Author Archive for: Administrator

Jorge Gallego

About Jorge Gallego

The name Brueghel is very popular among puzzle enthusiasts. There are four main painters with this name and they all belong to the same family line: Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Jan Brueghel the Elder, and Jan Brueghel the Younger. Very often, the jigsaw manufacturer just includes the name Brueghel as the artist and nothing else. Then, there is no way to know who the real author of the painting is. In the case of this puzzle, the only information in the box is Brueghel, but we have to complete the research and find out that the real title of the painting is Landing Place, and the artist is Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Image of the Puzzle 1000, Flamenco, Landing Place, Complete, Picture of the Puzzle Assembled

Other versions of Landing Place

There are two larger versions of this puzzle. MB manufactured a 3000 pieces version in 1981. However, the title in the box is The Cove, which is, in fact, a small sheltered bay, like the one that appears in the painting. I don’t know what source did MB use to come up with that title. The fact is that there are virtually no references online to The Cove. Two years after the version by MB, Ravensburger published another 3000 pieces version, in 1983. This time, the title was Landing Place, which is the one I have used for this puzzle.

The interesting thing about this 1000 pieces version by Flamenco is the fact that the image appears flipped horizontally. The original has the landing water to the left. It seems that Jan Brueghel the Elder was particularly interested in this subject. There are different works with the title River Landscape with Landing Stage, or similar titles, and they are almost indistinguishable. There is even a 1500 pieces jigsaw puzzle by Falcon with the title River Landscape with a Village and a Landing.

Although this puzzle is probably more than 40 years old, the pieces have some really good quality and they have resisted the passing of time very well, despite the fact that they are thinner than most current puzzles. However, the experience was very positive with this my very first Flamenco puzzle. I hope the new owner will share my experience.

1000, Flamenco, Landing Place, by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 49 x 69 cm, Reference number 1000/1142.

Image of the Puzzle 1000, Flamenco, Landing Place, Complete, Picture of the Box

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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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Johann Hamza was a painter of genre who was born in Teltsch on 21 June 1850. He studied under Eduard Von Engerth at the Vienna Academy, and exhibited in Vienna, Dresden and Munich between 1879 and 1890. He died in 1927.

Image of the Assembled Puzzle 2000, Jumbo, In the Library, Johann Hamza

We don’t have a lot of information about him, except that he specialized in genre painting. He liked to depict everyday life by portraying ordinary people in common activities. At a very early age he was already a consummate craftsman who conceived his pictures with a lot of detail. He was very precise depicting the surfaces of all the materials, objects, and figures. This painting is a good example.

Johann Hamza in his Library

Jorge Luis Borges always imagined Paradise as some kind of library. It seems that perhaps Johann Hamza could agree with him, since libraries and books are common topics in his paintings. There are at least five works with the title In the Library, where different gentlemen are sitting reading in a library or a room full of books. Furthermore, some other works represent people reading, like An Old Man Reading, Reading for Pleasure, or Reading on the Terrace. When someone loves books as much as jigsaw puzzles, this Jumbo puzzle is the perfect combination of two great hobbies.

This puzzle was very nice and more challenging than I initially imagined, since there were too many similar pieces with book spines. However, it was not too difficult. Although the puzzle was not new, the quality of Jumbo pieces is very good, and it looked like new. I had two incomplete copies of this puzzle, but they were perfectly compatible, so I was able to put together a complete copy that I listed later at Rare Puzzles. There is an additional copy that will be used for replacements in the future.

2000, Jumbo, In the Library, Johann Hamza, 98 x 68 cm, Reference Number 1746.

Image of the Puzzle 1500, Jumbo, In the Library, Johann Hamza, Picture of the Box

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Most of us are probably familiar with the 1995 epic movie Braveheart, with Mel Gibson. That movie is probably what first comes mind when we mention the name of William Wallace. He was a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders during the wars of Scottish independence from England at the end of the 13th century and beginning of the 14th.

William Wallace won the important Battle of Stirling Bridge against the English army on September 11, 1297. After that, he became Guardian of Scotland until his defeat at the Battle of Farkilk in 1298. Some years later, in 1305, they captured and executed him.

