Notes from Puzzle Palace

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Our mission

I have decided to give some information on Puzzle Palace and the Puzzle Palace Museum today rather than discuss a puzzle. There is a LOT of misinformation going around and I'd like to clear it up.  

Both George and I are retired (24 years and 3 years) and have had the same hobby since we were children.  Over the years we have both made friends in the puzzle industry as well as with many individual puzzlers as well.  George has said to me many times over that he has always wanted to own every puzzle in the world.  This is why he became a puzzle prototyper. When he saw Edward's collection he realized he couldn't afford all of the antique puzzles, but  if he was prototyping puzzles for people he could increase his collection through building.  His favorite fan turned out to be Oskar.  Today the tables have turned and Oskar prototypes George's puzzles, but that is another story for a different day. 

I have always wanted to own every Rubik's cube ever made, and I'm pretty close to that with the mass-produced versions.  We do not have many duplicates, and with the exception of some rare puzzles from the early early '80's, there were not many additions to our mirror room from the HD (Hordern-Dalgety) collection. Since I joined IPP, my focus has shifted more to shiny metal pieces. Since purchasing the HD collection, that focus has shifted further still and I now make a full time job of finding pieces that will fit within the collection or enhance it in some way. George has always loved burr puzzles and continues to have them as his favorite (although, I do see him fiddling with other types often.)

We live in a rather large house that holds much of our collection, and yes, we purchase another home to hold the HDM(iller) collection. It is around three blocks from our own home. As we live in a gated community, it is not open to the public, but is rather open by invitation only. Meaning, if you are a puzzler, send a message when you are in town and you will be invited.  

Additionally, every other year in on the weekend before G4G we will host Boca Bash. A by invitation only puzzle party to last 2-3 days.  All participants will be housed either in Puzzle Palace, or in Puzzle Palace Museum.  If you are one of the lucky invitees, it will be a weekend to remember.  This year because of COVID related problems and the cancellation of G4G, we sadly are having a much scaled down version of Boca Bash.  ALL ATTENDEES HAVE BEEN FULLY VACCINATED. My house, My rules.  We were going to cancel completely, but quite a few of the invitees had non refundable tickets so we decided to go ahead with the party.  

The Puzzle Palace houses around 10,000 puzzles.  The majority of these being the IPP puzzles.  We also have approximately 3,000 twisty puzzles, every Hanayama ever produced, arguably the largest collection of Berrocal's in private hands with over 100 pieces, Our puzzle chess sets now sit at a dozen.  I have assembled and displayed every 3d crystal puzzle produced to date.  My lover's burr sets are on display in my office as he just loves these puzzles and I want him to be able to build anytime he wants.  George's (and others) prototypes as well as our extensive collection of heavy metal are also housed in the Palace. Everything else is on DISPLAY in the Puzzle Palace Museum.  Effectively, the Puzzle Palace Museum is spread across two houses.  One we live in full time, and the other is our 'Northern home' where we spend the odd night when I am in the mood to do a lot of work early in the morning.


Contrary to popular belief, we did not inherit anything. Please do not believe all that you read or hear. We acquired it. And that is THE END of that conversation. James is still very much alive and well. We had a collection of around 12500 pieces (hard to say because I keep adding to the collection on a regular basis). The Hordern-Dalgety collection has an unknown number of pieces as of today (still cataloging) but it is believed to be between 40,000 and 45,000 pieces.  Unlike some other puzzle museums, we are actively adding to the collection. I am a bit of an insomniac and refuse to take drugs to counter that.  Every day I wake around 4 am and for the next two hours I hunt auction sites and websites for newly released puzzles or old ones we've been wanting to add to the collection.  

We have hired two people to photograph all of the puzzles that we have and George is working on making an online database which can be accessed by anyone world wide. We expect this process to take around 3 to 5 years to complete. Unlike other puzzle collections, this one is Display and Play. This means if you are fortunate enough to come here, you can see ALL of the puzzles we have on hand. The majority of the puzzles can be played with by most puzzlers. Some exceptions of older and more rare puzzles do exist though. No children are allowed in the Puzzle Palace Museum. There is too great a temptation to grab everything. There is also a lot of glass in the museum with the Great Wall of china (thanks goes to James for the new name) and the Toyo glass/Impossible bottles wall.  This philosophy is much different than other large collections that are housed in museums.  In many of those, you need to make an appointment in advance and even then are only allowed to examine one or two puzzles at a time.  When visitors come, they are handed post-its to place on the shelves where the puzzles are removed from.  Only one puzzle at a time is allowed for examination, but the number of puzzles to examine are mostly limitless. 

Yes, we take donations. In fact, since we have started we have recieved around 50 donations from various members of the community. Even the couple who live next door have donated a puzzle to the museum. Every donation is labeled as such and will be entered into the database as a donation.  We want everyone to get credit for their contributions. 

We are not a public museum as that would mean actually letting the public into our home(s). We are very much a private museum.  I am putting through paperwork to make Puzzle Palace Museum an officially registered museum in the US. The only difference is the tax-exempt status and in the state of Florida it is not something we wish to do.  I'll pay the 7% state tax.  By living a private museum, we have the right to refuse anyone entry.  I have done this in a few instances; mostly with small children, but also with some adults who do not know how to handle puzzles, or who have just insulted me so much that I do not want to be around them.   

