THE FIRST PUZZLE BOX IN HISTORY: THE ROYAL PUZZLE CABINET

The first puzzle container created in history to expressly contain puzzles was the royal puzzle cabinet. 
This precious wooden puzzle box was made in 1760. 
It had to contain as many as 16 sectioned maps of different continents and nations. 
The governess Lady Finch ordered the construction of this piece of furniture for the children of the King of England George III.

The birth of educational games in the 18th century.

The eighteenth century brought with it urbanization and industrialization. 
Moreover the educators of the time began to spread the idea that children were individuals in their own right and not just small adults.

The wealthy parents of that period had a strong desire to give their children everything the new industrialized world offered them. 
In particular they paid a lot of attention to the new educational theories that were emerging.

Many philosophers of the time, such as John Locke, promoted the use of educational games . 
In fact, Locke’s idea that the game could involve both the most reluctant students and reinforce traditional lessons quickly took hold. 
This change took place both in the school environment and in the domestic environment during the eighteenth century.

The sectioned maps

Numerous educators began to use wooden maps to teach their students geography and history. 
This new trend also took root among the nobles of the time.

In fact already in 1760 the children of the king of England, George III, were playing with these sectioned wooden maps: vintage puzzles precursors of the current ones. 
The young scion of the royal house, George IV, played with his maps under the harsh gaze of his instructor Lay Charlotte Finch

Sectioned Maps

It was the time when “the sun never set on the British Empire”. 
Thus the knowledge of the world and the geographical boundaries of one’s kingdom was vital to the future king.

The best artisans of the time made, for the young British royal offspring , as many as 16 dissected maps . 
These maps represented different continents and nations.

The first “box” to hold the puzzles

Sectioned Maps Royal Puzzle Box Cabinet

To preserve them the instructor Lady Finch ordered the construction of a mahogany cabinet that could hold the 16 puzzle maps: the first puzzle box in history.

Later the cabinet became the property of Lady Funch and her descendants. 
In 2000, the cabinet was auctioned in London for the incredible price of over $ 85,000. 
The Cotsen’s Children Library, in the United States, bought the royal puzzle cabinet for this incredible sum.

But the Head of Map Collections of the British Library obtained a suspension of the transfer by relying on the first and third Waverly criteria
In 2007, money was collected to buy back the cabinet and make it stay permanently in England.

The cabinet is now on display at the Kew Palace in London.

Who is the inventor of the sectioned maps, the first puzzles in history?

In addition to being the first container designed specifically as a puzzle box, the royal puzzle cabinet held another precious secret.

In fact, some scholars found a very ancient manuscript in it. 
The note stated that Lady Charlotte Finch was the owner of the cabinet and that she was the inventor of the sectioned maps. 
This statement contrasted however with the fact that in the cabinet were contained two wooden puzzle maps of Ireland and Scotland by John SpilsBury. 


John Spilsbury is universally recognized as the inventor of sectioned maps and therefore of the puzzle.

This discovery fueled the diatribe about who the real inventor of the puzzles was.