Jigsaw puzzles originated in Europe in the mid-1700’s in the form of “dissected maps” to teach geography to young children. American production began around 1815 for children’s puzzles, and almost one hundred years later for puzzles that would interest adults. During the early 1930’s there was a year-long craze for jigsaw puzzles. Large and small companies, including many in Maine, worked at that time to satisfy the huge demand for hand-cut wooden puzzles.
After World War II, die-cut cardboard puzzles replaced the more expensive wooden ones. Today only a handful of companies continue to make hand-cut wooden puzzles, one example being Elms Puzzles, of Harrison. Anne Williams, the presenter, will cover the earliest puzzles and some nineteenth century examples. Her discussion of post-1900 puzzles will focus on Maine puzzle makers.
The Kennebec Historical Society’s June Presentation is co-sponsored by the Maine State Library and free to the public (donations gladly accepted). The presentation will take place on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. at the Maine State Library located at 230 State Street in Augusta.