Notes from Puzzle Palace

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Puzzles and news.

This past week I was browsing Etsy like one does and came across this seller of chopsticks cum puzzle maker.  I purchased 5 puzzles and thought that would be the end of it.  Later that day I recieved a message asking if I would like a 6th puzzle that he hadn't listed.  Sure, why not, the price was good and I am all for completeness.  The puzzles arrived rather quickly, and I brought them in for George to see. He of course put them into Burr Tools as is his standard MO.  

I bought the puzzles because I liked the idea of using reclaimed cutoffs to make them.  The thought of using all those bits rather than tossing or burning them appealed to me.  When I looked at the puzzles I was originally purchasing them to add to the collection.  James gave me a good piece of advice, he said I couldn't possibly purchase all of the puzzles I saw, but should go for a variety.  I've had a breadth over depth philosophy for a while now and this was an extension of that.  Ok.  Ok.  We don't talk about twisty puzzles, or Berrocals...

As it turned out, these were fun little things that would be wonderful gateway puzzles.  They are simple  enough for newbies but with enough of a challenge to keep them going for a while.  They are puzzles you can put on your coffee table and not worry about taking hours to solve if they get mucked up.  I rather enjoyed the scrap pack box while George's favorite was the stealth bomber.  I think he liked the single color of the main piece.  I'm eager to see what his pieces numbered 4 through 9 are like.

Yes, those are a few Pro puzzles by Peter Heim.  No, I haven't opened them yet.  I'm not that clever. 

On Puzzle Palace news, nothing more exciting than puzzle hunting is happening here.  I have spent the last week doing a good clean up of our home.  The people who were to put the first epoxy layers on the garage floor in the museum came down with COVID and are (thankfully) putting us on hold for 2 more weeks. Nothing else has happened here. I should be grateful for the downtime.  Next week the landscaping will be done at Puzzle Palace, then it's replacing the pool decking and all will be finished until the next go round. 

Finally, I will copy a post from Jame's webpage. Now I know this is not news to my few readers, but I am posting it for two reasons.  The first is the line in red.  I ask that this be respected and that the emails  asking me to sell our duplicates stop.  We haven't even recieved the collection yet and I feel as though the vultures are circling.  I'm spending all too much time repeating that we will not sell or trade anything for 3 more years. 

The second is to show how long James has been looking for a home for his collection.  We are honored that he chose us to carry on the guardianship of this impressive collection.  We can't begin to thank him enough.  



Great News from The Puzzle Museum. We are delighted to announce that we have a new home for The Puzzle Museum puzzle collections.

For many years we have been looking for a suitable home for the puzzles in Museums and Universities in the United Kingdom or Europe. They were amazed at the huge breadth of the collections and admired its great educational value, but all pleaded either lack of space or or lack of funding. We were therefore absolutely delighted when George and Roxanne Miller offered to take over the collection and house it in a beautiful and specially converted house near Miami, Florida where they plan to continue to keep it available for the puzzle community and for researchers to study. They also plan to continue adding to it for the future.

As of March 2021 the puzzles and puzzle books are being shipped to Miami. We expect the collection soon to be renamed to include the Miller name. James Dalgety and his family will continue to look after around 500 representative mechanical puzzles which will be recorded as part of the Hordern-Dalgety Collection but not housed in Miami.

James Dalgety retains the rather neglected ephemera and printed materials which he hopes to catalogue in coming years, along with his collection of hidden compartment items. He will continue to buy new puzzles for his own amusement also antique puzzles for both himself and for the collection in Miami. He also hopes to spend more time walking the dogs, playing with his old games, toys, computer games, and other crazy accumulations of stuff. This website will remain but its future emphasis will be on adding information on the older puzzles, ephemera, and perhaps some digressions into antique toys, games, &c..

We wish every success to the Miller's Puzzle Museum in Florida. It will take at least 6 months to be unpacked at its destination and there will be no sale or swapping of duplicates for at least 3 years - We will post details here when appropriate.

To see the progress of the Museum building in Florida please go to Roxanne Miller's blog.

Older Status reports.

The Puzzle Museum - Status and Objectives as stated in 2017.

The Puzzle Museum is a private collection-based museum. Owing to lack of appropriate facilities, it is not currently open to the general public. Visitors, mostly world experts in the field, can come by invitation, or recommendation only. Unfortunately this is unlikely to change until we can find a permanent institutional home for the collection.

In the 1990s much time was spent trying to find suitable premises to open to the public but, unfortunately, we were not successful. Ironically, since that time several major collections have been given to the museum, including the incomparable Hordern Collection, and the overall collection has quadrupled in size and has to be held at various different locations. It has now outgrown its original ambition of being a tourism based museum and has become an important international research archive. 

The collection is the finest of its type in the world. It is the product of over 140 years of collecting by about ten different people.

