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La Fiesta del Puzzle, by Alejandro Darias

Many things were different before the Internet changed our lives. If you are over 50, you probably had to write your college essays on a typewriter. If you happened to like jigsaw puzzles, you probably didn’t know any real person around you with the same hobby. As a consequence, most puzzle fans were quite alone and unable to share their passion with anyone. In those times, the book La Fiesta del Puzzle would have been impossible. Then the Internet was born, filling every vacuum of human interest. Several online forums about puzzles appeared in different countries and in different languages. These forums gathered the disperse puzzle population around online communities. They later formed legal associations, organized competitions, and published puzzle journals for their members. The puzzle world has bloomed in the last 15 years. It was about time that someone would put all that information together and tell us the story. That’s exactly what Alejandro Darias Mateos has done. He has written and published La Fiesta del Puzzle (The Puzzle Party). It is a book about puzzles and about people that like puzzles. It is the only book in Spanish on this...

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750, Art, Ravensburger

750, Ravensburger, The Wedding Tour, Moritz von Schwind

There are two main reasons why I like Ravensburger puzzles, apart from the image of the puzzle itself. One of them is the matte finish of their pieces. They show a distinctive texture that I prefer over other brands that tend to have glossy surfaces. That matte finish is also common in Clementoni puzzles. The other reason is the excellent quality of the pieces and the way the poster is glued to the cardboard. It is not uncommon to find a 50 year old used copy, like the Wedding Tour, and enjoy a jigsaw puzzle that looks like new. The preference for matte finish is quite a personal choice. They say that in matters of taste there can be no disputes (de gustibus non est disputandum). However, I think most puzzle fans would agree on the excellent quality of old Ravensburger puzzles. In fact, they even tend to weigh more than most other brands. That means that the cardboard used is more dense or thicker. A puzzle by Ravensburger will normally be heavier than most other brands, with perhaps the exception of Jumbo and some old MB puzzles that...

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4000, Art, Educa

4000, Educa, The Battle of Austerlitz, François Gérard

Once upon a time, not very long ago, Educa used to publish excellent fine art puzzles in different sizes. An example is this beautiful The Battle of Austerlitz, by François Gerard. Just 20 years ago, this Spanish manufacturer was producing art puzzles regularly, giving priority to classical masterpieces. Just between 1995 and 2005, the catalog is impressive. Most collectors are familiar with those puzzles in the elegant white box. Has the average puzzle fan changed? What has happened in the last 20 years? Is the puzzle enthusiast different now? Has the taste of the public changed? Why Educa and some other major brands are not including fine art in their catalogs anymore, or very rarely? I know there is a demand for them, which is the reason why Rare Puzzles has visitors. However, it is sad to think that we are a minority now. I'm sure puzzle brands have made their research. They probably know that puzzles by modern artists sell better than classical pieces like this extraordinary The Battle of Austerlitz. Still, a lot people are looking for those puzzles, so there must be some...

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Puzzle Competition in Spain. Saturday, June 15, 2019

Not so long ago, assembling jigsaw puzzles was kind of a solitary passion for most of us. It was something that we enjoyed, but we couldn't share with the people around us. Our friends and relatives had heard about it, of course. However, they probably considered it part of our geeky nature, but nothing more. Meeting someone on any public venue, striking up a conversation and discovering that both shared a common interest for puzzles? Never happened. It was a hobby that we couldn't normally share with anyone. In those times, a puzzle competition was inconceivable. Internet and puzzle forums Then, the Internet came to our lives. The Big Jigsaw Puzzle Collection forum at Flickr made the single most decisive contribution to putting together serious puzzle collectors and enthusiasts. For the first time, it was possible to meet online like-minded people. Now it was possible to talk about designs, pieces quality, editions, brands..., and share the passion for puzzles. The fact that most of those people were thousands of miles away from each other was just secondary. At the same time, similar local forums started to...

