Antique Treen - Ten facts about Jigsaws

1. The earliest jigsaw which has survived intact was made in 1766 in London it was a dissected map of Europe.

2. Jigsaws were initially called dissected puzzles.

3. Dissected puzzles were educational tools for children and not toys. In the 18th century they tended to be made for wealthier families and the subject matters were always with the purpose to educate.

4. English puzzle makers, often starting out as engravers, mapmakers, or printers of books and children's games.They began making the puzzles by mounting maps on hardwood and cutting pieces out with a maquetry saw by hand, Early ones were made from mahogany, 19th century ones from soft wood.

5. The term "Jigsaw" was not used until the early 1900's and derives its name from the tool Jigsaw. It was invented in the 1870's and was used to cut the pieces that made up the puzzle.

6, The puzzles prior to the 1900's tended to be larger pieces, they could n't cut the small interlocking pieces that we have today. The older puzzles, only the pieces around the outer edge of the picture interlock. The rest of the pieces are cut with wavy rather than straight lines and simply abut each other. See images of the map of Europe.

7. Nearly half the puzzles produced during the 18th century were maps, the shapes of the pieces were the shapes of the countries and counties to help children identify them.

Other subjects were the alphabet and bible stories.

8. One hundred years later c1860/70 only 20% of puzzles were maps many other subjects had been introduced including animals, food and flowers to name a few.

9..Antique puzzles were hand coloured until 1890's and were packaged initially in oak boxes, by the 1820's whitewood was used.

10. It wasn't until the earlier 1900's that jigsaws became popular with adults in American soon to be followed in the Britain,, as more intricate and smaller pieces were used. This interest in jigsaws spread across the world.

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We first became involved in Antique Treen and furniture some twenty five years ago and since then a passion for Treen, small wooden snuff boxes and decorative wooden items has developed into Opus Antiques.

This web site shows only a  small selection of our current stock for sale, if you are looking for something you don't see, please contact us.


We are also interested in buying Antique Treen items. As well as using our Contact page, you can also email or telephone us on 07941 285532


The word Treen is derived from the word tree and is a term used to describe wooden household objects, all turned from one piece of wood e.g. a bowl, plate, gingerbread mould, and spoons, always having a function.

Nowadays when we talk about Antique Treen it tends to cover all small wooden items including antique snuff boxes, candle stands, spice towers, etc. often made from several pieces of turned wood.


When a piece of wood has been painstakingly turned or carved, handled, polished and loved over a few hundred years old, it can develop a wonderful colour and patina and becomes an irresistible piece of Antique Treen.

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Address: Bath, Somerset       Contact Telephone: 07941 285532       Email: