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Puzzle Manufacture: New Puzzles from Poland

2020 was a very tough year for everybody. Most of us have been affected by the pandemic or know someone who has been affected. At the same time, we feel that our perspective has shifted and we don't see the world as it used to be just a year ago. We had a sense of security that has vanished now, and it seems we are still living in uncertain times. Puzzle Manufacture was born in the midst of uncertainty. Interestingly, the restrictions and confinements forced people to remain inside, with a lot of free time and little things to do. Puzzle boxes that had been stored for years appeared again at the bottom of drawers, and families retook hobbies that were very common before high speed Internet and smartphones, like board games and jigsaw puzzles. As a consequence, 2020 rekindled this hobby among a lot of people, and the sales of puzzles skyrocketed during the worst times of the pandemic. For the puzzle community, that was a silver lining among those cloudy 2020 skies. And yet, the best thing that happened to the puzzle world...

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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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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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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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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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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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A New Project to Complement Rare Puzzles

Today, I have started a new project: www.tupuzzle.com. Since 2015, I have been able to help a lot of puzzle fans and enthusiasts to increase their collections. I purposely avoided the expression "complete their collections" because we all know it is impossible. Hardcore puzzle fans always find new projects. In any case, I didn't leave any stone unturned in order to locate puzzles everywhere. Later, I put them all together in a single place where anyone could get them. Many people found it much easier to buy them at Rare Puzzles instead of spending their time and effort looking for them. After a long learning experience (and around 200 incomplete puzzles that their owners sold me as complete), Rare Puzzles has started to take form and consolidate, although there are still a lot of features that we need to include. If fact, it is a never ending process, but the site is improving one step at a time. It is interesting to consider how things happen sometimes, even when we had different plans. Since Rare Puzzles specializes in out of catalog puzzles, I couldn't include in the store current puzzles from different brands that are widely available in stores. If I had done...

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Legal Information Added

The website has been under maintenance for a whole week. I apologize for it. I have been writing all the legal information and i took longer than expected. There was some mandatory information that Rare Puzzles didn't include, so we were out of compliance. For that reason, I couldn't open it again until all the documentation was ready. Some parts of it were very technical and some other parts were not easy to develop. But the work is done now. These documents are legal information requirements and will appear from now on at the footer of the site. All users must know and accept them: Legal Notice. Terms & Conditions. Privacy Policy. Cookies Policy. And some more news very soon...

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February 4th 2018: International World Cancer Day

February 4th is the international World Cancer Day, founded by the Union for the International Cancer Control. It tries to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. However, the primary goal of the World Cancer Day is to reduce illness and death caused by cancer. If you are reading this post, chances are that cancer has touched your life or it will do it in the future. I learned it myself not long ago. I also learned to separate things that are important from things that are not. Cancer brings a lot of perspective and it helps to set priorities. Donations on World Cancer Day Today I have donated all the sales commissions collected during 2017 to the Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer. They do a great job here in Spain. The Association provides information, supports research, organizes campaigns and runs programs to support families. They even have a 24/7 toll free number to provide help to patients, caregivers and relatives. However, their help comes often in a very humble form. Perhaps a volunteer listening to you in the waiting room of a hospital. There are similar associations in most countries. The American Cancer Society is one of the most...

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Should I Buy Insurance when Shipping my Puzzles?

When you buy a very rare puzzle on the site, perhaps a puzzle that you have been searching for years, you want to be sure that it arrives at its destination in the same condition it left Rare Puzzles. Some visitors or new customers encourage me to pack their puzzles carefully. After that, they have to decide whether they want shipping insurance or not. We all have received very poorly packed shipments when buying on other online stores or on eBay. Are you familiar with these? Puzzle boxes just wrapped with a couple of thin pages from a newspaper. Wrapping paper that has been taped onto the original puzzle box and then it's impossible to remove. Loose puzzles within too large cardboard boxes. The puzzle opens inside because they didn't even tape it closed and the pieces are loose all over the place. However, if you have ever bought one of my puzzles, then you know you don't need to worry about packaging. Why? Because they will very likely be the best packages that you will receive. This is what a typical box will look like. Two layers of palletizing plastic protect each puzzle, even puzzles that are brand new and also keep the...