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5000, Art, MB

A Missing Piece in the 5000, MB, Tiger Hunt, by Rubens

Two years ago I decided to a start a Missing Piece Replacement service at Rare Puzzles. I knew it was not easy to find a perfect replacement from a compatible puzzle. However, I thought a bad replacement was always better than an incomplete puzzle. Little by little, the Missing Pieces section increased. However, I never expected to add the wonderful 5000, MB, The Tiger Hunt, by Rubens, to the list. There are around 20 puzzles only listed now, but I'm sure many more will come in the future. One year ago, I was able to provide a compatible piece for the 5000, Ravensburger, The Night Watch, by Rembrandt. I had sold a used copy with a damaged piece that I had not detected. For that reason, I felt compelled to assemble a compatible copy and find the replacement, which was perfectly good. Very recently, GijonForEver, who is a a very active puzzle enthusiast and has the best collection of large fine art puzzles in Spain (IMHO), completed the magnificent 5000, MB, The Tiger Hunt. When he started, he was sure that the puzzle was complete. However, he...

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2000, Art, Ravensburger

2000, Ravensburger, Liberation Celebration, Bauchant

When I verified this old and beautiful Ravensburger puzzle on February 10, 2016, the final count was 2003 pieces. However, I was able to detect 3 clearly foreign pieces. For that reason, I was hoping that this Liberation Celebration, by French artist André Bauchant, would be complete. It is not easy to find a puzzle from 1976 in excellent condition, so I was optimistic when I could spot the foreign pieces. Foreign and extra pieces However, when I detect a foreign piece in a puzzle during the verification process, I never list it for sale right away. Why? Because if there is a foreign piece that I have detected, it is possible that there is another one that I have not detected. After all, a foreign piece in a puzzle indicates a careless owner. For that reason, I simply put it aside with the intention of completing it some time in the future. The same applies when I get extra pieces but I am unable to detect foreign ones. If a puzzle must have 1530 pieces, for example, and I get 1531,...

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1500, International Team

1500, International Team, Liberty Puzzle, Alphonse Mucha

This Liberty Puzzle is one of the most interesting jigsaw puzzles that I have assembled, and the reason is not the fact that I like Alphonse Mucha very much. I must say liked this painting from the very first moment I saw it. However, when I found it, I was not sure whether I should buy it or not. The image in the box had golden tones that I somehow disliked. There was a label with the form of a puzzle piece that read ORO-OR-GOLD, so I figured it was some particular style of this brand. Eventually, in order to provide some diversity to my collection, I decided to buy it. Doing some research about the puzzle, I found out the manufacturer was International Team. They were an Italian company that disappeared in the 80’s that produced some very nice and unusual puzzles. Among them, they published 12 puzzles for a Zodiac series. Several illustrators designed all the different pictures for the series, getting their inspiration from Mucha. Then, to close the series, there was a 13th puzzle, which is this one. The puzzle depicts the painting titled represents a painting titled Flower, which Mucha completed in...

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1000, 500, Spiel Spass

2×500, 1000, Spiel Spass, Lawn with Poppies

It is difficult to be original when it comes to jigsaw puzzles. Some companies have innovated with unusual die cuts, while others have produced silhouette puzzles or even 3D puzzles. Dividing an image in three contiguous sections is another way to be original. The company Spiel Spass produced some puzzles in this format, as part of their Triptychon series. The title of this one is Lawn with Poppies, although the only title in the box was in German: Mohnwiese. There is no reference to the artist. The result is interesting, with a panorama effect. I am sure that the framed puzzles would look nice hanging on a wall. However, the selection of the images are questionable, at least in the puzzles that I have seen belonging to the same Triptychon series. They look like the stock images that we can find at hotel rooms or at the dentist's office. In any case, de gustibus non est disputandum, and fortunately we all have different taste and preferences. Why did I complete Lawn with Poppies? Whenever I buy a used puzzle, the seller can guarantee...

