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A New Map of the World; c. 1820

Edward Wallis

A New Map of the World; c. 1820
4 0 c m
actual image size: 22cm x 29cm

Full image caption

A New Map of the World.
Dissected maps were the precursors of the modern jigsaw puzzle. They were probably invented by the London printseller John Spilsbury, who marketed them as educational puzzles to teach children geography. In the late 18th century a number of City book and print publishers began to diversify into producing maps, table games and puzzles. This puzzle was made and sold by Edward Wallis, son of John Wallis who was an early publisher of children's books and games. After his father's death in 1818, Edward continued the family business in the City and later expanded to open a second shop in Islington.

Dissected puzzles like this one were prints mounted onto wood and then hand cut into interlocking pieces. The map is a coloured engraving showing the earth divided into two hemispheres. On the box label there are four figures representing the four continents of the world. Europe is symbolically personified by the figure of Britannia. Africa is represented by a submissive kneeling figure and an ivory tusk, an illustration of contemporary colonial attitudes. Wallis may have been sympathetic to the plight of enslaved Africans however. Another one of his puzzles from this period, The Progress of Coffee, features the comment 'Pray remember the poor despised and oppressed Negro slaves'. In his career Wallis produced a wide range of jigsaw puzzles for the purposes of educating children through play.

Image Details

1815 AD - 1825 AD
Image Number

© Museum of London

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