National Library of Australia

The Life of Emigration

Unknown maker The Life of Emigration

London, c.1840

dissected puzzle, hand-coloured lithographed paper on wood, 28.5 x 37.7cm (when complete); in a wooden container with pictorial sliding lid, 20.6 x 16.8cm

Children’s Literature Research Collection, State Library of South Australia
The Life of Emigration

The board game and dissected puzzle (an early form of the jigsaw puzzle) were 19th-century versions of modern marketing—entertaining and informing about life in Australia. Their targets were children in Britain, offspring of potential settlers, at a time when Australia desperately needed skilled migrants.

The Life of Emigration (c.1840) is a 38-piece dissected puzzle that paints an optimistic portrait of colonial life. Hand-coloured lithographs, mounted on wood, follow an emigrant family to Australia, along the way portraying aspects of their new life, such as ground clearing, shearing and transporting the wool to market.

Before the invention of the jigsaw in the 1870s allowed for complete interlocking-piece puzzles, dissected puzzles had to be played with extreme care as most pieces did not interlock.

Emigration soared with the discovery of gold in 1851. As migrant numbers have grown, so too have the nationalities they represent. Migrants arriving between July 2001 and June 2002 alone came from more than 150 countries.