The collection includes a few items of great antiquity; however its main strengths are the 19th Century European collection, and its near comprehensive collection of puzzles from the last quarter of the 20th Century. It amounts to several tens of thousands of puzzles, plus ephemera and a related library of around 2500 books. It is possibly 1,000 times larger than needed for a tourist based puzzle museum but is unique as an international archive. It is extraordinary that, unlike such items as Dolls, Watches, Model Trains, Worcester teapots or Chippendale chairs, there is no comparable collection of Puzzles open to the public anywhere in the world. The Puzzle Museum has therefore given itself the following objectives: -

  • To produce an annotated digital photographic overview of the collection. The current plan is for this to be made freely available on the museum's website (at low resolution) and to be made available at high resolution, at a price, on CDs.
  • To maintain and conserve the existing collection for future generations. The collection is currently stored at several locations with basic controls of humidity and temperature. The policy with damaged puzzles is, where possible, to ensure that they work as intended; but otherwise to conserve them with the minimum of interference. It is considered that attempting to restore to "original condition" does more harm than good.
  • To add to, and improve, the collection by upgrading the existing collection, and purchasing representative examples of new puzzles.
  • To find a suitable home to ensure the long-term future of the collection. This will either be in a public museum or with a private collector who is able and willing to adopt these objectives.
  • To enable at least parts of the collection to be seen by a much wider audience, and take advantage of the collection's huge potential as a didactic resource in many fields including Mathematics, History, 19th and 20th century Design, Packaging Design and, most importantly, the development of analytical thinking over the past 300 years.
  • To produce a comprehensive and detailed catalogue of the collection.
  • To look for funding and other means of achieving these objectives.

In the absence of any external funding and with a current staff of less than two, it is obvious that we have a big puzzle and a big challenge... If you know of any prospective long term home for the collection, please ask them to contact us.


upd. 2021-04-14

Sunday, April 11, 2021

A puzzle for the G-man

 I've got this millennial who likes to go thrifting and at the same time found myself in need of a few putters for the newly installed putting green.  This was a marriage made in heaven.  We took off last Friday morning and hit around 20 thrift and antique stores on the hunt for the afore mentioned putters and anything that struck her fancy.  

After our 6th stop, Katherine came over to where I was checking for putters and handed me a white pitcher with the letters G and M printed in gold on either side.  She was confused as to what it was and decided it was a puzzle of sorts.  She also like the letters on the side and decided it meant George Miller.  She generously paid her dollar and seven cents for the piece and brought it home as a gift for the G-Man (the kid chose the nickname, not us). 

Mom of course recognized it for what it was as soon as I saw it, but was thrilled that the kid and the old man get along so well.  Katherine handed over her gift when we returned home, and they spent quite a while trying to work out what it was.  They started out thinking it was something like a justice cup.  Eventually I told them it was a gravy boat.  This lead to quite a long time spent searching the web to understand the meaning of the letters.  As it turns out it an antique French boat that allows the user to choose either fat (graisse) or lean (maigre) gravy.  The side with the M has a longer spout that allows the gravy to be poured from the bottom eliminating the fat that settles on the top.  We have no idea where this was made, or when but it sure made for an interesting afternoon read and a bit of dinner conversation.  This is our first porcelain 'puzzle' for the museum.  Thank you Katherine!

On to the Museum build. I am very pleased that the landscaping has finally been finished.  It looks fantastic. Very tropical and slightly jungle-like.  The electricians came over and put in one more outlet in the garage for the wine cooler and placed all the Lutron switches.  They should be finishing up some time next week.  I'm hopeful that the guys get back inside and mount the rest of the cabinets soon.  We have the solar installation from 3-6 May so that is another thing to look forward to.  The garage floor will get it's first coat of epoxy and the base white epoxy in preparation for the designs we will eventually have installed on the floor.  We also had all of the "Northern" trees removed from Puzzle Palace along with a few dead palms.  Landscaping begins here on Wednesday.  
A bit of retained jungle

Newly planted Birds of Paradise

The asparagus grass has all been removed from the pool area

Hedges trimmed and asparagus grass removed

River rocks have been laid
Last week I posted an easter egg in one of the photos.  I'm sad to say, I don't think anyone noticed. This week I add a visitor to the museum.  Can you spot him? 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Another long wanted puzzle found

 When I acquired my first Berrocal and discovered the ring inside, I began hunting down other puzzle rings. Of course, I had a few from days long past, but these were the bog standard 4 piece rings. When I went online and looked up puzzle rings, a few names came up: José Grant, Puzzle Ring Maker, and Miguel Berrocal.  This got me started on a hunt for this Berrocal jigsaw puzzle ring that I had seen.

I later discovered that it was not a Berrocal, but a ring by Antonio Bernardo of Brazil. I loved this ring so much, and not being able to find one, I had George design one similar to it on his computer.  We sent it off to a 3D print shop in Hong Kong to have made in plastic which we were later going to have made into metal.  Because of the difficulty with the material being used to print the puzzle, it never really worked well and we abandoned the idea. Perhaps now that he has his SLS printer we can revisit his original work. 

 I then spent the next 11 years hunting one down.  I finally found a shop last year in of all places, Hong Kong, that sells the rings.  The price was ok, and I thought on my next trip over I may pick one up.  But as usual for me, I kept hunting.  I found one of the square rings on Poshmark, and when I went back an hour or so later to purchase it, the ring was gone.  Around 3 months later, I found the rounded one on eBay and snatched it up before it could disappear!  When it got here, it was tarnished and in need of a good clean.  George and I set out to make it look beautiful again and I think we achieved our goal.  The ring I purchased is .925 silver and is very heavy.  The pieces fit together very precisely.  There is very little wiggle room.  It has now become my favorite puzzle ring after, of course, my wedding band. 

The ring can still be purchased from the designer, albeit in tri-colored gold.  Currently it is 15% off.  Now that's a bargain!  In 2010 the design won an award at Essen.  I quote from the designers facebook page: 

Once more a design by Antonio Bernardo has been internationally acknowledged and awarded. The Brazilian designer will receive his second Red Dot Design Award - one of the world's most distinguished design prizes, annually held by Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, in Germany. The Round Puzzle Ring received the Red Dot Award in Product Design, as had the Expand Ring in 2004. The Round Puzzle Ring is one of Antonio Bernardo's most elaborate designs. The Puzzle Ring was launched in 2006, born from a self imposed challenge the designer had to create a jewel made up of various parts, capable of being assembled and taken apart. Three years later, Antonio Bernardo added to the pursuit when he imagined a curved version for this ring. Made up of 8 pieces, the curved surface requires even more ingenuity so that the parts fit perfectly. "The Round Puzzle Ring is a playful jewel." explains Antonio Bernardo. Created by Peter Zec in 1955, the Red Dot Design Award honors and awards designers and products which are outstanding in creativity and excellence. Each year the jurors - an international group of renowned designers and design experts - validate the award's importance, based on criteria such as innovation, functionality and formal quality." 

"PUZZLE CURVO - One of the most complex pieces ever created by Antonio Bernardo, the Puzzle Curvo ring, composed of eight small pieces, has a rounded shape. Because it has a curved surface, it required even more ingenuity for the pieces to fit together in a way that was imperceptible to anyone looking at the ring."  

I agree with this assessment.  It is a beautiful piece and if you didn't know that it comes apart, it looks more like the puzzle is etched into the surface of the ring.  When disassembling the ring, there is a central shaft that comes out first.  Then the central long puzzle piece comes out and finally, the other pieces simply fall off.  The shank is divided into two pieces that slide apart.  Puzzling wise, it's much more difficult than it looks. The pieces are made such that they can only assemble one way.  If the main shaft is turned around, it won't fit in the puzzle.  

One more wanted puzzle found, now for the next one; an illusionist locket in ebony and silver.

On to the museum build: 

This week I am pleased to report that all of the puzzles have been picked up from James' and are on their way to the warehouse where they will be placed in a container and sent to their final destination in Sunny South Florida. We've had no workers in the museum other than to sort out the security lights that weren't being very secure and to cut a few more holes in the wall to install a few more light switches.  

We did however, finally finish a major puzzle over at Puzzle Palace.  George designed a pentomino alphabet and we had a mosaic made for the front step.  Initially I had a outdoor carpet made for it, but the sun here faded it quickly and we threw it away.  One dreamy day, I said why not make a mosaic using the logo and Puzzle Palace just like the carpet I had made.  This later turned into the pentomino alphabet and we went for it.  You will notice that each letter has 12 pentominoes in it.  The only letter that is unique is the E.  See if you can spot how he redesigned it.  To finish it off, we got rid of the last of the awful red painted tiles that made up the front steps and replaced it with a marble that matches that on the inside of the house. A little paint touchup on the stucco side and all will be right as rain.  I think the finished piece looks amazing.  As usual, the folks over at Genesis did a great job for us.  Maybe I'll next have them put the street number on the garage using the pentomino numbers George created. 

I'll close by wishing every a very Happy Easter from George and I. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021


Way back in 2003 I was searching the toy shops in Hong Kong and came across this bag of seven 2x2x2 puzzles.  They were the Gundam Rubik's Cube series made by palbox.  I took a photo, sent an email to a friend and asked what he thought about them.  The price was rather steep at the time.  HK$100 each.  I guess that comes out to around US$90.  His reply was if I didn't want them to buy them for him and he'd double the price I paid.  Well, this sent off alarm bells as it were and I purchased the set.  The seller said they were so cheap because Zaku was missing.  Well, for the past 18 years I have been hunting for that Zaku.  This past month a fellow twisty puzzler gave me a heads up and said it would go too high for his wallet.  I lucked out and no one bid against me and Zaku has finally come to join his fellow robots. I won't say how much it cost, but given what I paid for the first 7, overall, it was not too expensive.  One less hunt for me.

My next purchase this weeks was a complete set of the Hanayama Cast Puzzle Micro!'s.  Now this is a silly purchase.  I have all but one piece.  I was missing the cast enigma micro and when I saw this set come up, I jumped on it.  I think this set came out to something like US$8 per piece.  I couldn't pass that up.  Now we have extras to add to the treasure chest.  

And now on to the progress of the museum.  This week we had more workers at the big house than here.  The A/C guys moved around a bunch of pipes, laid some flooring, and just really cleaned up the attic space.  We now have another 200 square feet or so of additional storage.  

The museum saw a few art pieces placed, the garage painted in preparation for the epoxy flooring, and a whole lot of Kallax boxes were built.  I had one guy here on Monday to paint the ceilings, but I decided that placement of the Berrocal paintings was much more important.  Scott was meticulous in his placement.  I told him what was in my head and he placed them exactly as I wanted them.  This wall never sees direct sunlight, and we have placed the upper eyeballs so they reflect down on the paintings without having a glare from the glass.  

I framed and George hung a Escher-esque 3 layer jigsaw puzzle.  It was meant to have a piece of plexiglass between each of the layers, but we realized that it looks so much better without them.  The obvious place for this was above the Escher-like stairs we have in the museum. 

