Archive for month February, 2018

Maurits Cornelis Escher is the creator of Concave and Convex, and he is one of the most interesting artists in the 20th century. One may like his paintings or not, but we must all agree that he is unique. In fact, most people are able to identify his work as soon as they see it, even if they don’t know the name of the painter. Perhaps they just know he was the Dutch graphic artist that painted impossible stairs, upside down rooms, strange reflections… However, when they see one work, they know it belongs to him.

For that reason, we can say that he is a quite popular artist. The M.C. Escher Foundation organizes exhibitions with his works regularly, and they always attract thousands of visitors. In fact, there was an exhibition in Madrid in 2017 for 8 months that showed around 200 works by Escher. It was one of the most visited in 2017.

Image of the Assembled Puzzle 1000, Selegiochi, Concave and Convex

Concave and Convex and other dichotomies

Escher got his inspiration partly on Mathematics and Geometry. Symmetry is a constant in the images he invents. For that reason, many of his paintings have a dichotomy in the title, like Concave and Convex in this case. However, we also have Ascending and Descending, High and Low, or Day and Night. His most important works have already a jigsaw puzzle version, which is another symptom of his popularity. Although different brands have manufactured puzzles by M.C. Escher, the Italian company Selegiochi is probably the most important publisher of his puzzles.

This is the first puzzle by M.C. Escher and the first puzzle by Selegiochi that I have put together. The fact that all the pieces have only different shades of black, white, and gray, adds to the challenge of the puzzle. However, since it is only 1000 pieces, the puzzle is quite manageable. The pieces are just slightly thinner than most other brands, but they have good quality, a nice feel to the touch, and fit very well. The design of the die was defective, though.

This was a used puzzle that I had to verify before listing it on Rare Puzzles. When I verified the puzzle, I found many small fragments. Sometimes, when a puzzle piece has very thin links, a part of the piece can break just by the movement of the pieces inside the bag. In the case of this puzzle, there were too many of them, and it was actually a defect from the factory.

That was the reason why I assembled the puzzle in the first place, in order to verify whether it was actually complete or not. The puzzle was complete, because all the pieces were there. Unfortunately, three of those tiny fragments were missing, so the puzzle will be used for replacements, and not listed for sale.

Image of the Puzzle 1000, Selegiochi, Concave and Convex, Missing Fragment

Notice in this photograph how the shapes of two different pieces actually intersect. This is a defect in the design of the die which I had not seen before. Surprisingly, the little tiny fragment was found during the verification process.

Image of the Puzzle 1000, Selegiochi, Concave and Convex, Defective Die

1000, Selegiochi, Concave and Convex, Maurits Cornelis Escher, 52 x 62 cm, No Reference Number.

Image of the Box of the Puzzle 1000, Selegiochi, Concave and Convex




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Paul Gustav Fischer is the author of The Fire Brigade Turn Out in Kultorvet, Copenhagen. It is a very interesting painting depicting a fire brigade at work in the public square of Kultorvet, in the city of Copenhagen.

Image of the Assembled Puzzle 1500, Falcon, The Fire Brigade Turn Out in Kultorvet, Copenhagen

Kultorvet in the Past

Image of the Kultorvet Square in CopenhagenKultorvet was created after the large Copenhagen fire of 1728, which destroyed a large part of the city. For a very long time, even before the fire, that area of the town was a site for market trade. After that, it continued to be so until the 20th century. Today, it is a beautiful pedestrian area in Copenhagen. In the photograph you can see the square of Kultorvet around the year 1890, which was during the lifetime of Paul Gustav Fischer. In fact, he completed this painting in 1900, so we can say that it looked exactly like that. The main two buildings in the background behind the smoke appear clearly in the photograph.

This was a very nice puzzle, although it was very difficult to assemble. It was not due to the image itself, which includes a lot of variety in details and colors, but for a problem with the jigsaw pieces. For some reason (aging perhaps, since it was an old puzzle), the paper layer with the puzzle image became detached off the cardboard, and I had to be carefully fixing a lot of pieces using glue stick and patience.. It is not uncommon to find pieces that have suffered during the assembling process, mainly with secondhand puzzles. However, this looked more like a factory defect which is not very common. Repairing one or two pieces in a used puzzle is not usually a big deal. However, repairing one hundred is a different story.

1500, Falcon, The Fire Brigade Turn Out in Kultorvet, Copenhagen, Paul Gustav Fischer, 86 x 60 cm, Reference Number 4774.