We believe ourselves to be more curators of the puzzles than owners.  We are holding them together for others to enjoy as much as we do.  Our mission as I've said before is to allow all serious puzzlers/designers/manufacturers to come into the museum to use the pieces we have here for research.  Our ultimate goal is to provide a scholarship opportunity for people lasting from a few days to a few months. We hope that by purchasing the extra home to house the majority of the collection that we will have more puzzlers come to see this vast collection.  It is not one we want hidden away from the world, but rather one that we want to be vibrant and well loved by many.  We realize that South Florida is rather far from where the majority of puzzlers live but we have sunny skies year round and truly live in paradise.  When the time comes to pass this on to someone else, we want it to be as complete as it is today-well, actually, we want it to be more complete as we are adding to it on a weekly basis.

Another fallacy that has been making the rounds is that we have a never ending bank account.  This is simply not true.  I am frugal in the extreme and when I purchase puzzles, it is ones that we have been hunting for a very long time, or ones that add something to our collection that was missing.  I do not try to get every puzzle made.  That is an impossible task and I would be broke within a month were I to do that.  We do not receive funding from anyone so all donations are greatly appreciated. We do have around 6~8 companies with whom we have an agreement to purchase all upcoming puzzles. These are puzzles that we both enjoy, and that are highly praised by the puzzling community at large.  

Finally, I am not going to get into a bidding war with anyone. I set a price for a piece and stick with it.  The rare exception being our pirates chest and a Berrocal.  I will not entertain anyone who bids up an item then removes their bids.  I also do not like it when people say I have a lot of puzzles so I don't need another.  In the past two months, I have had a number of people winge about it not being fair that I have so many puzzles, or tell me they knew I was the high bidder so they went directly to the seller to offer a bid above my high bid as a buyout price as I "don't need any more puzzles" or I "have enough puzzles already".  Not only is this just bad manners (why would you be dumb enough to tell me?) but it is also against most auction rules.  I have turned in the guilty parties, not because I am upset about losing the items, but because once someone gets away with it once, they will continue to do so.  This is ultimately bad for the community. I understand how auctions work, and if I lose one, I don't care.  There are always more.  I simply do not like the way these few bad eggs did their dealings. 

We made an agreement with James that we would NOT be selling or trading any puzzles for the first 3 years of ownership.  This means everyone.  We will not make exceptions just because YOU have always wanted X puzzle.   No one gets an exception.  When I have completed the cataloging of puzzles, I will then make a list of what I am willing to sell or trade.  When the time comes, I will announce it on my blog.  Until then, please respect our agreement and do not ask for puzzles. 

Wow! That is a lot of information to absorb.  Sorry for the long rant, but I've really had enough of these rumors, requests, and bad-form auction deals. 

And now on to the Museum update.  This past week has seen the addition of many more shelves.  George has finished the manager's room and the Toyo Glass hallway.  

He is now moving onto the EV room.  The East wall should be completed before the weekend is over.  The puzzle plates will be mounted before the weekend is out.  Our photographing duo continue to do great work.  We have finally worked out how to transfer all of the photos to a dedicated laptop (two laptops and a hard drive actually) and they are now able to rename each of the photos to ease in the ultimate compilation of the online database.  George has been investigating cloud storage and believes he may have a solution for our problem.  

I have been taking photos of the puzzle plates and the known designers.  I have worked out a cataloging system and a method for photographing the puzzles that is very regimented, but ultimately makes it much easier later on. Each Kallex, shelf, or cubie is first given a number and photographed with the puzzles inside.  A post-it is made with the number on it and photographed, after that each puzzle is photographed from many different angles, and finally a photo is taken of either

Mooch the Monkey or our SPH to separate the photos of each puzzle.  This makes it much easier later on when there are thousands of puzzles to go through.  If anyone wants to make a coffee table book of my SPH and George's beanie baby I've got 1000's of photos of them that I'm more than willing to give away.  

Finally, I have completed a number of puzzle tables for the museum.  I started with the sheep of knowledge.  I liked it so much I just had to purchase a few more and now we have a menagerie in the house. I'm putting photos of all of them here because they are just so much fun.  First to build and second to look at.  There are others, but I have more tables arriving tomorrow so I'll set those up before I add to my zoo.  Question: can these be called zoo burrs?

The sheep of knowledge

My unicorn

Next week we are gone for my older daughter's wedding and will be visiting a puzzler or two along the way.  I'll be back to writing about puzzles upon our return.  I'm sorry about the long boring post, but I simply had to get this off my chest.  I've really had enough of the strange things coming out of peoples mouths.


  1. Jealousy is a terrible thing, people lie and cheat and traduce so they can get what they want. Well done Rox for creating such wonderful places. I hope to visit one day.

    1. Thank you for teaching me a new word today. A rare occurrence anymore.
      Lovely collection Roxanne, as always :)

  2. how come that you're so rich? I mean, you may have paid several million USD to get Dalgety collection, plus hiring people to make pics for the coming years.

    Don't you think you should have used your money for a more valuable thing like helpig poor people and so on. I help people in the need and I feel that you waste so much money for nothing, even if this is a (nice) hobby and that you do what you want with your money of course!


    1. Work hard and save your money. That's how you make it. We earned it, we will spend it as we wish.

      You are making assumptions about our personal life which may not be true. You have no idea how much we may have donated to charity. You have no idea who we have hired to work for us or how that will help them. You have no idea how much we spent on this collection.

      Your unfounded conclusions and disparaging remarks are both upsetting and poorly recieved. I'm not at all sure why you felt the need to write them.

      I will never be able to convince you that we are good people so I'm not even going to try.

    2. It is wonderful that you are putting this amazing collection into this space so that puzzle enthusiasts can come and enjoy it (carefully!). It is clear the extraordinary efforts you are taking to look after these puzzles so that they are there for posterity. I really enjoyed your video of the Scannavini cabinet and hope, time permitting, you will make others. It is truly a remarkable collection and James has found a fitting home for it. Thank you for showing and sharing it with us.