George went wild and put together 24 Kallax boxes for the master bedroom walls.  It will be perfect when finished.  I just love the placement of them.  If you stand in the bedroom and look at the reflection in the glass wall while gazing upon the 26' vase wall, the boxes blend into each other.  When they are filled, it will be stunning.  In this room we decided to stack the boxes right up to the ceiling where we can.  The boxes have not been mounted yet so what you see in the photo is not yet completed. Forgive the messy bed.  We are between houses right now.  Everything is a mess.  George has assembled an additional 26 boxes to be placed in the garage.  He's an absolute pro at this now.  

We've been told that 720 packing boxes have been completed.  All but 3 cabinets and 14 packed boxes have been picked up.  This is very exciting for us.  We expect them to be on the ship soon and hopefully they will be in Miami by the beginning of summer.  James said he figured it will take us 3 months with occasional helpers to unpack all of the boxes.  Our plan is to head over to the local university, hire two student helpers in the photography department to photograph while George unpacks and I place puzzles.  It is going to be a real project.  I'm beginning to think we may not be fully done in time for Boca Bash but that will make it all the more fun for our guests.  I'm hopeful it will be all done by the time we have set for our museum opening for the club in November.  

Next week we will have more painters in the house, but that is it for a few weeks while we wait for a white epoxy base to be put into the garage floor.  Our winning competition design will be placed over the top of this.  We really want these to pop out at you when looked at.  It seems that the recent weather has caused havoc with all shipping.  We are a victim of this as well.  Our general contractors are filling in jobs when they get the supplies they need so we have been put to the back burner.  This is fine with us, we are helping a friend by giving him the work, and it gives us a break from the museum.  I'm actually looking forward to this downtime when I can just move back home and enjoy Puzzle Palace. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

A typical day at the museum

 Most people wake up, have a cup of coffee, get dressed and go to work.  We like to be a bit more leisurely in our morning routine.  We enjoy a cuddle while watching highlights from The Late Show, or John Oliver.  After that, we do our exercise, have a glass of juice in bed and take a nice hot shower before dressing and starting the day. By now it's 10 am.  

I head into the office to search the auction sites for puzzles we are wanting to obtain while George putters around with his 3D printers, or designs new puzzles on his computer.  Around noon I head to the kitchen to make lunch for us and we park our bottoms outside to watch the golfers go by while we enjoy a long lunch.  

The afternoon is dedicated to a nap for George and a bit of puzzling for me or a round of golf. I'm currently attempting to put together all of the crystal puzzles I have so when new ones come out I will be caught up.  Dinner in the evenings is a leisurely affair either in front of the big screen with a movie George has been wanting to see, or in the breakfast room with candles lit and a good bottle of wine.  

But now all of that has changed.  It's jump out of bed at the first ping on my phone because the work crews are coming in, lunch gets started around 10 because we usually have a crew of at least 8 to feed.  George is busy building shelving units while I am working on organization of what is about to come in.  At night I make dinner and we collapse.  We purchased an air mattress for the museum and have been using it for the past month since we started working there.  This past week we finally decided to sleep in our own bed.  How wonderful it is.  Such a simple thing.  

But you don't want to read about my daily life, what you are interested in is information on the transfer of puzzles.  The movers have begun packing puzzles and they will be boarding a ship soon.  We've been told they estimate that 1/3 of the puzzles have been packed up and moved into storage. The trip across the ocean will take a month, then it's the wait for customs and driving them up to us.  Yes, I said them.  This will take TWO containers to get to us.  TWO.  I had no idea.  Then there is the unpacking....AND, I'm still working on that catalogue...

These shelves look very different from the last time I saw them.

One truck down, so many more to go.

On to the museum progress. The library is finished and from the looks of the photos James has sent us, we will need every inch of space. George is experimenting with his phone camera. The shelves are flat, I promise. 

The garage powder room has had all the disentanglement hooks installed, and the bar cum laundry room hooks have been painted and hung.  The shelving above the washer/dryer have been installed and are awaiting painting and trim.  The doors to close off the washer and dryer are on order.  George calls this area the room of 1000 erections.  We plan to keep wire disentanglements here.  Should we run out of space in these two rooms, we have at least 4 more areas in mind to put them.

The holes in the walls have been patched, the shelves are being covered for painting and the hook has been placed in the ceiling to hold a puzzle sculpture we have coming in. 

The ceiling has been painted, the calking work has been completed in the library and all the book shelves have been remounted so we can get to the electrical outlets, and finally the under-stairs cabinets have been built.  It's amazing how many small details go into putting this place together.  The guy calking the bookshelves in the photo below didn't like the way they looked when mounted so he has now trimmed them all and has done a real bang up job on making these Ikea book cases look like they were purpose-made for the space.

This set of cubies is a double set of Kallax boxes with  a custom made end that weighs a ton.  It was measured to fit the width of two Kallax boxes and the angle of the stairs.  It simply didn't look right with out the addition.  

Tomorrow I take one more load of the Kallax boxes from Ikea.  This time it's much smaller.  I believe we only have around 53 of them coming in.  It should take a week to assemble and place them.  After that, They will be on their final push to be mounted and the garage floor needs finishing off.  Then it's just waiting on the arrival of the puzzles.  This project is a puzzle cave in the extreme. When we started it, we had a dream.  We had no idea how much work would go into actually bringing that dream to fruition.  

Finally, a bit of puzzle candy: Three for the price of one. This museum piece belongs in a museum.  Open the drawers and you will find surprises a plenty.  The golf ball is hanging off the edge because I got tired of finding it each time someone wants to see the marquetry.  And of course, what's a museum without a dinosaur skeleton or two-yes, they are puzzles!  Made by Beverly for the Japanese market.

