Did you know April 1st is National One Cent Day? It may be our first year celebrating it, but it won’t be our last! Pennies have a special importance here at our company. Anyone who has purchased a Hope Puzzle knows that we include a wheat penny in each puzzle as a nod to the moment in time when jigsaw puzzles first rose to popularity. We’d like to think that about 100 years later, we, along with other talented makers, are helping to usher in the Jigsaw Puzzle Renaissance!
E. Pluribus Unum
The wheat penny, whose reverse side depicts two ears of durum wheat, was struck by the US Mint from 1909-1958. In 1890 Congress passed legislation which allowed the Mint to alter designs older than 25 years, which mean that at the time of its retirement, the Indian Head penny was past due. In 1904 President Roosevelt complained that US coinage lacked artistic merit and began looking for artists to redesign some of the coins.
A study of three potential reverses resulted in the approval of a very simple design bearing two wheat heads in memorial style. The wheat penny design was finalized and approved for production in 1909. While the heads side featuring Lincoln’s silhouette still remains the same to this day, the tails side has seen several different designs –most currently it depicts a Union shield.
The First Puzzle Craze
Although jigsaw puzzles were first created in the 1700s, for 200 years they were mostly used as an educational toy for children to learn geography. It wasn’t until around 1900 when puzzle makers began to design puzzles with smaller pieces, which made them more difficult and more appealing to adults. This kicked off the first great era of jigsaw puzzles, known as the “1909 era”. As devoted puzzlers and history nerds, we love the fact the puzzle craze era and the wheat penny era were contemporaneous!