Notes from Puzzle Palace

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Dexterity puzzles and one big nut!

One of the collections we recieved was one of Dexterity puzzles.  There must be 1000's in what we have acquired.  This collection takes up most of the cabinets that have been installed in the chest room. When I first encountered these puzzles, I was not very interested in them.  I thought they were just toys to keep young children occupied.  I know I've written about these before, but the more I unbox, the more interesting they become.  

The collection has a wide variety of different styles. The first of course is the kind that you need to put a ball into a hole.  These are mostly a shake and pray that it gets in the correct place.  I have rotten luck with this kind.

The second type are small square boxes that have different internal parts.  These come in a wide variety of styles and sizes.  These puzzles I am not afraid to hand to non-puzzlers.  They are virtually impossible to break, but if they do break, we have so many duplicates of them that it doesn't really matter too much.  (I know James is rolling his eyes at me and I can see the smoke coming out of his ears, but when I was in Asia, I literally acquired 100's of these small square cubes.)

The third type is a maze puzzle that has a ball to be maneuvered through the maze.

The next kind has water inside.  These are trickier than they look.  The problem with them is that some of the older pieces have lost their water through evaporation via the rubber stoppers.  

Next up is my favorite type: Mercury mazes. I remember these from my childhood and am as equally enamored with them today as I was then.  I could spend many hours just watching the mercury move around the puzzle.  Sadly, Mercury has been declared a harmful substance so the puzzles must be off limits for any visitors to the HDM Puzzle Palace Museum. 

This collection is so extensive that there is no way a person could solve all of them in a years time.  I believe it would take many more years than I have left to solve each of these puzzles.  We've played quite a bit with them and find them to be a nice amusement.  

There is another puzzle that we 'acquired'.  Or perhaps I should say it came back full circle.  George got the monkey nut puzzle when he was in the Seychelles. He gave it to James when we visited after IPP London in 2014.  Today I unpacked it and it is now in the museum.  Of course when I opened it, it immediatly broke into pieces.  I spent the next half hour putting it back together again.  I know it's against my non-playing rule, but I just couldn't help myself.  

What makes this puzzle special is that it is a natural puzzle.  No two are alike.  It seems to be quite hard to come by, no only because of the remote location of them, but also because they usually fall to the ground and break into pieces which makes it impossible to complete.  After doing a bit of research, I've discovered that they are also found in Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand.  I hope that in one of our next trips we would be able find a few more of these.  I would love to see one in nature and watch it cure.  

Now on to the weekly museum update. The garage is completely unboxed.  All of the shelving units have been filled and the shelves around the outside of the garage are filling up nicely.  We have left the central part of it empty so that we can still park one car inside if we choose to.  Odds are highly agains this as in reality, this is now just an extension of the house.  It is all under air and I don't want to have exhaust fumes from any vehicle damaging the puzzles.  (I still drive a gas guzzling VW beetle while waiting on my Tesla Roadster to come in.) 

I have been like a whirling dervish in my attempt to unbox these puzzles.  I have completely unboxed all but two rooms worth of puzzles.  We still have the disentanglement puzzles to open as well as the jugs.  Other than those, all the puzzles have been opened and put on display.  This has been a true labor of love.  I wake at 7 and if we are staying in the museum I start working right away.  If we are at Puzzle Palace, I am over there by 9 and work through until 5 pm.  This has become a 'real job' for me.  One that I love much more than any other I have had before.  

Next week, I'll take you on a tour of the chest room.  That should excite a few of my readers. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

French Puzzle Sets

Before I start today's post I want to express my apologies for not giving an update last week. My grandchildren were down for the week and I felt it more important to spend time with them than to post about puzzles.   I know you'll think that crazy but...

One of the collection of collections we recieved was a large number of French Puzzle Sets. I had managed to purchase a set myself off eBay this past spring and found it funny that we had so many arrive in the collection.  James has warned me to not separate out the pieces and I can see why.  These are (mostly) complete sets and I should hate to see them with missing pieces. He informed me that Edward attended schooling in France and began collecting them there. Since the first photo was taken, I've found 3 more boxes and ordered one from eBay.  Who knew searching for old puzzles would be so much fun. 

Each individual box contains a number of patience puzzles.  My research has shown that the earlier  game boxes held board games, roulette, dominoes, and cards among other ways to spend the evening.  These boxes date back to the early 1870's.  By the early 1900's, the older game boxes were phased out and the more "modern" dexterity and disentanglement puzzles were placed in the boxes. 

The boxes that house the puzzles vary slightly, with most being made of wood.  There are a few boxes that have a suitcase type appearance being made of either cardboard or wood covered in paper. Sadly, some of the boxes are only that.  They do not contain any puzzles.  

And now on to the museum update.  We have had a two week downtime while the kids were in town.  First we had the youngest daughter and her 'not-a-boyfriend' for a week, then the older daughter and her family came down the next weeks so we have been enjoying family time.  

Prior to their arrival, I had managed to unpack most of the shipping boxes that said "puzzle boxes" on the exterior and posted about it in the last blog post.  While the kids enjoyed a few days at Disney and the beach, I unboxed the rest.  As it turns out, the chest room is now completely full and we await additional glass shelves so I can arrange the pieces in a less packed fashion.  Currently we have boxes on boxes and I don't like the look of that. 