It's all coming along nicely now.  I am eager for July to roll around so we can start unboxing and installing puzzles.  That's when the real fun begins. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Cataloging puzzles and databases and mini-competition

 Today's blog post is a plea for ideas and help.  I have been studying the Hordern-Dalgety classification system and have run into a few problems. I applaud James for all the work he has done on this.  I know I could never have accomplished this.

The first issue I have is that the sequential puzzle section seems to be very vague when it comes to twisty puzzles.  I'm trying to work out how to catalog these.  James has also mentioned having this same problem. Should it be by shape, by number of sides, by mechanism?  What would you do?  How do I make this a user-friendly section that can be navigated by the non-puzzler? 

Another section that has not really been fully classified is sequential discovery puzzles.  I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan of these types of puzzles, but I do know we have quite a few and will be receiving more this summer.  How does one catalog these?  What main classification should they fall under? Are they opening puzzles? Are they assembly puzzles? Or do we need another classification that has only sequential discovery puzzles in them? 

My next thoughts run to databases.  There are databases all over the world: Rob's puzzle page, Goetz page, The Lily Library...The list goes on.  Each one of these is unique and stands alone.  While we could link to each one, it seems a lot of extra pages for people to go through.  George has this idea of allowing people to link their collections to ours while still having it be a separate page.  By this I believe he wants it to be something along the lines of the collections page.  Unlike that one though, he wants people to be able to add their own puzzles to their own database.  He envisions people working together to help develop the webpage interface.  He's looking for a world standard I think.  We of course would host the database.  Any thoughts on this?  

My final question is more of a mini-competition.  We have a rather large 2 (1/2) car garage (23'x22') and a golf cart garage (10'x12') Both of which have a rather boring grey floor.  You see, we have no need for a garage here so we plan to use it to display yet more puzzles. Yes, it is temperature controlled and even has its own powder room (dedicated to wire disentanglement puzzles).  We want to have something puzzle related epoxied into the floor.  My thought was a maze in the large garage and a couple of pentomino puzzles in the golf cart garage.  There was an arrow maze done for the IPP in San Francisco, but George vetoed that one.  We'd like to open this up to the public to come up with a puzzling idea.  If we choose your design/idea for the floor, we'd like to invite you to stay a weekend in the Puzzle Palace Museum.  Send your ideas to katsmom01 (@) gmail (dot) com.  We plan to leave this offer open until the end of May.  At that time we will choose a design to place on the floor before the puzzles arrive. Based on our experience with the floor at Puzzle Palace, this process takes up to one month to finish.  Forgive the messy photographs.  Right now the workmen are storing all materials in there.

On to the weekly update.  George has finished installing all of the bookcases in the Library, Guest bedroom and closets. The lights have all been converted over to low UV emitting LED lights.  The putting green is finished and it is great fun!  The landscape lighting has been finished and security lighting is up and running.  We have holes all over the walls that need patching, but this is my fault for moving too many switches around the house.  We found some odd switching in the house and have begun working on fixing the problems.  One set of lights had the switch buried in the wall.  Even the previous owner didn't know where it was.  One light has 4! switches to run it.  And the worst infraction is 3 rooms on one switch.  The electricians and I have a love hate relationship.  They love the work and the food, but they hate the work and the changes when they think they have all but finished the job.  All but one of the ancient (circa 1985) intercom systems have been removed.  I have learned how to use the kitchen built in radio.  The old phone jacks have been removed bar one or two for humorous sake (my 19 year old didn't know what they were used for).  The old pool equipment has disappeared and a new pump is sitting waiting to be installed.  And me?  I still cook for all the workmen every day and run back and forth to the big house while the lighting system there is being updated.  

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Pavement Puzzles

Some of you may have seen our driveway at the big house (Puzzle Palace).  It has a 3D effect block pattern on it that I think is simply amazing, but others have commented that it makes them rather ill just looking at it.  To install it, we handed 3 different colored pavers to the HOA office and asked for approval.  They ASSUMED it would be a random pattern with the colors of the pavers and the installation began. Little did they know.  

One of the main features of Puzzle Palace is the shape of the majority of rooms.  We live in an octagonal house.  Most of the rooms on the ground floor have this shape.  When we bought the place, there was an octagon bricked into the front driveway right in front of the house.  The wrap around drive features an octagon using side walls and planter beds and we decided to continue keep this.   In the center of this octagon, we recreated the dissection of an octagon into a square mainly attributed to Geoffrey Thomas Bennett's.  Upon further investigation, Martin Gardiner writes in Knots and Borromean Rings, Rep-Tiles and Eight Queens (p. 48, 2014) that this design first appeared in a Persian manuscript in the 1300's.  Whoever made it we are glad it has been developed.  It looks stunning in the center of the driveway.

In the Museum, we decided to use a hexagon and installed Harry Lindgren's dissection of an octagon into a square.  This piece was placed at the top of the drive near the garage.  Unlike the one shown above, it can easily be seen from the street.  Needless to say, it has confused the residents of Boca Grove.  Yesterday the paver layer told me that after he finished putting the design in he went home with a terrible headache.  He ate dinner, watched some tv, and passed out at 8 pm.  He then woke up around midnight very excited. He finally worked out how it turns into a square, AND he understood why the bricks had to be placed as they were.  We had created concentric hexagons!  He told me he loved working on our two projects because he got to THINK.  Normally he just lays pavers as per a standard pattern.  Dull work to say the least.  I laughed and said if he wanted, I could give him a triangle to dissect into a square.  He laughed and went home.  I bet he will be thinking on that one all week now.

