15 Puzzling Facts for the Puzzle Enthusiast

If you’re a puzzle lover, there’s a good chance you are familiar with the history of puzzles and how jigsaws have evolved over the years. And if you’re not, you’ve come to the right place to learn some fascinating facts about puzzles. We’ve pieced together these puzzles facts from far and wide (across the internet) to share with you. 

1. The first puzzle was developed in 1760 by John Spilsbury to teach students geography.

They became such a valuable resource, subjects expanded to include alphabets, botany, history, and zoology. Spilsbury was a cartographer and had the brilliant idea of placing a map on a piece of wood and cutting out sections of the map. 

2. Before they were called “jigsaw puzzles,” they were named “dissected maps.”

As the first puzzles were designed from cutting up sections of a map, they were aptly called “dissected maps.” As they evolved over the years and cutting techniques changed, they were renamed “jigsaw puzzles.”

3. The study of puzzles is called enigmatology.

Yes, you read that right. It is possible to get a degree in puzzles. Enigmatology is the study and science of puzzles of all sorts, including mathematical, logical, or word-based. Will Shortz, the crossword editor of The New York Times, designed the program at Indiana University via the Individualized Major Program (IMP). Shortz is currently the only individual on the planet to hold a degree in enigmatology. How’s that for a cool puzzle fact?

4. Americans use jigsaws more than any other table game yearly. 

With approximately 50% of Americans buying between three and six puzzles annually and over 1.8 billion jigsaw puzzles sold per year, it’s not entirely surprising that jigsaws are the most loved table game. Even if they seem impossible to complete, we certainly enjoy them. The popularity of the jigsaw spurred the development of International Puzzle Day in 1995 to celebrate this beloved pastime. 

5. Puzzles were previously enjoyed mainly by the wealthy. 

Puzzles were not always mass-produced like they are today, and raw materials were pricey back in the day. When Spilsbury created the original puzzles, among the students that learned with this tool were the children of King George III and Queen Charlotte, who were taught by the royal governess, Lady Charlotte Finch.

6. Jigsaws have never been used in the making of jigsaw puzzles. 

Despite their name, “jigsaw puzzles” is something of a misnomer. While a saw has in fact been used in creating this type of puzzle, a jigsaw has never been used in the cutting process. The fretsaw became the popular tool used to make jigsaws in the 1880s, but “fretsaw puzzle” just didn’t have the same ring to it as “jigsaw puzzle.” 

7. The health benefits of puzzles are significant. 

Puzzles are very beneficial for your brain and brain health. Not only can they increase your mood, but they also improve your mental reasoning and spatial awareness, enhance your short-term memory and help you with problem-solving. They can even lower stress levels, provide your brain with a mental workout, and potentially increase your IQ score by up to 4 points.

8. Puzzle lovers are called “Dissectologists.”

dissectologist is a term for those that describe themselves as a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast. The term was crafted as a result of the original naming of jigsaws - dissected maps. There is even a group based in the UK for puzzle lovers, with members located all over the globe. The club calls itself the Benevolent Confraternity of Dissectologists or the BCD.

9. The fastest jigsaw puzzle-solving record was completed in less than 10 minutes. 

On December 26, 2020, Tammy McLeod of Burbank, California solved the Guinness World Records puzzle challenge in 9 minutes and 58 seconds. The previous reigning champion was then 15-year-old Deepika Ravichandran from East Hampton, Connecticut, who completed the puzzle in 13 minutes and 7 seconds in 2014. 

10. A puzzle piece is a symbol of Autism Awareness. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that impacts an individual's social communication and interaction skills. Not only have studies shown that puzzles help children that have autism with cognitive development, as well as interaction and inclusion, but the puzzle piece symbol is also a representation of the complexity of the spectrum. The design came about in 1963 by Gerald Gasson and, much like puzzles themselves, has evolved over the years. The symbol can be found on a variety of items from t-shirts, to pins and hats. Some individuals even ink themselves with autistic puzzle piece tattoos to raise awareness.

11. There is museum dedicated entirely to puzzles. 

If you enjoy traveling, add this one to your bucket list. Aptly named The Puzzle Mansion, this bed and breakfast slash puzzle museum is located in the Phillippines and has over 1500 preserved puzzles on display. It is recognized by the Guinness World Records as containing the largest collection of puzzles on the globe. They have puzzles of all shapes and sizes, genres, subject matters, sources, and more. 

12. There are multiple things you can do with a completed puzzle

Sure, you can put your completed puzzle back in the box after you’ve spent hours hunched over the table piecing it together. But you don’t *have* to do that. There are many ways in which you can further utilize your completed puzzle including doubling it as wall art, using individual pieces in craft projects, and donating it. 

13. A 1,000-piece puzzle with take you four times as long as a 500-piece puzzle. 

Believe it or not, this is true. While one would think it would only take double the amount of time, every time the amount of pieces is doubled, the difficulty is quadrupled. The length of time it takes to complete a puzzle significantly increases the higher the piece count.

14. Jigsaw puzzles were often used as an advertising and promotional tool. 

As puzzles evolved over the years, imagery moved beyond geographic patterns and nature scenes to include product advertising and promotions. Many times, companies gave out puzzles that featured one of their products or included it for free with purchase.

15. Celebrities are just like you! They enjoy puzzles, too. 

There are quite a few celebrities that are fond of jigsaw puzzles in their downtime. Among them are actors Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman, philanthropist Bill Gates, and even the late Queen Elizabeth II was a puzzle enthusiast.