Have you ever wondered who thought of the idea of jigsaw puzzles? Actually, these were first created from paintings. A picture on a flat, rectangular piece of wood was cut into small pieces using a jigsaw. Thus the jigsaw puzzle got its name. The first commercial jigsaw was made around 1760 by John Spelsbury, a London cartographer and engraver. This first jigsaw was a map of the world.


In the early 19th century, the recipients of puzzles were for the most part children of wealthy families.  The puzzles were made with the idea of educational themes.  Then, puzzles for adults appeared, and became very popular.

Toward the end of the century, treadle-operated jigsaws were invented.  Also, wood became available in thin sheets, and printing improved considerably.  These advances allowed puzzle-makers to add designs that were much more durable, as well as intricate and colorful.

During this period, Raphael Tuck, a German furniture dealer, developed techniques that set the stage for the next century of jigsaws.  Cutting became more intricate.  Puzzles now included “whimsies,” pieces cut into recognizable shapes.  Puzzle-makers started using plywood or thick card stock for making puzzles.

Raphael Tuck’s ideas were adapted in America, and by 1908, puzzles became a full-blown craze.  By 1929, Americans were buying two million jigsaws a week.

To meet this demand and to save costs, some manufacturers developed the technique of “stack cutting.”  Up to eight puzzles could be stacked on top of each other and all cut at the same time.

In the 1920s, a technique for die cutting cardboard puzzles  was developed by an American company.  This reduced production costs to a fraction of the cost of hand cutting.  Now, with the improved quality of printing, superb images are available at a reasonable price.

There is a Guinness World Record for the largest commercial jigsaw puzzle in the world, both in number of pieces and finished size. The puzzle, “Memorable Disney Moments,” contained 40,320 pieces and measured about 22 1/2 feet wide by 6 1/2 feet high, and weighed in at 43 pounds


Working on jigsaw puzzles or crosswords can provide many health benefits to the brain. The brain produces a chemical known as dopamine. This chemical is quite important because it is chiefly responsible for learning and memory. When the brain is engaged in solving puzzles, the production of this chemical increases.

Because working puzzles stimulates concentration and strengthens short-term memory, puzzles benefit us by helping reduce the risk of dementia.


In education, there is something called the jigsaw classroom technique. This is a method of organizing classroom activity in such a way as to make the students depend on each other to succeed. Classes are broken into groups and assignments are broken into pieces. When the group assembles these pieces, they complete the puzzle.


Here are some suggestions for puzzle completion. First, sort the pieces by color, using the picture on the box for a guide to color and shape groups. Find all the edge pieces and assemble. Then do the center, using your color-sorted groups.

When your frame of edge pieces is finished, leave the center of the frame free of pieces, putting in only completed sections. This makes your building job much easier.

Then take your pieces sorted by color, and see if some will combine to make small sections. Look for colors along the edge that match your color groups.

Consult the picture on the box often. Walk around the table to view the puzzle from a different angle. For extra assembling assistance, you can purchase a felt puzzle board that will keep your pieces safe and in place. When you are done working, you can roll the felt board up and store it.

Some people glue their puzzle pieces to a permanent surface and display them as art.

(Information for this article comes from Wikipedia and from jigthings.com.)


In 1998, Andrew Kelley and Bill Flynn started a business on a shoestring in Vermont. Their first offerings were Advent calendars, in the European style. These were a big success, and the owners learned that people seemed to be searching for holiday traditions to enjoy as a family.

Their selection of Advent calendars has become enormous, even offering special types of Advent calendars, such as chocolate, fabric, and wooden ones, and others.

They expanded their line to include such items as candles, Christmas cards, and jigsaw puzzles. For a spooky Halloween, the company offers a “Countdown to Halloween”, with 31 days of countdown fun for the holiday family.

Their products are now offered through catalogs, online, and through a number of gift shops.


Here are ten fine jigsaw puzzles about cats for your entertainment. These are fun for the whole family, and also make excellent gifts. Consider clicking on the picture of one of these puzzles and ordering it from the Vermont Christmas Company.