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1500, Art, Educa

1500, Educa, Leda Atomica, Salvador Dalí

Spanish brand Educa has a very nice collection of 1500 pieces jigsaw puzzles under the label of Museum Series. This version of Leda Atomica by the Spanish artist Salvador Dalí is just one of the many puzzles in the series. In order to get the attention of the prospective buyer, they call it A Collector's Item, and produce it in an elegant black box. Inside the box, you can find a golden tag with the title and the author. Later you can place that label on your puzzle and it will look like a painting in a museum. I am not particularly fond of Dalí, so I don't recall the reason why I bought this puzzle. Perhaps I thought I should expand my collection to puzzles out of my comfort zone. Or perhaps the price was very good and I didn't want to miss the opportunity. The colors of the box had faded out slightly due to the sunlight. When that happens, or there is any other damage to the box, very often store owners lower the price. Leda and the Swan The title of this painting is Leda Atomica. It is Dalí's version of the mythological topic of Leda and the Swan. Such topic has been...

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Change of appearance to improve Rare Puzzles

It's been around two years since our last change of appearance. Back then I bought some software that would allow people to sell their own puzzles on the site. Since then, some new sellers have joined Rare Puzzles and some others will come soon. During this time I have learned about some of the challenges of a marketplace website. The most important one is having buyers and sellers in different countries. Change to improve In an attempt to make things easier for buyers and sellers (and for me as well), I will be installing some new software in the next days. It is a Wordpress plugin that hopefully will improve the one we have right now. As a consequence, the appearance of the website is also going to change significantly. For that reason, t is likely that at the beginning Rare Puzzles will look like a new website. However, the content is going to remain the same. The change of appearance will probably take place in two phases. First, I will install the Dokan marketplace plugin and verify that everything is working. After some days, if there are no major hiccups, I might need to install a new Wordpress theme so that Rare...

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1500, Art, Educa

1500, Educa, Walk on the Beach, Joaquín Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla was a Spanish artist that knew how to capture the bright sunlight of Valencia, his native land, as we can see in this Walk on the Beach, or Paseo a Orillas del Mar, which you can admire at the Sorolla Museum, in Madrid. This is one of his most famous paintings. Two copies of 1500, Educa, Walk on the Beach I had two copies of this puzzle and both were incomplete. However, I was hoping that perhaps both versions were compatible, so that I could get a complete copy and leave the other one for replacements. Unfortunately, they were not compatible, but I decided to assemble both copies anyway. I have completed two copies of the same puzzle more than once before, and the second time is usually very easy because you can put it together over a puzzle already finished, so it was not such a big deal. Besides, except for all the pieces of the sand, the rest was quite feasible. Very different copies When I wrote about the possibility of replacing pieces from an incomplete copy, I mentioned some of the challenges. In these two copies, I found them all. In fact, except for the image itself, the puzzles were...

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Package Lost in the Mail at Rare Puzzles

More than a year ago I wrote a blog post about shipping insurance where I gave details about the first and only shipment damaged during transit at Rare Puzzles. Since our puzzles always travel in First Class because I pack them very carefully, the chances that they get any damage are very slim, except, of course, when a major catastrophe takes place. So far, we have only had one package that received damage during transit. Fortunately, the buyer bought insurance and we recovered (after some work) all the costs. When shipping puzzles, there is a lot of backstage work that buyers are not usually aware of. Packages normally arrive to their destination within the estimated delivery time. However, there is always something happening that requires attention. Problems with shipping companies and Customs One package needed 4 months to reach to its destination in the USA. We were able to track it and watched it cross the Atlantic Ocean three times until it finally arrived. Another box went to Italy, but they sent it to a storehouse of the shipping company... 300 km away from its destination. No wonder that they kept saying they couldn't find the street. In another occasion, they returned a box to me...

