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Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

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

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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.


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National Low Income Housing Coalition
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How Many Hours You Need to Work to Pay Rent in Each State
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National Low Income Housing Coalition

According to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a full-time worker in the U.S. must earn, on average, $17.14 per hour to comfortably afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent [PDF]. That said, even the nation’s highest minimum wage—which, starting in 2020, is slated to be pegged at $15 in Washington D.C.—isn’t enough to meet these numbers.

This raises the question: How many hours would the average minimum wage worker in each state need to work per week to afford their one-bedroom abodes, without paying more than 30 percent of their overall income? (Spoiler: Those earning the bare federal minimum of $7.25 per hour would need to work 94.5 hours per week—the equivalent of 2.4 full time jobs—to achieve this feat.)

The NLIHC broke down their comprehensive nationwide findings in the map above:

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Prof Kenneth Myers
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geography
Most of the World’s Population Lives Within This 2500-Mile Radius
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Prof Kenneth Myers

The Earth gets more crowded each year. In just the past decade, the planet has welcomed about 1 billion new residents. The biggest contributors to the booming population are a handful of countries, and most of them fall within a 2500-mile radius.

As friend of Mental Floss Ken Jennings writes for Condé Nast Traveler, the Valeriepieris circle covers more than half the world’s population. China and India, the world’s two most populous nations, plus Indonesia (the fourth) and Pakistan (the sixth), are all part of a section of Earth that stretches 2500 miles in all directions from a central point near Hainan, China's southernmost area. Bangladesh, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, which all place in the top 15 most populous countries, are also included.

Not only are the populations of these places high, they’re also dense. In Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka, for instance, every square mile holds about 115,000 citizens. (For comparison, New York City, America's most densely populated city, counts roughly 27,000 per square mile.) That explains how this circle can house billions of humans while also containing a lot of open ocean and empty desert.

The Valeriepieris circle is named after the American Reddit user who first shared the map in 2013. His real name is Ken Myers, and he was inspired to create the graphic after visiting Manila in the Philippines for a teaching fellowship and seeing firsthand how many people were crammed into the tight area. The math was checked by Singapore economics professor Danny Quah years later, and he found that Myers had actually been generous with his calculations. Narrow down the circle to a 2050 mile radius, with Mong Khet in Myanmar as the center point, and it still fits close to half the world’s people.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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