Image of the Puzzle 1500, Jumbo, Trial of William Wallace, Picture of the Puzzle Assebled

The painting by Daniel Maclise represents the trial, which took place on August 23, 1305. Although the title in the box is Trial of William Wallace, the true title of the painting is Wallace’s Trial in Westminster Hall. They charged him with high treason and crimes against English civilians.

The execution of William Wallace

As soon as the scene in the painting concluded, they hanged him. However, they released him while he was still alive. Then, they emasculated him, eviscerated him, and burned his bowels before him. Finally, they beheaded him and cut him into four parts. They placed is head on a pike atop London Bridge. His limbs were displayed, separately, in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Perth. It seems like they did want to send a strong message.

As we can see in the picture, he has a garland of oak as a crown, to signify that he was the king of the outlaws. His figure is big and dominates the scene. His bold countenance aligns with his response to the treason charge: “I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject”.

The puzzle is very nice, with a lot of variety and detail. If I recall well, it was not very difficult and it was a pleasure to assemble. Unfortunately, it was incomplete. That’s what often happens when buying used puzzles. For that reason, it is now added to the Missing Pieces section and it is available for replacements.

There is another very interesting puzzle with a painting by Daniel Maclise: Robin Hood and His Merry Men Entertaining Richard the Lionheart in Sherwood Forest.

1500, Jumbo, Trial of William Wallace, Daniel Maclise, 90 x 60 cm, Reference Number 80076.

Image of the Puzzle 1500, Jumbo, Trial of William Wallace, Picture of the Box

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When you buy a very rare puzzle on the site, perhaps a puzzle that you have been searching for years, you want to be sure that it arrives at its destination in the same condition it left Rare Puzzles. Some visitors or new customers encourage me to pack their puzzles carefully. After that, they have to decide whether they want shipping insurance or not.

We all have received very poorly packed shipments when buying on other online stores or on eBay. Are you familiar with these?

  • Puzzle boxes just wrapped with a couple of thin pages from a newspaper.
  • Wrapping paper that has been taped onto the original puzzle box and then it’s impossible to remove.
  • Loose puzzles within too large cardboard boxes. The puzzle opens inside because they didn’t even tape it closed and the pieces are loose all over the place.

However, if you have ever bought one of my puzzles, then you know you don’t need to worry about packaging. Why? Because they will very likely be the best packages that you will receive. This is what a typical box will look like.

Image of a typical package that is shipped with insurance

  • Two layers of palletizing plastic protect each puzzle, even puzzles that are brand new and also keep the factory seal. That is also the best protection while the puzzles remain in storage.
  • Each puzzle has an additional layer of bubble wrap.
  • The puzzles go in a heavy duty cardboard box. I adjust the box size in order to reduce volumetric weight and shipping costs. Then, I fill the empty spaces within the box with foam and other padding materials.
  • Finally, I wrap the cardboard box itself with sturdy kraft paper (unless the box is really large).

So, if you can be sure that your puzzles always travel in First Class, why buying shipping insurance? Because sometimes shit happens, and insurance can save the day.

Shipping Insurance Just in Case

Image of a Damaged Box with an Apology note from USPS

After several hundred packages shipped through different shipping companies to many countries, a package arrived at its destination completely ruined. It happened in May 2017. That was the first and only time that my puzzles have not arrived in the same condition that they left. USPS included a note that read We Care, although that note didn’t help much with the disappointment of the buyer.

USPS didn’t provide a reason why the package arrived in such condition. It seems that the box was in the water for a long time. On several occasions, customers have said that the package got wet during delivery because it was raining. However, due to the careful packaging, the contents were intact.

In this case, if water passed through the kraft paper, the cardboard box, the bubble wrap, the two layers of palletizing plastic, the original factory seal, the puzzle box, and finally got into the original pieces bag through the tiny breathing holes ruining all the pieces… it is because the package was submerged in water for a long time. Interestingly, the pieces of the used puzzles survived. Water couldn’t get into the zip bags where I place them after verification.

Image of a Damaged Puzzle Box after being submerged

After that, we filed a claim. However, the process was not easy. The buyer had to go to the USPS office several times, fax a form, bring the damaged items… Then, Correos said they couldn’t approve the claim because they had not received confirmation of damage from USPS. So we had to repeat the process again. More emails, more phone calls, more faxes and more visits to the USPS local office. But we finally recovered the declared value, and the shipping costs, just when the buyer was ready to give up.