This puzzle is special, as it is called “The Literate Cat”, which is the name of this website.
1,000 pieces; price is $15.95.

Title of puzzle:  Kittens fishing,  550 pieces; price is $13.95

Title of puzzle: Tapestry Cat, by White Mountain, 1000 pieces; price is $15.95

Title of puzzle:  Curious Kittens, 1000 pieces; price is $15.95

Title of puzzle:  Cat bookshelf, 1000 pieces; price is $15.95

Title of puzzle:  Socks and Kittens shaped puzzle, 1000 pieces; price is $15.95

Title of puzzle: Painted Cat, by White Mountain, 1000 pieces; price $15.95

Title of puzzle:  Kitty in the Garden, 200 pieces; price 11.95

Title of puzzle:  Kitties in the Kitchen shaped puzzle, 1000 pieces; price $18.95

Title of puzzle:  Purrfect Harmony, 1000 pieces; price $15.95

I would love to have a customer review on these puzzles.  If you select one, let me know what you think of it. To go to the company selling these puzzles, just click on a picture of one of them and it will take you directly to the page of the company website where you can order it. Be sure to leave a comment, especially if you are an avid puzzle fan. Send me a message and I will include more puzzles down the road for your enjoyment.


  1. Habib Ali says:

    This is a great post, I have learnt many new things about cat puzzles. Very informative and interesting post, keep up the great work you’re doing. Looking forward to reading more posts from you.


    • Fran Kelso says:

      Puzzles were a great invention, and are a force for good, I believe. It is not always easy to find activities that the whole family will enjoy, but I think puzzles fit that bill. I am so glad you enjoyed my post, and do hope you return often.

  2. Blanka says:

    This is a really interesting and informative post. I like the jigsaw classroom technique because it encourages teamwork and cooperation between students. I didn’t know that solving puzzles can help increasing dopamine level and reducing the risk of dementia. It’s great to know, thanks for sharing!

    • Fran Kelso says:

      Thanks for your comment, Blanka. Yes, it’s nice to know that doing something that is so much fun can actually help your brain. Too often we are supposed to avoid those fun things. Life is a bit of a puzzle, isn’t it? It is rather nice to have something we can actually solve. Glad you enjoyed my post. Please come back again to visit.

  3. Michelle says:

    Hello Fran,
    This was a very interesting article. I love jigsaw puzzles and I did not know about their origination. I will share this with my daughter. She is a puzzle wizard. Thanks for sharing this delightful information. Nice website too.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Stella says:

    Hi there, I really enjoyed reading about the history of puzzles.  As I also love cats, the idea of a cat puzzle was very intruiging and I was stuck when it came to choosing a favourite.

    Puzzles are similar to Lego when it comes to brain development although kids love them differently (if that is clear!).

    Personally, I find puzzles with 1000s of pieces quite daunting to put together, but your tips really make sense and the thought of assembling jigsaws is not so scary now.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Fran Kelso says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed my post.  Yes, there are some nice ones there.  I want to choose a puzzle or two for myself, but am not sure which one I like best.

      By the way, there is one puzzle on the list that is, I think, 350 pieces, if that is any help.  And, yes, I do feel that puzzles, like crosswords, will help keep the brain alert and functioning well.. 

      If you end up trying one of the 1,000-piece ones, let me know if it was any easier to assemble this time.

      Thanks much for your comment.

  5. Will1011 says:

    Very nicely done all the way around. Quite professional. Your history of jigsaw puzzles is quite interesting, and, yes, being a cat lover I would enjoy a puzzle. The layout is quite good, with quality graphics placed strategically as to balance the page and draw the eye. The pic at the top immediately grabbed me. “Cat Tales”, “Cat College” are both topics that I would like to explore. I have nothing negative to say, just a very attractive and classy piece of work. Thanks!

    • Fran Kelso says:

      How nice of you!  So glad you liked the site.  Do come back and visit again when you get the chance.  There is a lot of information in “Cat College” and fun stories in “Cat Tales.”

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