Just a question, can you make the octagon or the hexagon to a square using dovetails to connect the pieces so they form both shapes? George thinks it would be much more fun than just having 5 pieces. Or better yet, can they both be hinged so they can easily be reformed into the square?

The final ground design that we have incorporated is a number of Puzzle Palace logos (from George's prior business) throughout the Museum property.  This was based off a Stuart Coffin three piece bock puzzle (number 30, 1980) that George had.  I recently gave him a puzzle that looks similar made by Wim Zwaan in 1993.  He liked it so much he made a 3d copy of it and placed it on a pedestal outside the main door of the Puzzle Palace Museum.  If you are an avid puzzler and eager to get into puzzling when you arrive, the first puzzle is to remove it from its enclosure.  It is our hope that the puzzle is played with by nosey neighbors and passersby.  If it should disappear, it's no great loss, we will just print another and be glad that someone liked it enough to walk away with it.  However, in this community, we know that will never happen.   


On to the weekly update on the Puzzle Palace Museum.  The electricians have managed to fix all outdoor lights, the internal lights have all the cans placed, and we are awaiting the specially ordered bulbs. The outdoor areas minus the driveway have been sealed.  We've a bit of patio furniture poolside. George is in the process of putting the bookcases together for the library and the downstairs guest bedroom.  I have completed all repairs in the kitchen and it is fully functional.  Today the washer/dryer go in so guests don't need to worry about finding a laundromat. Stay tuned next week for a new update.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Thoughts on display and duplicates

 George and I have spent a great deal of time thinking about and discussing display options for our museum.  As noted in my last post, we have decided upon a mix of cubies and book cases.  Our go-to for this museum is IKEA.  Yes, you read that right.  IKEA.  The Kallax cubies are what we used on the front wall in the great room and kitchen, and in the downstairs guest room.  The library, half-way bedroom, and master bedroom will all be equipped with Billy Bookcases.  Now I know this sounds cheap, and it is.  BUT!  It is not.  We are fortunate to be living in a cinderblock home.  All units that are attached to the outside walls are mounted directly into the cinderblock walls.  Each bookcase is 93" tall and 30" wide.  This allows for mounting to every other stud of the building on internal walls.  

People have said this will not hold up to the weight of the puzzles, but unlike most, our shelves will not be crowded with puzzles.  Our motto in Puzzle Palace has been since day 1: Display and Play.  The same goes for the Puzzle Palace Museum.  The shelves are 11" deep, and I suppose it is possible to have the puzzles 2 or even 3 deep, this is not something we want to do.  If they are like that, you can't see the puzzles, and you will be unable to play with them.  The bookcased rooms are done that way in order to provide living space for any guests we may have.  

The Kallax cubes are a different story.  Each cubie will have six 14"x6"x4" clear PET lidded containers inside. Each will hold up to 8 standard sized Rubik's cubes. Each container will be labeled and each puzzle inside the contaier will have a unique identifier. This will allow visitors to quickly access the puzzles they are looking for.  

We plan to continue to use the Horden-Dalgety classification system with a few tweeks and additions.  Most notable of this is the absence of any classification for Twisty puzzles.  I have also spent many hours pouring over the Slocum, Hoffmann, von Delft & Botterman's, and Rob Stegman's puzzle classification systems. With each of these, there are many good points and there is always the possibility that I will be incorporating parts of them into our system.  If you have any constructive ideas, please feel free to pass them on to us. 

The library will house all of the puzzle books. Sadly, the only way I can see to hold all of them is to store them by height.  This will allow us to maximize the space in the room.  There will be a computer set up in the house with access to the public database for all guests.  

As for storage, we don't really see this as a problem.  All duplicates will be stored in the attic space of Puzzle Palace or the garage of the Puzzle Palace Museum.  All other puzzles will be on display as per our MO. 

And now on to duplicates.  Since we have announced this acquisition, we have had many requests to sell our duplicates.  Yes, we expect to have many but at this point we are not at all interested in letting any go. We have agreed with James that we will not put any up for sale for at least 3 years.  I expect it to be much more along the lines of 5 years.  It is my goal to have the collection completely catalogued before I even begin to think of disposing of any duplicates that we have.  As an example, when George and I combined our collections, we discovered around 3000 duplicates.  I have yet to sell any of those.  We have our treasure chest and duplicates are placed there for guests to take one when they leave.  We plan to continue this practice.  We also plan to trade puzzles for puzzles at some point in the future.  Perhaps when the dust settles and I have the puzzles put on shelves and catalogued we may run a special auction.

In the mean time, we are looking for yet more puzzles.  Unlike some museums that shall remain unnamed, we have every intention of increasing the size of our collection.  If you feel there is a puzzle we simply must add to the collection, please let us know. If you wish to donate puzzles to the collection, we will readily accept them without the need for you to provide any sort of funding.  Like America, our museum is a melting pot.  Send us your tired, your poor, your unwanted puzzles yearning to breathe free. 