After completely unpacking the chest room I moved on to the great room.  This room is dedicated to wooden puzzles with one wall holding named designers/manufacturers.  On Monday evening around 11:30 pm I opened the last shipping box.  The South wall looks bare to me, but I'm hopeful the missing items that are in James' database have been misplaced amongst other puzzles.  

The South-West wall is filled with Japanese Kumiki puzzles while the North-West, North, and East walls are currently filled with puzzles by unknown designers/manufacturers.  These will later be entered in the database that George is building in the hopes that we can get help identifying the puzzles. These walls all look terribly messy to me as the puzzles were just placed randomly for now.  Unboxing first is more important than organization of those pieces.  

We have also decided to remove all of the puzzles from the wood room at Puzzle Palace and bring them here.  After all, the intent all along has been to combine the collections.  This will be one of the final stages of the museum build.  I've all too many boxes to open yet to begin shifting puzzles form one house to the next.  

One thing I struggle with is the placement of pieces made by companies such as Dilemma, Rhombol, and Bits & Pieces.  Should they be added to the South wall?   Do the count as a 'proper' manufacturer?  I find myself thinking they are more along the lines of a toy manufacturer than a puzzle manufacturer.  I guess my bias comes from seeing these companies works in every street market I ever went to in South-East Asia.  What are your thoughts on this dear reader?  

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Puzzle Boxes

After living in Hong Kong with sweating walls during the summer, I have never been much of a fan of puzzle boxes.  The problem with them is they would swell and get stuck. This rendered them useless except for a few weeks in winter. Because of this, I just didn't purchase any.  Well, all of that has changed now.  We are full up on puzzle boxes.  With the humidity control in both Puzzle Palace and the museum, swelling is not something we need to worry about any longer. 

I have dedicated one room to puzzle boxes. Initially I put the Karakuri boxes under the stairs and thought that would be enough space to hold them.  Boy was I wrong.  What was I thinking?  The Kamei boxes themselves take up two columns alone.  The stairs only have a tiny bit of space under them.  

This room also has a number of metal cabinets and some wooden ones in it.  These are used for two purposes.  First, they make a great table to work on.  Second, they hold the dexterity puzzles that we have acquired.  And boy are there a lot of those!  The cabinets that are used as a table are the perfect height. They are waist high for me so there is plenty of space to spread out on and puzzle.  Currently the tops are just metal and formica, but this may change in the future.  I may put some stools in there for a bit of relief, but haven't fully decided on that yet.  

Now for the real reason for posting this today: I want some help identifying the Karakuri boxes. I know each designer has their own color and would like to keep the designers separated.  I would also like to label each designer on the cabinets, but I don't know who is who.  All information would be helpful and appreciated!  The only designer I know is Kamei.  His boxes have a blue lid.  As you can see, we have quite a few rows of those.  

The photos are not perfect, I'm still unboxing and it is hard to photograph through more shipping boxes.  Updates will be made as we progress. I wish I had time to play, but my eidetic memory is George's excuse to play while I unpack.  Now if only I knew the names of all the puzzles...Failing that, the color of the boxes and designer name would be amazing!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Puzzle arrival day

Well, the day is finally here.  The last of our container shipment is to arrive in two batches.  Friday saw a total of 432 boxes.  They came in two shipments.  Both had more furniture in them.  This is good. We needed that to fill the garage.  What did I do?  I set to work unpacking.  All of the furniture had to be done first to make room for the next boxes.  

This time around we were smart. I stood at the truck and unloaded onto dollies.  My method was simple. We had three dollies, each took three boxes. I just made sure they had similar type puzzles in them and the unloading began. The nice young man didn't speak much English, but he was able to stack them where I wanted and he was strong.  So...Plastic to one side, wood to another, china in a third place, and all the metal was carried upstairs for us.  My life now will be nothing but unpacking for the next month or so.  I have a goal and I will achieve it.  I'm also not complaining in the least. This has been a great pleasure for me. I love opening boxes and discovering puzzles I didn't know existed before. 

The first is a puzzle that George spent a good hour on the stairs investigating. I will not post anything more than this teaser photo of him nerding out on it.  I have a feeling he will be writing a paper about it soon.  

As you probably know, before I discovered Berrocal's, I was a very twisted girl.  My initial puzzle collecting started with those.  When I began unboxing, I was grateful for James' labeling of the boxes.  We had the majority of the twisty puzzles in the kitchen and those were the first I opened.  As these hold an entire room in our house, we brought them all over to Puzzle Palace to be placed in the mirror room.  This lead to the culling of puzzles that were in there.  

Over the years, many twisty puzzlers, myself included, branched off into moving bead or sliding tile puzzles.  When this new batch of puzzles came in, we began to question our cataloging system.  Now the mirror room only holds puzzles that twist.  Yes, there The Missing Link is still in there as is the Orb-it.  Both twist in some fashion. But now the Brain, or Bolygok have been removed as there is no twisting involved.  I should have done this from the beginning, but now that the collection has expanded it's time.  

I've not completely filled the Mirror room yet, but thought I'd give you a few photos of what was unboxed this week.  As I'm sure you can imagine, the duplicates are quite a few.  These are just some of the puzzles found.  As it turned out, we had 4 more large moving boxes filled that are now at our main house waiting to be placed on shelves.