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450, Art, Waddington

450, Waddington, Diana Hunting, Peter Paul Rubens

Diana Hunting is a painting that belongs to the studio of Peter Paul Rubens that you can admire at the Prado Museum in Madrid. Thanks to the company Waddington (which years later would become Waddingtons) we have this small and delightful puzzle version. It is unfortunate that jigsaw puzzle brands are not publishing puzzles with classic art anymore. Perhaps that's why puzzle enthusiasts are still looking for these puzzles 50 years after Waddinton produced them. The pieces have a lot of very different forms. In fact, there are not any rows or columns, like most contemporary puzzles. For that reason, I wouldn't know whether the puzzle was complete or not just by verifying the pieces. It was a good excuse to put together this quality puzzle. The pieces are thick and solid. Due to the great variety of the cut, it was a very enjoyable experience (albeit short). Diana the Huntress In the center of the image we can see Diana, who was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature, associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She has the identifying crescent on her head. Several nymphs are surrounding her, and one of them is...

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White Puzzle in the Movie “Sleuth” (1972)

The Japanese brand Beverly started producing not long ago some puzzles with no pattern at all. Just a solid black or a solid white puzzle. They first commercialized small 100 pieces puzzles of this type. Then they got bolder and published 150, 300, and 1000 pieces versions. Finally, they came up with a 2000 pieces version. If the level of difficulty can be measured as difficult, very difficult, and extremely difficult, this puzzle defies classification and it is defined as Torture. In fact, there is a warning in the box: For masochists only. Users refer to it as white torture, white hell, pure hell, or pure white hell. There are some people that have completed the 1000 pieces version, but not many brave enough to attempt the 2000 pieces version. I wonder whether it is more difficult than the 5000 version by Ravensburger of The Night Watch. One day, talking about puzzles and movies, @aschenbach13 pointed out that there was an old movie where such puzzle appeared: Sleuth, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1972. That means that they came up with the idea of a white puzzle 40 years before the Japanese manufacturer. A white puzzle and other games Andrew Wyke (Laurence Olivier) is a successful...

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1500, Art, MB

1500, MB, It’s a Doge’s Life on the Grand Canal, Clarke

This puzzle is very unusual, and it is not just because it only has two corners. It is an illustration of the Grand Canal in Venice with a lot of really minute details. Although the title in the box is simply Venice, the complete title of the illustration is It's a Doge's Life on the Grand Canal, by Graham Clarke. MB produced it in 1992. When I verified the puzzle, I got 1504 pieces. However, due to the very particular shape, there was no way to know whether the puzzle was complete or incomplete. For that reason, I put it together eventually, and I'm glad I did. The pieces have a very snug fit that I liked, although they seemed slightly different to other MB puzzles. I found the puzzle more challenging than I had expected. Buildings, boats, ships, inscriptions, text... There are a lot of details that are difficult to distinguish unless you have very good eyesight or you look very, very close. This puzzle would probably have been more enjoyable in 3000 pieces. In any case, it was very fun and it was luckily complete. I listed it later in the online store and the puzzle went to new hands...

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500, Art, Nathan

500, Nathan, The Gypsy Girl, by Frans Hals

The Gypsy Girl is a beautiful small puzzle that the company Fernand Nathan published in 1973. The name of Fernand Nathan still appeared in the boxes of Nathan puzzles manufactured in the 70's. It was a publishing company that Fernand Nathan started in 1881 and continued to be a family business until 1979. After that, the name Nathan remained, but the company passed to other hands. We tend to repeat too often that past times were better. However, this is quite true with regards to the choices that jigsaw puzzle companies are making these days when they select their images for their catalogs. For that reason, it is so refreshing to find these old little gems. It seems that Nathan had much better taste 40 years ago than today. A refreshing Gypsy Girl Frans Hals was a master of portrait. For that reason, it is no surprise that this portrait is a masterpiece. Hals was a master of the technique of painting with a visible brushstroke (something previously seen as a flaw). Vincent van Gogh admired his technique, and in the 19th century, many artists would follow it, particularly among the Impressionists. So, we can say that Hals introduced in the 17th century a...