Before I close, a small update on the progress of the museum.  This past week has seen the completion of the outdoor area.  All pavers are in place and work continues on leveling the driveway and completing the walkway to the pool area. We have had four more walls of shelving units completely mounted and another started.  Final plans have been ok'd for the workman's bathroom disentanglement walls.  The electricians have entered the building and have finished installing lights in both downstairs bedrooms and the great room.  The olive oak trees have been removed from the front of the property and a pool polluting oak has been removed from the back of the house.  The wood from the later is now curing in the garage to be used in the fireplaces.  Work continues at a steady pace.  I'm sure we will be completely finished by the time the puzzles arrive. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Building a Museum

 So by now, I'm sure that most of you who attended the VMPP last weekend will know that George and I will be the new guardians of the Hordern-Dalgety puzzle collection.  Accomplishing this is no small feat.  On James' side, he began looking for a new home for his museum many years ago.  In 2016 he put a call for takers into CFF, and his website has had the same call on it for as long as I can remember.  George and I were dreaming one day as I looked up something on James' site and went and bought a house to hold it.  No, that's a bit of an exaggeration, we began emailing James to say if he had no takers to add us to the bottom of his list as we knew his desire to keep the collection in Europe.  

We spent quite a few long what'sapp calls with James and many many more long emails of back and forth on the logistics of all of this.  Poor James has had the hardest job of all so far.  He has to find the movers and get the puzzles packed and ready to ship to us.  We greatly appreciate his trust in us.  We know how very hard it must be for him to have his collection leave his home after so many years of collecting. 

On our end, in the off chance we were able to obtain the collection, I started looking at commercial properties but they were simply too far away.  We then started looking at the non-gated communities around us but all the homes in our price range were too small.  As much as we hated to do it for many reasons, we finally looked within our own club. We found the perfect house to turn into a museum and promptly bought it.  This is before we became guardians of the collection.  If it didn't pan out, we have a weekend home, or more selfishly, a place to keep the kid closer to her mom for a few more years-yet far enough a way to still be able to have a private life. This house is a short 8 minute walk from Puzzle Palace and has been appropriately named the Puzzle Palace Museum.  It is 3,427 square feet, has 4 bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths.  Like Puzzle Palace, this house is being kitted out to hold the incoming collection.  We will have around 40,000 puzzles coming in as well as around 3000 puzzle related books.  

We've kitted out every room with 15x15x15 shelf cubies.  Each main box is 2 of the cubies high by 4 long. They are stacked on most walls 3 boxes high.  Depending on how many puzzles we have in this collection, each of the small cubies will hold six pva clear lidded drawers.   Each drawer can hold up to 8 Rubik's cube sized puzzle.  The beauty of this is that you can see each puzzle, and still be able to play with them while we are maximizing the space. In the great room, there are a total of 98 of these units.  This is an area that will hold just over 37,000 puzzles.  We have an extra 14x14 bedroom on the main floor that will have a total of 304 linear feet of shelf space.  This area will hold an additional 1200 puzzles.  On top of this there will be a number of map cases in these rooms that will hold another 3000 puzzles.  We have also installed wire puzzle hooks in the outdoor powder room that will hold approximately 500 puzzles.  The cabana bath also has another set of shelves that will hold around 200 puzzles.  The laundry room-cum-bar will have additional puzzle hooks to hold another 200~300 puzzles. For those that are better at math than me, this lower level of the house should be able to hold at least 42,000 puzzles.  

I have been posting photos and videos of the great wall on FaceBook and have gotten a lot of comments about it not being sturdy or collapsing under the weight of the puzzles on it.  This wall is 10 wide x 26 feet high at the apex.  What you don't realize is that it is a solid concrete wall.  The cubbies are mounted directly to the wall with concrete anchors in four places per unit.  Each unit is connected to those surrounding it.  The center of each cabinet is further supported by more planks and those are also mounted to the wall and to the cabinets around them.  This thing is going no where.  I feel for anyone who purchases this house after we are gone.  Those things are there to stay.  This particular wall was not designed for the main purpose of storage.  It is here for visual impact.  When you enter the Puzzle Palace Museum, you will be amazed by this. It will be a wonder to behold. For those of you who have visited James' house, you may not remember all of these puzzles.  Why?  He had them in a beautiful cabinet behind closed doors or on the top of his custom made cabinet.  These are not puzzles to be played with, but rather puzzles to be looked at.  

James has graciously given us his collection of puzzle books and we have decided to use one 14x14 bedroom as a library.  I don't believe there will be room for a bed in here, but I do plan to put in a table with comfortable chairs so one can read or research in comfort.

I guess any other puzzles will be placed in the midlevel and master bedrooms.  We will have a large number of puzzle 'posters' and 'artwork' on display as well.  These will be placed in the uncabineted areas of the 26' walls.  You will have to look up to see them, but there are also two wonderful viewing areas over either side of the great room that will very easily allow observation of any hung art works.

To make this museum work, we have had to do quite a lot of work on the house.  Don't get me wrong, the house is in amazingly good shape.  We got such a bargain on it.  It is very museum-like in design; the high ceilings, the angles, the amount of natural light that comes through the windows.  It's a wonderful place to house the collection.  

One of James' concerns (among many I will address here) was exposure to UV light. He's worried and rightfully so about fading of the puzzles.  The way the house is situated, there is a lot of natural light, but very little light that falls anywhere but on the floor.  The few rooms that have more exposure are covered by our jungle.  The windows also have blinds on them that can be drawn if need be, but after having spent the last 2 weeks here, we realize that it won't be necessary. The lights I chose to install are all low UV emitting LED lights.  None of the puzzles will be directly lit up as all lights are to be angled away from the walls and more towards the inside of the room. In order to ensure good visibility, I am having 99 lights either replaced, or installed.  The lights themselves are on a Lutron system that is voice activated through Siri on either the HomePods that are scattered throughout the house or the iPad that has been installed in the kitchen.

