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A puzzle is an intellectual and creative game, where you have to interlock small carton, textile or plastic parts to create a complete picture. The idea of the first puzzle belonged to John Spilsbury (1739-1769), an engraver and mapmaker, who first commercialized the so-called jigsaw puzzles. At the time this type of puzzle was invented, it looked absolutely differently from what we have now. In the late 18th century, when the puzzles were just created, it was a large-sized real painting, cut with a jigsaw (and that`s how the name jigsaw puzzle first appeared). The most popular jigsaws at that time were maps, which were physically separated in pieces, and the goal for a child was to collect the proper country territory depiction in a correct way. Thus, almost always the puzzles had an educational purpose.

Puzzle map

Later, everything changed, and since the 1900s combining puzzle pieces in a unified picture became a widespread national hobby in the USA. First, it was considered childish and waste of time. However, it soon became a real challenge for some adults to resist the desire to spend long hours on creating a large beautiful picture of something interesting. Unlike today, lots of puzzle box did not include a picture, so it was a real mystery, what kind of an image the authors had hidden there.

The technical process of combining the pieces was complicated as well, as the pieces did not have interlock on their sides, and even the slightest wind blow or a loud sneeze could ruin all the results of your long hours` hard work.

Pricy, huh?

It is an interesting fact, but though today everybody can afford a box of puzzles, in 1908 a 500-piece puzzle was unbelievably expensive, and cost $5 (more than $500 in today`s money). Thus, only really wealthy people could enjoy this new amusement. The puzzle themed parties and competitions were often organized.

Puzzle map
Puzzle map
Puzzle map

However, since 1909, everything changed dramatically, as a famous Parker Brothers toy plant transformed the hand-made puzzles` production to manufacturing process, making both the creation process and the retail price much cheaper. Moreover, lots of new puzzle ideas were created to appeal to a wide audience. The new, animal and human-shaped pieces were created, and the collection process of the game became more exiting as a result. Later Parker Brothers realized that their new project resulted in the biggest revenue they had even seen.

Bestseller of the Great Depression times

At the worst times of the Great Depression in the late 1920s, early 1930s, cheap puzzle sets for adults became as popular, as they have never been before. A lot of businesses closed in the United States.

People had no job, no faith in tomorrow, no opportunities. Puzzles became a real escape from the terrible reality that surrounded people, and remained the only part of life, where they could succeed and create something beautiful and worthy.

Puzzles were a safe, healthy alternative to alcohol, gambling or nightclubs, and helped to unite the whole families around this fascinating hobby. During the 1930s puzzles were sold everywhere: at drugstores and grocery stores, and were available for rent in every single library. As for the rent, people were charged 3 to 10 cents daily, depending on size of the set (which was also not a very cheap form of entertainment).

From riches to rags

After the early 1930s the cheaper method of manufacture appeared. This caused the mass production of inexpensive cardboard, and the prices decreased severely. Pharmacies and retail stores sold puzzle sets as complimentary presents, attached to other goods. In 1932 a Weekly Puzzle contest became popular. People were eager to participate, to buy the new puzzle at their local retail store and wanting to be the first to complete the puzzle.

The Phenomena of the Par Puzzles

Par Puzzles was a game enterprise created by Frank Ware and John Henriques at 1932. They have ignored the trend to make puzzle cheap entertainment and did it their way. They had seriously improved the technology of creating cardboard and made an enormous variety of puzzle images. They also have changed the concept of the puzzle by editing the forms and creating the complicated interlock between the cardboard pieces. Par Puzzles were loved by aristocracy and wealthy families and shared success of the whole puzzle manufacturing industry, until their fashion started to diminish during World War II.

Modern puzzles

Nowadays, jigsaw puzzles are still a vital trend in the toys and games industry. Research from the Alzheimer Society of Canada concluded that working on the jigsaw puzzles is the perfect activity to maintain proper mental activity and cut the risk of developing Alzheimer`s disease in seniors.

Since the 1960, Tower Press almost monopolized the puzzle market. Using the new technology of laser-cutting and using large hydraulic presses, the large plants took an advantage over the small businesses because of the effective but very expensive technology. This newest method could be applied to any material: wood, acrylic, and cardboard of different thickness.

In St-Petersburg Global Trade House we offer you a great variety of jigsaw puzzles for your kids’ development and education. To make the puzzle solving process more entertaining we stressed the accent on the favorite heroes of famous Russian cartoons. We have the puzzle, depicting many Masha and the Bear and Smeshariki heroes and famous Soviet animation heroes. Some of our puzzles are educational where, for example, in a way your children will learn the names of animals and colors.