The first jigsaw puzzles were produced in the late 1700s by mapmakers mounting maps on hardwood and cutting pieces out with a maquetry saw. In the late 1800s, simply cut solid wood jigsaw puzzles made by leading lithographers such as McLaughlin Brothers (New York City) celebrated American achievements like warships, steamboats, or Teddy Roosevelt charging up the hill in Cuba.
The first great era of jigsaw puzzles started in England and migrated to the U.S. around 1900, when puzzle makers began to experiment with smaller pieces, more appealing to adults, usually with scenes of people or families. There was also a revival in the 1930s during the Depression. Puzzles were given away as advertising premiums and became hugely popular as cheap entertainment (most cost 10 cents).
Some major names for jigsaw puzzle collectors include Arteno (intricate, hand cut puzzles), Parker Brothers (with its leading Pastime Puzzles line), Milton Bradley (Premier Line), Madmar (Utica, New York), Raphael Tuck and Sons Ltd. (London, Zag-Zaw brand), James Browning (U-Nit puzzles), and Par (makers of high end puzzles).