Everyone is concerned about dust, but we have taken care of this as well.  As in Puzzle Palace, we have just installed new HVAC systems.  This house has 4 units (overkill for the size of the house) all equipped with a Remy Halo air purifier. We have these in the big house and love them.  Since installing them, the dust level has dropped significantly.  The systems also have the added benefit of keeping the house humidity controlled.  We have the temperature set between 70 and 77 degrees.  Currently the humidity is at 60% but the system has only been working for 2 days.  This will be monitored and adjusted as necessary.  The house also has that fantastic in wall vacuum system.  Amazing thing that is.  I wish I'd have had those in other places I've lived in.  

We have entrances all around the house.  There are 4 sliding glass doors to the pool area, the front entrance of course, and a garage entrance. This house doesn't have a screened in pool, but we do have screens on all of the windows so no bugs here.  We are not worried about break-ins because of the excellent security in our community.  We will be installing motion detectors outside the house and some security cameras inside but this is more for us to maintain an eye on the collection from our own home. This is of course a smart home and I can control it from anywhere thanks to modern technology and telephones but a little bit of added security won't hurt.  

We have contacted Tesla and will be having solar installed here as well.  Additionally there will be 4 power walls to store energy in the event of a power outage.  We are not in a flood zone, the house is equipped with full hurricane shutters, although direct hits from hurricanes in this area are rare.  We aren't in a hurricane evacuation area.  The last major hurricane to hit this area was Irma and it didn't do much damage at all.  While we do get hurricanes, we are far enough away from the water that we are not in the high wind areas.  

The kitchen has been filled with all one needs to live in a house.  There are silverware, dishes, pots and pans, ovenware, a coffee maker or two.  There is food in the cupboards and wine in the bar.  Guests that stay here will have a choice of 3 bedrooms or the great room.  We are not installing traditional beds, but rather will have a Castro Convertible in each of the rooms.  There are additional air mattresses for when we have larger parties.  And if there is so much demand for space after both the museum and the Puzzle Palace are filled, there is a hotel a short 10 minute walk down the road.  

And although we don't watch it, we do have a television installed in the master bedroom.  With the way the room is set up, we can also use it to host presentations.  Folding chairs are easy to store.  The cable is hooked up and the internet is up and running.

Should the puzzle collection grow beyond its current size (and we all know it will), we also have a 2 car air conditioned garage that we can convert into a puzzle room.  This area even has its own powder room. Currently it is only being used to store a 4 person golf cart that we purchased so guests who don't want to walk can travel between the two houses. 

A landscaper has been contracted, new sidewalks are going in, the pool and spa are being redone, outdoor furniture is being brought in, the putting green is on order.  This house will soon be ready for visitors once the puzzles have arrived.  

We really have no words to express how thrilled, grateful, humbled we are that James has chosen to entrust us with his wonderful collection.  He and Lindsey have a vacation home for life.  We really feel honored that he has done this and hope we display the collection in a way that does it justice.

I'll post photos and make more updates as the museum is updated. 

As always, Puzzle Palace is open to fellow puzzlers by invitation only. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The King of 3D printing is at it again!

 George has always been a pioneer in the area of 3D printing.  His first printer was bought in 2003 after he saw an exhibition in Chicago.  Oskar called him over excitedly and told him he had to see this machine. When George got home, he bought the Stratasys Dimension printer and the rest is history.  He bought the machine and hasn't looked back.  He has often told me that that first printer cost more than I've put into my VW Beetle.  More than most people spent on a car at the time.  

Over the years he has purchased quite a few different 3D printers.  He brought a FormLabs 2 SLA printer with him from California, I purchased him a Creality CR6 SE and a Creality 3D PrintMill (CR30) printer through Kickstarter.   We also have 2 JGMaker Artist D's on order.  His last purchase was the Ultimaker S5.

Heck, he even brought a DaVinci Nano 3D printer on a trip to Antarctica! This was later gifted to Oskar in the hopes that he would begin using a 3D printer himself.  In case you didn't know, Oskar has embraced 3D printing on his own.  He's now teaching George things.  The student now teaches the teacher.

But none of these can hold a candle to what arrived on Monday.  Once again George has proven himself to be a pioneer in 3D printing.  His Fuse 1 SLS printer finally came in! GoodBye ShapeWays. It has been a very long wait.  We ordered this in June of 2017.  That is a long time.  (Although, I have been waiting longer to get my Tesla Roadster.)  George ordered this one all jazzed up and jellied out.  He added the sifter, the benches they stand on, the vacuum.  He's getting a tumbler to put in his dirty workshop.  You name it, he'll have it. 

The best part of this?  Well, we get to make puzzles of course, but the company has a 1 on 1 two hour training session that we will be taking together. This way I can learn to use the printer as well.  This saves George the time it will take to train me.  He's already read the manual, and I'm now working on it.  We expect a month or so before we take those lessons because we are busy with something else right now.  

I'm expecting that as soon as he really learns how to use the machine we will be in the 'business' of making 100 puzzles.  He's already calculated that our next IPP exchange will take something like 3 days to complete.  This is exciting! Can you imagine the possibilities?