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Building the Ship

Date: c 1880
Overall: 310 × 405 × 5 mm, 25 g
Medium: Lithograph on paper adhered to wood.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Jigsaw puzzle
Object No: 00004456
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This colourful children's educational ship building puzzle shows the entire process of the construction of an iron ship, in nine sections. The 47-piece puzzle illustrates the ship's initial design, the mould loft, laying out of the plans, building the hull in a covered dry dock, raising the masts, sail making, forging the anchors, launching the ship, loading the cargo at the docks and eventually the ship under full sail.

    This complete puzzle comes with a colour guide and a 24-page instructive booklet 'The Building of the Ship'.
    SignificanceThis is a rare complete children's puzzle from the late 19th century. Although the British shipbuilding industry was the largest in the world in the 19th century, jigsaw puzzles relating to their design and construction are unusual. Complete children's jigsaw puzzles from the 19th century are now very scarce, as they are almost always lost with use.
    HistoryJigsaw puzzles were first offered in Europe in the mid-18th century in the form of dissected maps as a new tool for teaching children geography. Educational purposes continued to drive puzzle design and by the early 19th century biblical, moral, historical and technological subjects were commonly presented in jigsaw puzzle form. Early puzzles were very expensive, hand crafted luxuries, often costing more than the average labourer's weekly wage. But as mass production techniques became common, puzzles became more affordable. This puzzle would have originally sold for around 5 shillings.

    This puzzle was originally published by John Betts, and formed part of the company’s extensive range of educational puzzles and maps. When Betts went out of business in 1875 his goodwill was taken over by Philip, Son & Nephew who continued to sell their stock under Betts's name.
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