250 Years of Jigsaws


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Christmas brings fun, entertainment and jigsaws, but is the tradition of a family gathering around a jigsaw disappearing?

This exhibition at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, probably the largest display of jigsaws ever held, opens on 6 December. The exhibition is open until the end of April 2017 and takes the story back to 1766 when the earliest dissected puzzles were made.

Most of the 250 examples on display celebrate royal occasions and exhibitions, new forms of transport and technology, wars and battles, film stars and radio personalities, television programmes and pop stars. In fact, the jigsaw has reflected most aspects of popular culture and lifestyle in British history.

These examples come from the Robert Opie Collection which has been assembled over the past fifty years. Robert has had a lifetime fascination with the jigsaw puzzle. Indeed, he often refers to his study of consumer history as a vast jigsaw, where each piece adds to his understanding of how the picture of society has evolved.

When in the early 20th century the more economic cardboard jigsaw began to take over from wooden ones, it wasn’t long before promotional examples made their appearance amongst an increasing variety of advertising gimmicks. A further hundred examples of this marketing medium are also on display.

Jigsaws have helped generations of youngsters to develop eye and hand coordination, solving problems, and understanding colour and shape. Many adults enjoy jigsaws for a hobby, and it is known to help the elderly combat Alzheimer, keeping their minds active and alert.

For most, this exhibition will be full of memories.

Venue Details & Map

Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

111-117 Lanacaster Road
Notting Hill
Kensington and Chelsea
W11 1QT
Public transport:
Ladbroke Grove: On exiting the station turn right and take the first right onto Lancaster Road. Walk down Lancaster Road for one minute. The Museum of Brands can be found on the left.

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