Image of the Puzzle 1500, Falcon, The Fire Brigade Turn Out in Kultorvet, Copenhagen, Picture of the Box

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The title of the this painting is The Game of Cards, and the author is the Italian artist Raffaello Sorbi. This is the first puzzle that I completed by the brand Fame. This jigsaw brand is not one of the most popular ones, but they have beautiful puzzles. Although they don’t have a very large catalog available, they have been very careful in their choices. For that reason, most of their puzzles are very nice. They even have two large 5000 pieces puzzles that are extremely difficult to find: A Meeting by the Stile, by Heywood Hardy, and An Old Surrey Farm, by Robert Gallon.

Image of the Assembled Puzzle 2000, Fame, The Game of Cards, by Raffaello Sorbi

Cards and other Games

The Game of Cards is a delightful scene where the painter has been able to capture the fun of the game. The way the four characters in the front are depicted is especially interesting. The man sitting at the table seems to be trying to understand, scratching his forehead. In the meantime, the woman sitting in front of him is explaining the reason why he probably lost. Everybody seems to be having a fun time. It is, in summary, a beautiful genre scene. Raffaello Sorbi completed, in fact, a whole series of paintings representing different types of games. The Game of Cards is just one them.

I put this one together in the summer of 2013. It was quite a productive week, since I assembled three puzzles in five days. Plenty of time, background music, and a jigsaw puzzle, which sounds like a good plan to me. I liked this puzzle particularly, although the pieces were thinner than the pieces of most puzzles by other brands. It was not very difficult, though. I eventually listed it at Rare Puzzles and sold it very soon, although I never planned on selling the puzzle when I initially assembled it. However, I know for sure that it went to a very good home.

2000, Fame, The Game of Cards, Raffaello Sorbi, 68.5 x 97.8 cm.

Image of the Puzzle 2000, Fame, The Game of Cards, by Raffaello Sorbi, Picture of the Box

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Educa has a very long tradition of great choices for their jigsaw puzzles, particularly in terms of fine arts puzzles. This 1000 pieces version of The Prophet Daniel, by Michelangelo, is a good example. They manufactured it in the early 80’s. The box corresponds to the design of their earlier puzzles, long before they started to publish them in the beautiful boxes with stripes, or the elegant white box design of the 90’s.

Image of the Assembled Puzzle 1000, Educa, The Prophet Daniel

The Prophet Daniel without the Lions

This fresco painting is part of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo painted a total of 7 prophets from the Old Testament. It was common to represent the figures of the Bible with the attributes that might help people identify them. In the case of the Prophet Daniel, the most important event in the tradition was the fact that they threw him into the den of the lions as a punishment, but an angel saved him. However, in Michelangelo’s portrayal, there is no reference to the lions, which is very interesting. Instead, Michelangelo shows Daniel reading a great book, which is held up by a muscular figure from beneath it.

It is interesting to note that the image of this puzzle corresponds to the painting in the Sistine Chapel before the most recent mayor restoration. Today, the image looks brighter, cleaner, and with much vibrant colors, as Michelangelo painted it.

A Small Puzzle Every Now and Then

When I verified this puzzle, I counted one extra piece that I wasn’t able to detect. For that reason, I decided to assemble it myself, since I loved the image. The previous owner wrote numbers on the back of the pieces, perhaps thinking that he might put it together again. However,  I made the commitment not to cheat, and I completed the puzzle without the hints of the numbers. The pieces were in excellent condition, so I had a great time assembling it. It is unfortunate that the box was not in very good condition.

It took me a couple of days in December of 2017, out of desperation fighting with the 5000 Ravensburger version of The Night Watch. When you are confronted with 4000 dark pieces, you need to complete a small puzzle just to feel that you are making some progress. It was later listed for sale at Rare Puzzles.

1000, Educa, The Prophet Daniel, Michelangelo, 68 x 48 cm, Reference Number 7752.

Image of the Puzzle 1000, Educa, The Prophet Daniel, Picture of the Box

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February 4th is the international World Cancer Day, founded by the Union for the International Cancer Control. It tries to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. However, the primary goal of the World Cancer Day is to reduce illness and death caused by cancer.

Image of the World Cancer Day 2018 Poster

If you are reading this post, chances are that cancer has touched your life or it will do it in the future. I learned it myself not long ago. I also learned to separate things that are important from things that are not. Cancer brings a lot of perspective and it helps to set priorities.

Donations on World Cancer Day

Today I have donated all the sales commissions collected during 2017 to the Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer. They do a great job here in Spain. The Association provides information, supports research, organizes campaigns and runs programs to support families. They even have a 24/7 toll free number to provide help to patients, caregivers and relatives. However, their help comes often in a very humble form. Perhaps a volunteer listening to you in the waiting room of a hospital.

There are similar associations in most countries. The American Cancer Society is one of the most important ones. If you can afford making a donation to any cancer organization in your country, today is the day. You can also make a donation directly through the World Cancer Day website.

If you can not, you can always share the message.

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