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1500, Art, Ravensburger

1500, Ravensburger, The Dinner at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, Jeanniot

The Dinner at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, by Pierre-Georges Jeanniot, is not one of my favorite puzzles. That doesn't mean it is not a nice and entertaining puzzle, which it is. Besides, it is always a pleasure to complete a Ravensburger puzzle due to the good quality of their pieces. However, I don't think I would have chosen it in the first place if I had had a choice. We are all human and we all make mistakes. I sold this puzzle to a customer in Poland, complete and with the pieces in excellent condition. However, when my customer finished the puzzle, he discovered that there was a foreign piece. That meant that the puzzle was actually incomplete. Ops! I think I can always detect foreign pieces, but I couldn't detect this one. I found and bought another copy of the puzzle, hoping that it would be compatible with my customer's copy. That way, I could get a replacement piece for him. However, the copy was not compatible. Then, I assembled the puzzle and sent it to my customer in layers. Eventually he had the whole puzzle replaced and his work putting it together was not lost. At home at the Hotel...

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750, Art, Nathan

750, Nathan, Hunting near Fontainebleau, Carle Vernet

When I verify an incomplete puzzle, I always hope that I made a mistake, but that never happens. The Hunting near Fontainebleau had two missing pieces when I verified it, and it had two missing pieces when I completed it. It's a shame, because it is a small beautiful puzzle that now will be added to the Missing Pieces repository. Hunting at Fontainebleau Today Carle Vernet lived and worked between the 18th and the 19th century. The hunting scene that he captured might look like something from the past. It is difficult to imagine that the artist could have painted it just last Winter. The Forest of Fontainebleau, which is only 60 km. away from Paris, is a very popular location for tourists. However, it has also been a hunting place for around 1000 years. They still hunt deer with horses and hounds, although following certain restrictions (only Tuesdays and Saturdays, from October to February). Apart from that, there is no major difference between the scene that Vernet painted two hundred years ago. We could see that same scene at the Forest of Fontainebleau in the present. These smaller puzzles are a good relief when you have been working for some time on a...

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5000, Art, Ravensburger

5000, Ravensburger, The Night Watch, Rembrandt

There is a reason why The Night Watch, which Ravensburger produced in 1977, still appears quite often (usually in used condition), despite the fact that it is more than 40 years old. Other large puzzles of the late 70's and 80's are very rare, like Country Fair, for example, which Ravensburger published just two years later. Now that I have completed it, I know the reason. It is one of the most difficult jigsaw puzzles out there. I remember when I completed years ago the 6000 pieces Schmidt version of The Allegory of Spring. Back then, I felt it was a real challenge to complete those last thousand pieces, which were mostly dark. In this case, it was the other way around. After placing one thousand pieces, I had around four thousand pieces left that were mostly dark. This puzzle doesn't compare to any puzzle that I have assembled before. In fact, I have now the feeling that I got my Master's Degree in puzzles. Before The Night Watch, I was just an undergraduate student. Now I truly feel that I can put together ANY jigsaw puzzle. The Night Watch becomes the "Nightmare". Soon after you place all the pieces that have distinct fields...

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1000, Art, Clementoni

1000, Clementoni, Moulin Rouge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

When I started this puzzle, I knew that there was a missing piece. It should have 999 pieces, but there were only 998 pieces. Some time ago, when this happened, I used to verify the puzzle a second time. My hope was that I had made a mistake, but the second verification gave always the same result. It was a shame, because this puzzle by Clementoni with a poster of the Moulin Rouge by Toulouse-Lautrec was very unusual. However, after buying more than 200 incomplete puzzles, it is not disappointing anymore. It's part of what we do at Rare Puzzles: being sure that we only list the complete ones. Initially, I was listing the incomplete puzzles in the online store at very low prices. However, when I decided to start the Missing Pieces replacement service, I thought it was better to keep them, put them together, and offer them for replacements. So, I have accepted the idea that I am now a puzzle enthusiast that will only assemble incomplete puzzles. Moulin Rouge: La Goulue That is the complete title of this poster by Toulouse-Lautrec. It was a color lithograph from 1891. Although they printed around 3000 copies, most of them were pasted as...

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