The Jigsaw Puzzle


Autumn Leaves puzzle

Is there a better way to spend a cold rainy New England fall day than around a table with family or friends working on a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle from White Mountain Puzzles? Everyone has a different approach to puzzling, some find a piece and hold it dearly until they find it’s home, others find a spot on the puzzle to focus on and work that area, most everyone agrees that completing the border is the way to start. I have always been a drive by puzzler, I can’t sit still and stay focused that long. I will occasionally stop by the table, find a piece, place it then wander off for a while. Often there is a steamy pot of soup on the stove, and fire in the fireplace.

At Calef’s we feature puzzles from The White Mountain Puzzle Company in Jackson, NH. They have been producing high quality jigsaw puzzles for over 30 years. From relatively simple 300 piece puzzles to 500 piece and 1000 piece, White Mountain Puzzle offers hundreds of designs to choose from. At Calef’s we tend towards the nostalgic New England scenes. They have many themes as well as several featured artists to choose from including trays and frames if you want your creation to endure.

White Mountain Puzzles Box

It is widely agreed that the origin of the modern jigsaw puzzle occurred around 1760. An English engraver by the name of John Spilsbury began mounting maps on pieces of hard wood and using a hand saw to create “Dissected Maps” as a way to teach geography. Production continued by hand until the invention of the foot powered jig saw which allowed for much more intricate designs and much faster production. While most were still made from wood cardboard began to take over as the preferred material. Lighter, cheaper and easier to use this led to a significant increase in the number of manufacturers. Many famous toy companies jumped into the puzzle arena and the modern jigsaw puzzle was fully born. During the great depression of the 1930’s and beyond jigsaw puzzles popularity continued to grow. Today almost all puzzles are made from cardboard on automated machines, but a few high-end companies still make wooden puzzles.

Working a puzzle has many benefits. They have been shown to increase cognitive abilities, relieve stress and some studies suggest puzzling may stave off the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease. Puzzles can be a meditative experience. Intense concentration creates a balance between the logical left brain and creative right brain leading to a mindfulness state. Watching the pieces come together to create an image creates a great sense of accomplishment.

As the weather turns colder and the days get shorter be sure to have a few puzzles on hand.

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