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Puzzle Auctions. How much is a puzzle worth?

Many out of catalog puzzles are true collector's items. Puzzle fans search for them and try to buy them in auctions websites. When the puzzle is really rare, the auctions final prices can reach surprising limits, since very motivated sellers keep bidding against each other. How much is a puzzle worth? It all depends on the buyer's motivation. Sometimes a person has been looking for a puzzle for a long time, perhaps years. For that reason, she will be willing to do anything possible to get it. After all, there is no way to know when it will appear again. Some amazing auctions Cartoon puzzles sell consistently at higher prices than art puzzles. Some of the large Heye puzzles have recently passed the 1,000 USD selling price, which is a surprising benchmark. In 2016, the 8000, Heye, New York, Factory Sealed was sold on eBay for 3,050 US dollars. That's 0.381 USD per piece. Until July 16, 2017, that was the highest selling price I had seen for a jigsaw puzzle. The 2000, Central Hobby, Villefranche, Teppei Sasakura, Factory Sealed reached 100,000 Japanese yens, or 893 US dollars. That's 0.446 USD per piece. Teppei Sasakura is truly a very interesting artist and illustrator, and the puzzle is beautiful. So, how...

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Sometimes People Lie

I recently wrote a post saying that most people are honest. At least, I have come to that conclusion after having completed a lot of transactions with a lot of people everywhere. I have had my share of disappointments when buying puzzles, but even in those cases I try not to presume bad intentions. However, not long ago I had a negative experience on eBay UK and I am convinced that the seller was dishonest. Judge by yourselves. I bought the 5000, Falcon, Celebration on the Occasion of the Anniversary of the Military Order of Maria Theresa 1861. The puzzle was described as 100% complete. The puzzle was sent to my friend in the UK and later shipped to me three months after I bought it. When I verified the puzzle there were 8 missing pieces. I contacted the seller through eBay. After a week, no answer. I opened a dispute through PayPal, my first PayPal dispute, asking how he knew that the puzzle was 100% complete, as he had stated in the description. He said that the puzzle was complete and his wife had verified the puzzle two times. He was familiar with Rare Puzzles an he assumed that I had resold the puzzle because it appeared...

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Missing Piece Replacement

I have been considering for some time the possibility of starting a service to replace missing pieces in old puzzles. Educa's Lost Piece Service is useful, but when the puzzle is 8 years old, replacements are not available anymore. The Jigsaw Doctor is a great alternative, and the people that have used the service are happy with the work, but... What if it was possible to replace a missing piece in an old puzzle with a matching original piece? I have my lot of assembled incomplete puzzles. Perhaps some people might need a piece from my puzzle to complete their incomplete copy. Surely other users have another incomplete puzzle that they might be willing to offer for replacements. With time, it is possible to build a repository of puzzles available from many different users. Can it be done? I got input from visitors and customers, and I went back and forth without making up my mind until I recently completed 4 copies in a row of the 3000, Ravensburger, Oriental Folk Scene. It has helped me learn about puzzles and about the limitations of a lost piece replacement service. First of all, the same puzzle may have been manufactured at different times of the same year using...

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People are Honest (Most of the Time)

I once bought a puzzle that was described as new. I had specifically asked whether the puzzle was new or used, and the seller told me that it was new. Then, I received this: After having bought more than 1000 puzzles all over the world, I think I have been scammed in every continent. I don't take it personally anymore. It just happens. And yet, I can confidently say that most people are honest. I never presume bad intentions, and I tend to think that the cases in which the seller knows positively that he is lying are the exceptions. Of course, I have had some of those too. Most of the times, the seller simply doesn't distinguish between new and like new. In his opinion, the puzzle is new because, after all, it was just opened once but never assembled. But the buyer cannot read his mind. When the puzzle arrives, he opens it, and it doesn't match the description, it is too late. Even when most sellers will be willing to accept a return, they will not accept refunding the shipping costs and you end up losing. It is very rare that people will take full responsibility. How to avoid this? You need to ask...

