John Spilsbury, a British mapmaker and engraver, is credited as the inventor of the jigsaw puzzle. He served as an apprentice to Thomas Jefferys, the Royal Geographer to King George III.
In the 1760s, Spilsbury affixed a world map to wood and carved each country out to create a puzzle, which was to teach his Geography students how different countries connected to each other. He saw a business opportunity and created jigsaw puzzles on eight themes of the known world at the time. In fact, in the mid 1700s, all manufactured jigsaw puzzles were in the form of dissected maps like Spilsbury’s.
Other early jig saw puzzles were made by painting a picture on a flat, rectangular piece of wood, and then cutting it into small pieces with a jigsaw, which is what gives us our current name of jigsaw puzzles.