The first jigsaw map of Asia
By SPILSBURY, J. , 1767

Asia in its Principal Divisions, By J. Spilsbury, 1767.

Asia Continent of Asia
  • Author: SPILSBURY, J.
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Spilsbury, Engraver, Map and Print Seller in Russell Court, Covent Garden
  • Publication date: 1767.
  • Physical description: Engraved map, fine original hand-colour, pasted onto wood and dissected along country boundaries, Sumatra and Dzungaria pieces in facsimile, two pieces chipped and one split, a couple very slightly warped, lightly dust-soiled and marked, contained in near contemporary wooden box with sliding lid.
  • Dimensions: 430 by 470mm (17 by 18.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 13063


John Spilsbury (1739-1769) is credited with inventing the jigsaw puzzle, when in 1766 he affixed a world map to wood and carved each country out. He would go on to create over the next two years, puzzles of the four continents (Asia as hear) together with puzzles of England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. The maps were designed as teaching aids for geography classes. As pupils put the pieces together, they would learn how different countries connected to one another.

Rare; we are only able to trace one institutional example: the British Library, lacking the Borneo piece.