All Things Printed & Recorded: Puzzles Rise to the Challenge

We’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores.

For March, we’ve exercised our brain to bring you some fascinating info about puzzles. It’s no wonder that with 2020 being a challenging year, to say the least, puzzles became a prize possession among our booklovers. So much so, that we sold more than 180,000 of them!

Come to think of it, puzzles have always seemed to help us put the pieces back together…even when that pesky corner piece is missing.

1760s  Londoner John Spilsbury creates early wooden jigsaw puzzles.
c.1900 A jigsaw puzzle craze sweeps the US.
1920s  Jigsaw puzzles become an inexpensive Depression-era pastime.
1932  Jig of the Week, a weekly 25¢ puzzle, is a hit on newsstands.
2011  The world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, with 551,232 pieces, is assembled in Vietnam.


  • A 1514 engraving by Albrecht Dürer featured a “magic square,” a distant ancestor to sudoku and other number-based puzzles.
  • Jigsaw puzzles emerged in the 18th century when maps were mounted on wood and cut into pieces along national borders. Known as dissected maps, they were used to teach geography to children.
  • In the early 20th century, the high cost of wooden jigsaw puzzles put them out of reach of average consumers, but they became a staple of the high-society party scene.
  • The first known published crossword puzzle appeared December 21, 1913, in the New York World. By the 1920s they were carried in most US newspapers.

 The Jigsaw Puzzle: Piecing Together a History, Anne D. William
 The History and Craft of Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles: From Historical Source Instructions to Modern Tools and Techniques, Carrie Franzwa

 Crossworld: One Man’s Journey Into America’s Crossword Obsession, Marc Romano
 A Clue for The Puzzle Lady, Parnell Hall
 The New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzles: 50 Sunday Puzzles from the Pages of The New York Times, Will Shortz, ed.
 Sudoku Mania, Book 1

Ready to start on your own puzzle? Check out our selection at here!