Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division
Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

These Centuries-Old ‘Dissected Maps’ Were the Earliest Jigsaw Puzzles

Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division
Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

Solving modern-day jigsaw puzzles is often about piecing together fun scenes, but the objects of leisure once served a more educational purpose. The Library of Congress recently added high-resolution scans of jigsaw puzzles that are among the first ever made, dating from the 18th through the early 20th century.

According to Rebecca Onion of Slate, the "dissected maps" were handcrafted by cartographers as learning tools. John Spilsbury is credited as the inventor of the jigsaw puzzle, but only the well-to-do could afford them. Now, thanks to the LOC, we can all see examples of the vintage wooden maps and their packaging for free.

While most of the puzzles are fully intact, there are a couple pieces lost to history. The oldest of the set (above) is from 1772 and depicts the "kingdoms of Spain and Portugal, divided into their great provinces." Check out a few of the cool puzzles below, then head to the Library of Congress' digital collection of maps to see them all.

Map of the New York City subway system, 1954

"Wallis's New map of the Holy Land : exhibiting at one view all the remarkable events recorded in the Old and New Testament," 1815

"England and Wales : with the principal roads and distances of the county towns for London," 1810

"Dissected map of the United States," 1900

"Europe according to the best authorities," 1810

"Wallis's new dissected map of America, engraved from the latest authorities for use of young students in geography," 1812

All images courtesy of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Afternoon Map
The Literal Translation of Every Country's Name In One World Map

What's in a name? Some pretty illuminating insights into the history and culture of a place, it turns out. Credit Card Compare, an Australia-based website that offers its users assistance with choosing the credit card that's right for them, recently dug into the etymology of place names for a new blog post to create a world map that highlights the literal translation of the world's countries, including the United States of Amerigo (which one can only assume is a reference to Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who realized that North America was its own landmass).

"We live in a time of air travel and global exploration," the company writes in the blog. "We’re free to roam the planet and discover new countries and cultures. But how much do you know about the people who lived and explored these destinations in times past? Learning the etymology—the origin of words—of countries around the world offers us fascinating insight into the origins of some of our favorite travel destinations and the people who first lived there."

In other words: there's probably a lot you don't know about the world around you. But the above map (which is broken down into smaller bits below) should help.

For more detailed information on the background of each of these country names, click here. Happy travels!

Dan Bell
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.


All images by Dan Bell


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