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IN 1760, John Spilsbury, apprenticed to a map maker and engraver in Worcester, set about mounting maps of England on to sheets of thin wood and then cutting around the county boundaries with a fretsaw. The maps were boxed and sold to children to assemble and the jigsaw puzzle was born.

saw Over the next 100 years, the cutting aspects of the jigsaw were refined and improved alongside the development of the printing industry. Jigsaw puzzles, which had been largely used for educating children, now began to interest adults and the subject matter, mainly maps and biblical images, began to be developed into more amusing designs. Jigsaws had come of age and by the middle of the 19th century, intricate shapes and the 'whimsy' were added to hand-cut wooden puzzles for the amusement of Victorian ladies.

These early jigsaws were important and tell the social history of the times -some were risqu, others followed the royal family, maps of the British Empire, the development of steam trains, sporting puzzles and the history of cars and boats. The work of painters and designers of the time were widely featured on jigsaw puzzles too.

Wooden jigsaw puzzles grew in popularity throughout the two world wars but by the late 1930s and early 1940s new machinery had been invented which allowed for mass production and cardboard began to be used instead of wood. Jigsaws were now widely available to all, but the early skills and quirky additions, such as the whimsy, disappeared.

Today Wentworth Wooden Puzzles is the only Today, manufacturer of wooden puzzles with whimsies in the UK. Whimsies are special pieces cut into shapes which echo the theme of the jigsaw such as Christmas trees, snowflakes and stars in a festive puzzle.

Wentworth has more than 700 images to choose from or you can provide your own picture. Each puzzle is boxed and you can choose between a picture label on the lid or the words -A Wentworth Personal Puzzle -if you want the image to be a surprise!

So step back in time this Christmas with a wonderful wooden jigsaw puzzle that will keep the family entertained for hours. Even better, it's one present that doesn't require batteries! Clear a flat space big enough, listen to the clatter of wooden pieces as they tumble on to the table and draw up a few chairs. There's nothing more satisfying than finding those first two bits that fit together and then a fewmore, and a fewmore... It's compulsive, relaxing, and eventually, even the most anti-jigsaw teenager won't be able to walk past the table without seeing a bit that might just fit there!

Wentworth Wooden Puzzles start from pounds 5.95 for a stocking filler size (40 pieces).

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 20, 2009
Previous Article:Win a fantastic table and chairs.

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