Puzzles have been a toy staple for over a century. Today, childhoods across the world are filled with hours of fun and critical thinking thanks to these mind games, while adults and parents sometimes flex their brain muscles with more advanced models. The specialists at Toy Box, the largest toy store in Westchester County, NY, love a good puzzle themselves and are excited to share the fascinating history behind these timeless sources of entertainment.
It all began in the 18th century when an English mapmaker, John Spilsbury, used a saw to produce a puzzle. In those days, they were called “dissections” because they included maps placed on pieces of hardwood, which were then cut to follow the perimeter of nation’s boundaries. This served as an educational tool at the time, with even young royals using them to learn their geography.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, wooden puzzles saw a surge in popularity. It was a fun, distracting game for kids, and was also extremely affordable. Adults saw the pleasure they brought children, and soon the game became a treat for people of all ages. There was even a weekly jigsaw puzzle offered at some businesses, drawing in enthusiasts who eagerly paid 25 cents to solve the newest game. Mass-produced puzzles gave the industry a particular boost, and some retailers started including them as gifts with select purchases.
Despite their incredible popularity, sales of the wooden jigsaw eventually declined when the economy improved after World War II. Wages rose, prices increased, and the puzzle trade suffered. Around the same time, more creative varieties started to appear in toy stores and corner shops, including intricate die-cut and lithograph models. The beauty of solving a tricky puzzle, then, came in the joy of figuring out a complex problem and using cognitive skills to determine a solution.
Today, puzzles have expanded beyond their quaint origins. Toy stores are packed with models of all sizes, showcasing dramatic prints reminiscent of works of art. Still a popular game for kids, they also receive frequent use from adults seeking a little stress relief, too.
The friendly staff at Toy Box can help you find the perfect puzzle for everyone on your list. Come in to browse their extensive selection of children’s toys, learning toys, and sporting goods. Visit the company’s website, or call (914) 698-7110 to speak with a representative.