from a computer graphic (or photograph) of their choice on their own desktop computer. Using a special commerial software product and a mouse, one can select from among hundreds of pictures offered on a CDROM, and specify how many puzzle pieces the player wants to work with. Many such inexpensive programs are on the market.

3D Puzzles

Computerized Jigsaws: Another type is three-dimensional jigsaw puzzles with multiple layers. One puzzle maker who specializes in this type of puzzle is the Wrebbit Company. They produce puzzle sets of cardboard and foam that a user can manipulate and put together; however, they also produce five computerized 3D versions under the brandname Puzz3D.

"Top-Of-The-Line" Jigsaw Puzzles

Spoecial contemporary puzzles intended for serious adult puzzlers are very expensive custom made one of a kind luxury puzzles, such as those manufactured by the Stave Company. To "Link" to this site on the World Wide Web, click on the company name. Note: To return to this Webpage from this commercial Website, use your browser's "Back" button.

Last update April 3, 2010