Pros & Cons of Shipping Insurance

I always recommend getting shipping insurance, even when the odds of damage to a package are less than 1%. It provides ease of mind. In case of loss or damage, you will recover the declared value and the shipping costs. On the other hand, Correos doesn’t have agreements with every country, and it is not possible to buy insurance when shipping to certain destinations, even if you are willing to pay for it.

However, even if you have insurance, a misplaced fax, an incompetent clerk on a mail office, a lack of communication between Correos in Spain and the Mail Service of the country receiving the package, might be enough to lose a rightful claim. That’s what I learned from this experience.

Finally, insurance can trigger Customs inspections. Some customers don’t risk to buy insurance when they know that Customs officers will check the shipment and perhaps charge it with sometimes ridiculously high import taxes.

So, it’s your choice.

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The title of this naval battle is Tribute to Nelson, by the British artist William E.D. Stuart. He flourished as a painter in the mid-19th century, but there is not much information available about this painter or his works. That is surprising, since he has left some exceptional paintings, like this one.

We are assuming it refers to British Admiral Horatio Nelson, but there is no reference to any particular battle or war event. Based on the information on the box, the reproduction for the manufacturer F.X. Schmid was a courtesy of the Rehs Galleries Inc. in New York, USA. After having searched the inventory, I haven’t found this painting, and it is very likely that it went to some private collector.

I completed the puzzle in the summer of 2014. These naval battle puzzles are challenging when they are larger, but in this case it was doable, because there are many different fields of color. It has a lot of detail and variation in shades. Most naval battles have a lot of sea and sky pieces, and they are difficult, but in this painting the scene is full and there are plenty of references, so the puzzle is easy.

Tribute to Nelson and other old Naval Battles

F.X. Schmid has manufactured very nice naval battle puzzles since the 80’s. Another great example is the Battle of Trafalgar, also painted by William E. D. Stuart. A picture of the assembled puzzle is available here. It is unfortunate that puzzle manufacturers don’t use these old paintings anymore.

The exact number of pieces in this puzzle is 1504 (47 x 32). That is usually the number in most 1500 old puzzles by F.X. Schmid, although different brands have their own cut and the exact number varies.

1500, F. X. Schmid, Tribute to Nelson, William E. D. Stuart, 85 x 54 cm, Reference Number 98404.

1500, F.X. Schmid, A Tribute to Nelson, Box

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Many out of catalog puzzles are true collector’s items. Puzzle fans search for them and try to buy them in auctions websites. When the puzzle is really rare, the auctions final prices can reach surprising limits, since very motivated sellers keep bidding against each other.

How much is a puzzle worth? It all depends on the buyer’s motivation. Sometimes a person has been looking for a puzzle for a long time, perhaps years. For that reason, she will be willing to do anything possible to get it. After all, there is no way to know when it will appear again.

Some amazing auctions

Cartoon puzzles sell consistently at higher prices than art puzzles. Some of the large Heye puzzles have recently passed the 1,000 USD selling price, which is a surprising benchmark.

In 2016, the 8000, Heye, New York, Factory Sealed was sold on eBay for 3,050 US dollars.

That’s 0.381 USD per piece.

Until July 16, 2017, that was the highest selling price I had seen for a jigsaw puzzle.

Image of a screenshot of a Japanese auctions website

Screenshot of a puzzle auction in Japan

The 2000, Central Hobby, Villefranche, Teppei Sasakura, Factory Sealed reached 100,000 Japanese yens, or 893 US dollars.

That’s 0.446 USD per piece.

Teppei Sasakura is truly a very interesting artist and illustrator, and the puzzle is beautiful. So, how much is the puzzle worth?

Image of a 2000 pieces puzzle that reached 100000 yens in recent auctions in Japan

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Image of the 1500, F.X. Schmid, Bouquet, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Picture of the Puzzle Assembled

This Bouquet was painted by Jan Brueghel the Elder in 1603. This painter was the son of Pieter Brueghel the Elder and brother of Pieter Brueghel the Younger. At the same time, he was the father of Jan Brueghel the Younger. There are many jigsaw puzzles in the market by all the different members of this family of artists, and I had several of them in my collection. The original painting can be seen at the Alte Pinakothek, in Munich, Germany.

