Notes from Puzzle Palace

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Flippe Ball and Exciting news!

 This week we had quite a few puzzles come in but since George is writing articles for CFF I'm not allowed to write about them here.  I chose to block him and today I give you the Flippe Ball puzzle by George Bell.  

I love it!  It's a fun little puzzle.  When it came in the mail, I knew it had to open through a spin.  I'm not giving away any secrets here as George Bell has recently written an article in CFF 114 about this puzzle.  I have to say, I was disappointed when I first tried to open it because nothing happened.  I sadly walked into the bedroom and gave it to my lover. He had the advantage of having read the article before the puzzle came in, he walked back into the kitchen, grabbed a plate and opened the puzzle!   I played around with it a bit.  Looked at it and realized what the trick was.  
I managed to finally open it after about 20 tries.  It's a fun little puzzle and I can see non-puzzlers enjoying it.  We are having a few visitors to Puzzle Palace next week, I think I'll take it out and see how it goes over.  This little gem along with other designs made by Mr. Bell can be purchased here

Flippe Ball

Speaking of CFF, this month according to Rik is unique.  They have more than enough material for the magazine.  Another first is that this is probably the first time they have had a husband and wife each write an article.  I gave a look at the Hanayama collection we have, and George introduces his die-cutting machine.  I have a feeling this will not be the last time we both have an article in the magazine.  I'm pretty sure we have both sent off a few more for publication.

On to the weekly update on the Puzzle Palace Museum.  We got some bad news this week.  The guys who are doing the epoxy floor came down with COVID-19 and will be out for another week.  This means the floor base coat will not be done when the decals arrive.  One has been completed and is sitting in George's office, the other is at the printer here in Boca.  The men putting all of the shelving up are working down in Miami finishing up a job and have put us on hold so not much going on there.  My daughter and a few friends from college spent a weekend here and it made me aware of what still needs to be purchased to make the museum habitable so I have spent a great deal of time shopping for the small essentials.  

I also realized we don't have any furniture in the Museum so I spent a few days hunting down coffee tables and large tables for the house.  It's not an easy task to find items we both like that keeps with the theme.  Then I stumbled across the Lost Day Burr Table.  This would be perfect! I wrote Sue right away hoping beyond hope that there would be an extra one sitting in the dark corners of Brian's workshop but there wasn't.  If anyone has one they want to sell, please let me know.  I'm looking to purchase.  We are also looking for a design for a larger dining room table.  It has to be a puzzle of course, and it has to be big. I need a rectangular one that will hold at least 6 people. It will probably not ever be used for that purpose, but rather it will be used to play with the puzzles that are in the museum.  

Our Castro Convertibles arrived 2 weeks ago and the chaps who were paid to install them dumped them in the great room and told us they would be back in a few days with more workers because they were too heavy for them to get up the stairs.  After a lot of unanswered calls by the delivery company, I called the manufacturer to complain.  15 minutes later our $400 was returned to us and we had to look for movers locally.  Well, not us. George decided we would take all the mattresses and cushions off and move it ourselves.  It almost killed us, but by golly, three hours we got them installed.  We slept well that night!

Master Bedroom

Halfway house looking over the golf course

Over at Puzzle Palace, the tree removal men came on Monday to grind down the roots that they didn't do the first time around.  The man said it was too much work for him and he'd be back with more guys after he had his lunch.  He never came back.  I called the landscaper and exploded.  We got the roots ground out on Tuesday and I had to miss golf again, but no landscapers or irrigation pipe fixers came this past week.  I have a very muddy front yard waiting to be beautified.

With everything going wrong this week, I was just ready to give up.  And then we got the best email ever.  Out puzzles were being loaded on the ship!  They leave the UK on Tuesday the 27th and should arrive in Port Miami on the 16th of May!  Now we know we won't get them for another 2 weeks after that, but at least they will be on the right side of the globe for us.  This dream is getting closer to completion.  Now to go make some phone calls to get those workmen back in the museum.

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.