Jigsaw puzzle, 1766

This map is a jigsaw puzzle. It was designed by John Spilsbury in 1766. Spilsbury, formerly the apprentice to the Royal Geographer, is believed to have been the first commercial manufacturer of jigsaws. He managed to start quite a trend. For a good 20 years during the mid 1700s, all manufactured jigsaws were in the form of dissected maps like Spilsbury's.

The maps were designed as teaching aids for geography classes. As pupils put the pieces together, they would learn how different countries connected to one another.

John Spilsbury certainly spotted a business opportunity. In the space of two years he marketed the eight map subjects most likely to appeal to upper class English parents: the world, the four continents then known (Africa, America, Asia and Europe), England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

This map is a rare survivor - only one other Spilsbury map is known to exist in a British public collection.


Taken from: Europe divided into its kingdoms
Author / Creator: Spilsbury, John
Date: 1766-77
Copyright: Copyright The British Library Board
Shelfmark: Maps 188.v.12