Not being a big fan of paintings with still lifes and flowers, I have completed two jigsaw puzzles with that topic. This one had its own challenges due to the large number of dark pieces. I bought it second hand, I don’t remember when or where, and in the end there were two missing pieces and one seriously damaged, which I ended up discarding.

The puzzle is now available for replacements in the Missing Pieces section.

1500, Schmidt, Bouquet, Jan Brueghel the Elder, 57 x 84.4 cm, Reference Number 625.2636.

Image of the 1500, F.X. Schmid, Bouquet, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Picture of the Box

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I recently wrote a post saying that most people are honest. At least, I have come to that conclusion after having completed a lot of transactions with a lot of people everywhere.

I have had my share of disappointments when buying puzzles, but even in those cases I try not to presume bad intentions.

However, not long ago I had a negative experience on eBay UK and I am convinced that the seller was dishonest.

Judge by yourselves.

I bought the 5000, Falcon, Celebration on the Occasion of the Anniversary of the Military Order of Maria Theresa 1861. The puzzle was described as 100% complete.

The puzzle was sent to my friend in the UK and later shipped to me three months after I bought it. When I verified the puzzle there were 8 missing pieces. I contacted the seller through eBay.

After a week, no answer.

I opened a dispute through PayPal, my first PayPal dispute, asking how he knew that the puzzle was 100% complete, as he had stated in the description. He said that the puzzle was complete and his wife had verified the puzzle two times. He was familiar with Rare Puzzles an he assumed that I had resold the puzzle because it appeared as sold in the website.

I responded saying that the puzzle that appeared listed in the website was not his puzzle (it could be easily seen by the pictures). I asked again how he knew that the puzzle was 100% complete and why his wife needed to verify it two times. Was the first verification inconclusive?


Saying that a puzzle is 100% complete doesn’t mean anything. You need to know how many pieces a particular version of a puzzle is supposed to have. Only then you can say that a puzzle is 100% complete. Some 3000 Jumbo puzzles have 3000 exactly, but others 3008, and yet others 3036, while 3000 Ravensburger puzzles have 2992.


This seller kept saying that his puzzle was 100% complete, but he was unable to explain how he knew it. If he had told me that he knew because he had completed the puzzle himself, I couldn’t have said anything else. If he had told me that he knew because he counted the pieces and he got 5040 pieces, I couldn’t have added a word.

And then, to my surprise, he escalated the dispute for PayPal resolution, despite the fact that I had opened it.

And here is when I learned that he was dishonest. When he escalated the dispute he had the opportunity to provide more input, and he repeated that I had already sold his puzzle at Rare Puzzles making a profit. When he first said that to me, he was making a wrong assumption. After I told him that the puzzle I sold was a different one (it could be seen by the photographs), and I had his puzzle with me, he was simply lying.

He also repeated that his puzzle was 100% complete and there was no point for a refund after three months.

Interestingly, after he escalated the dispute, I was not able to provide any further information. I had the feeling that this seller knew well how to work the PayPal Dispute Resolution on his behalf. I was convinced that PayPal would resolve on his favor.

Then, to my surprise, after PayPal reviewed the case, without requesting further input from me, they resolved in my favor.

It didn’t matter that three months had passed since I bought the puzzle and I was not within the eBay return deadline. The PayPal Buyer Protection still applied.

I returned the puzzle to the seller and got my money back. I lost the return shipping costs from Madrid, but I received a refund for the puzzle.

But most importantly: I learned that the words 100% complete in the description of a puzzle don’t mean anything unless the seller can explain why he knows that the puzzle is complete.

So, the next time you are buying a 100% complete puzzle, ask that question, because sometimes people lie.

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The complete title of this painting is Suburbs of a Paranoiac-Critical Town: Afternoon on the Outskirts of European History, and the artist is the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí. Although Dalí has very strong supporters, he is not one of my favorite painters, and I don’t like this particular work very much. I think I bought the puzzle because it was rare and it was a way to add variety to my collection.