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Buying Used Puzzles

We all know how it feels when we buy a used puzzle and it is incomplete. Sometimes we know long before the puzzle is assembled, when we feel it's impossible we have missed that corner piece, or there is no way the white piece we are missing will be among all the dark ones that are left. What if that happens with the same puzzle... 7 times? The 3000, Ravensburger, Oriental Folk Scene has been jinxed for me. Almost every time I found a copy and got it, the copy was not right and it couldn't be listed for sale. After verifying the puzzle, there were missing pieces, foreign pieces, damaged pieces, poorly manufactured pieces to replace a missing one... There was always something. That's why at Rare Puzzles all the used puzzles listed are complete and in good condition to the best of my knowledge. In order to list a good one, sometimes seven are discarded. And if I make a mistake, I am always accountable.

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Some Updates

Thank you very much to everyone who has provided input about features and appearance of the new website. The new Wordpress theme has been giving me some trouble for some time, but some issues are being solved. Here are some updates: The problem with the display of the images in the catalog has been (finally) solved. The images were not cropped proportionally and visitors couldn't see the whole picture of the box. That same problem remains in the single product page, but the solution for that is also close. The side navigation that allows users to filter the puzzles based on Brand, Content, Condition, and Number of Pieces was added after it was disappeared for some time. The option to include an additional filter to select In-Stock/Out-of-Stock puzzles is not feasible in Wordpress except with some tweaking of the code, which is beyond my knowledge at this point. However, in order to make the navigation easier, the Out-of-Stock items have been removed from the catalog. They are still indexed in search engines and they still appear in searches within the site, but only available puzzles are now listed. The shipping module has not been working, and users received the frustrating message...

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Testing the New Website

Here we go. During the next coming days you will often see the site down for maintenance and going back and forth through different changes and variations. It is because I am testing the different modules to be sure that everything keeps working. I hope the transition will not bee too bumpy. Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated at [email protected] (Photograph by vagawi).

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Raúl

This post is difficult to write, and perhaps I shouldn't write it at all. However, now that the site is changing, it is important to provide some background on the genesis of Rare Puzzles and a reference for the future. The core and heart of Rare Puzzles is in this post. In March of 2015, my brother Raúl was diagnosed with Klatskin tumor, a very uncommon type of cancer and extremely rare for patients in their 40's. It was inoperable and incurable. I was then working and living in Los Angeles, CA and decided to come back to Spain and be close to my brother for whatever time left he had. I quit my job, sold almost everything I owned, and took a flight back to Madrid. I am sure that most of you have been touched by cancer one way or another. I have learned that cancer doesn't leave any family untouched, so you probably know what it looks like. Raúl's cancer started to set our schedules, our routines, and our plans. Patients and caregivers. I knew I wanted to be there 24/7. I didn't want to have a job schedule. I wanted to be able to pick up my car keys at any moment and drive my mom to or from...

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Selling your Puzzles

The site will open for members to sell their own puzzles soon. I have been doing a lot of research in order to decide what type of software would do the work. Although the platform will remain the same, the appearance of the site is going to change. I hope it will be for the better. What this means is that other users will be able to open their own "stores" at Rare Puzzles, list their own items, set their own prices, and ship to whatever countries they wish. There will be some initial restrictions though: Members will need previous approval through a simple request form. Products listed will be reviewed for approval as well, at least in the beginning. Only Factory Sealed and Sealed Bag puzzles will be listed for now. Only out of catalog puzzles will be listed. It will be something similar to listing them on Ebay, but without insertion fees, without time limitations, and for half of Ebay's commissions. The payment preferred method will still be PayPal, since it provides the best protection for buyers and sellers. Terms and Conditions pages will be inserted covering all these details. And there will be some challenges, like creating highly customizable shipping options, or dealing with currency. However, we will work it out. Suggestions and ideas will always be...

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