The puzzle was manufactured by MB. The image in the jigsaw puzzle represents only a part of the original. Surrealism is difficult to understand, and it is even difficult to relate the content of the painting and the title. Perhaps they thought it wouldn’t make much difference to crop the image and leave out what I think it’s a significant part of the content.

The puzzle was very easy to assemble. It was completed during the summer of 2014. Once piece was missing and the puzzle is now offered for replacements at the Missing Pieces section.

1500, MB, Suburbs of a Paranoiac-Critical Town: Afternoon on the Outskirts of European History, Salvador Dalí, 79 x 60 cm, Reference Number 3753.23.

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I have been considering for some time the possibility of starting a service to replace missing pieces in old puzzles. Educa’s Lost Piece Service is useful, but when the puzzle is 8 years old, replacements are not available anymore. The Jigsaw Doctor is a great alternative, and the people that have used the service are happy with the work, but…

What if it was possible to replace a missing piece in an old puzzle with a matching original piece?

I have my lot of assembled incomplete puzzles. Perhaps some people might need a piece from my puzzle to complete their incomplete copy. Surely other users have another incomplete puzzle that they might be willing to offer for replacements.

With time, it is possible to build a repository of puzzles available from many different users.

Can it be done?

I got input from visitors and customers, and I went back and forth without making up my mind until I recently completed 4 copies in a row of the 3000, Ravensburger, Oriental Folk Scene. It has helped me learn about puzzles and about the limitations of a lost piece replacement service.


First of all, the same puzzle may have been manufactured at different times of the same year using a different die. In that case, even when the puzzle is the same, the pieces will not be compatible. Of the 7 copies I had of the puzzle, 4 of them had compatible pieces because they were manufactured with the same die.

Does that mean that the pieces of the four compatible puzzles are fully interchangeable and match perfectly?

Well, not really.

The pieces match perfectly in shape. However, depending on the way the cardboard was placed on the cutting press, the images within the piece might not match exactly. The variation can be just a couple of millimeters, but it can be noticed once the piece is in place.

Let’s look at this piece with lines in it.

The shapes of the pieces are identical, but the image inside the piece varies slightly. When you put the piece in place, the lines don’t match and it can be noticed.

If the piece doesn’t have clear lines or it has a less defined image, then it will be difficult to notice. The replacement of this damaged piece can pass undetected.


Another problem is the fact that the colors and shades of the printed image can actually vary, and the replaced piece can be noticed because it looks it has a slightly different color. This happens mainly with solid colors, like pieces belonging to the sky.


And yet, there are examples of perfect matching. You would never guess that in these pictures one of the pieces was a replacement.


Finally, the pieces that belong to the columns or rows at the border of the die, will actually vary in size and might not be compatible because they will be either too large or too small. That will not be a problem if it is a border piece, but it will be if it is a piece in the inner column or row where the die is turned in the press. Luckily, those pieces are barely just 2% of the total.


I think that Educa’s Lost Piece Service would probably have similar shortcomings, and I am sure that the hand crafted pieces manufactured by the Jigsaw Doctor will not be perfect either.

For that reason, my conclusion is that an imperfect replacement will be better than an incomplete puzzle. It’s worth trying.

Let’s start.

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I once bought a puzzle that was described as new. I had specifically asked whether the puzzle was new or used, and the seller told me that it was new.

Then, I received this:

After having bought more than 1000 puzzles all over the world, I think I have been scammed in every continent.

I don’t take it personally anymore. It just happens. And yet, I can confidently say that most people are honest.

I never presume bad intentions, and I tend to think that the cases in which the seller knows positively that he is lying are the exceptions. Of course, I have had some of those too.

Most of the times, the seller simply doesn’t distinguish between new and like new. In his opinion, the puzzle is new because, after all, it was just opened once but never assembled.

But the buyer cannot read his mind. When the puzzle arrives, he opens it, and it doesn’t match the description, it is too late. Even when most sellers will be willing to accept a return, they will not accept refunding the shipping costs and you end up losing. It is very rare that people will take full responsibility.

How to avoid this? You need to ask more specific questions than simply “Is it new or used?”.

If you ask “Are the pieces sealed in the bag?”, it is possible that you receive a used puzzle that has been resealed, for example with those flimsy bags that you can find at the entrance of some supermarkets. It has happened.

If you ask “Are the pieces in the original plastic bag?”, it is possible that you receive a used puzzle with the bag opened. After all, the pieces were in the original plastic bag, and you never asked whether the bag was sealed. It has happened.

So, I normally ask “Are the pieces still sealed in the original plastic bag or the bag with the pieces has been opened before?”. That question is very specific. When the seller responds to that question saying that the bag was never opened, you can be pretty sure that you are receiving a puzzle with the original bag sealed as it came out of the factory.

And yet… people make mistakes.

I once received a puzzle whose bag had been carefully stapled and it actually looked like a sealed bag puzzle when it was placed in the box. It was not. Sometimes the seller of the puzzle is not the original owner and doesn’t know the exact condition. When he checks the puzzle, he might simply think that the bag was sealed.

Sometimes the puzzle arrives with a partial tear through one of the edges of the bag. The bag can accidentally tear when handling it (it has happened to me), and it is difficult to detect if you don’t check it carefully. It is even possible that the bag tears during transit, and if the tear is just several inches long, the pieces don’t even come out of the bag.

In some of these cases I am sure that the seller knew that his description was misleading or simply false, but I want to believe that it is normally due to ignorance or carelessness. You can avoid them by asking very specific questions.

Needless to say, when you buy a used puzzle, the confidence with which a seller says that the puzzle is complete, doesn’t literally mean anything. He might be sure that the puzzle is complete, and he can honestly believe that it is complete, but that doesn’t mean that it is.

Just expect that  one out of every four used puzzles that you buy will be incomplete or defective.

 

 

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We all know how it feels when we buy a used puzzle and it is incomplete.

Sometimes we know long before the puzzle is assembled, when we feel it’s impossible we have missed that corner piece, or there is no way the white piece we are missing will be among all the dark ones that are left.

What if that happens with the same puzzle… 7 times?

The 3000, Ravensburger, Oriental Folk Scene has been jinxed for me. Almost every time I found a copy and got it, the copy was not right and it couldn’t be listed for sale. After verifying the puzzle, there were missing pieces, foreign pieces, damaged pieces, poorly manufactured pieces to replace a missing one… There was always something.

That’s why at Rare Puzzles all the used puzzles listed are complete and in good condition to the best of my knowledge. In order to list a good one, sometimes seven are discarded.

And if I make a mistake, I am always accountable.

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Thank you very much to everyone who has provided input about features and appearance of the new website. The new WordPress theme has been giving me some trouble for some time, but some issues are being solved. Here are some updates:

  • The problem with the display of the images in the catalog has been (finally) solved. The images were not cropped proportionally and visitors couldn’t see the whole picture of the box. That same problem remains in the single product page, but the solution for that is also close.
  • The side navigation that allows users to filter the puzzles based on Brand, Content, Condition, and Number of Pieces was added after it was disappeared for some time. The option to include an additional filter to select In-Stock/Out-of-Stock puzzles is not feasible in WordPress except with some tweaking of the code, which is beyond my knowledge at this point.
  • However, in order to make the navigation easier, the Out-of-Stock items have been removed from the catalog. They are still indexed in search engines and they still appear in searches within the site, but only available puzzles are now listed.
  • The shipping module has not been working, and users received the frustrating message that no shipping method was available. Although I have been reserving puzzles and providing shipping quotes through email communication, I am still working in order to solve it. It should work with Spain now and in the next days I will test it with other countries.
  • The web hosting plan has been upgraded to a supposedly better plan with more server resources. It seemed we had maxed out the capacity of the previous hosting plan, and users were starting to receive error messages, pages loading very slowly, and lost connections. There should have been an improvement in performance.
  • Now that some of the main issues are either solved, or close to be solved, we will start allowing other users to post their own puzzles. There are people waiting for those changes to appear.
  • Finally, since many users are also looking for current puzzles, I have created a side store with puzzles that can be found almost anywhere, but with better prices, as an additional service to Rare Puzzles customers. I wanted it to be separate, but not too far, so the address is store.rarepuzzles.com.

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