Archive for category 5000

Two years ago I decided to a start a Missing Piece Replacement service at Rare Puzzles. I knew it was not easy to find a perfect replacement from a compatible puzzle. However, I thought a bad replacement was always better than an incomplete puzzle. Little by little, the Missing Pieces section increased. However, I never expected to add the wonderful 5000, MB, The Tiger Hunt, by Rubens, to the list. There are around 20 puzzles only listed now, but I’m sure many more will come in the future.

One year ago, I was able to provide a compatible piece for the 5000, Ravensburger, The Night Watch, by Rembrandt. I had sold a used copy with a damaged piece that I had not detected. For that reason, I felt compelled to assemble a compatible copy and find the replacement, which was perfectly good.

Very recently, GijonForEver, who is a a very active puzzle enthusiast and has the best collection of large fine art puzzles in Spain (IMHO), completed the magnificent 5000, MB, The Tiger Hunt. When he started, he was sure that the puzzle was complete. However, he got a missing piece when he finished. Bummer!

At around the same time, I had found with his help a “sealed bag” copy of this puzzle. As it happens many times, the puzzle didn’t come with a sealed bag, as the seller assured. It was, in fact, incomplete. At least the pieces were in excellent condition and I figured I would keep the puzzle for future replacements.

A perfect piece replacement for The Tiger Hunt

The silver lining is that both puzzles were compatible. That meant there was a good chance that we could fix his copy with mine. Since I had not assembled my puzzle, I gave him my copy and GijonForEver looked for the missing piece himself. Since it was a piece with three heads, it didn’t take him too long to locate it.

The piece was perfect. There is no way to know it was not the original one. The fit, the pattern within, and the shade of green were exactly the same. GijonForEver was really happy because he had now his puzzle complete. And I was very happy too because there was no better use of the Missing Piece Replacement service of Rare Puzzles than fixing such a gem by MB. Besides, GijonForEver happens to be a really great cook. I know he will prove it to me again in the future and for a very good reason now.

This is just a small success story. It simply shows that the project of getting replacements for most of the major classic fine art puzzles is viable. It will take time, for sure, but it can be done. I’m sure in the future there will be many more puzzles available for replacements. And we will be able to fix many other puzzles, like this one. Puzzles like The Tiger Hunt are truly worth it.

Image of the complete 5000, MB, The Tiger Hunt

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There is a reason why The Night Watch, which Ravensburger produced in 1977, still appears quite often (usually in used condition), despite the fact that it is more than 40 years old. Other large puzzles of the late 70’s and 80’s are very rare, like Country Fair, for example, which Ravensburger published just two years later.

Image of the puzze 5000, Ravensburger, The Night Watch, by Rembrandt, Puzzle Assembled

Now that I have completed it, I know the reason. It is one of the most difficult jigsaw puzzles out there. I remember when I completed years ago the 6000 pieces Schmidt version of The Allegory of Spring. Back then, I felt it was a real challenge to complete those last thousand pieces, which were mostly dark.

In this case, it was the other way around. After placing one thousand pieces, I had around four thousand pieces left that were mostly dark. This puzzle doesn’t compare to any puzzle that I have assembled before. In fact, I have now the feeling that I got my Master’s Degree in puzzles. Before The Night Watch, I was just an undergraduate student. Now I truly feel that I can put together ANY jigsaw puzzle.

The Night Watch becomes the “Nightmare”.

Soon after you place all the pieces that have distinct fields of color, you hit a wall. In the photograph of the puzzle assembled, it is possible to distinguish the different tones. However, when the pieces are separate on the working table, they all look the same: dark.

I had never hit such wall before, with any puzzle. For the first time, I was able to put myself in the shoes of the people that have ever quit working on a puzzle. I couldn’t understand before, but now I did. I guessed The Night Watch is probably the puzzle that most people have abandoned. And that is probably the reason why it appears often in used condition. Since the assembly process is also longer, I have the feeling that the odds of used versions of this puzzle being incomplete are high.

The middle stages of the assembly process are very hard. There were days when I could only place eight or ten pieces, so I had to intersect smaller puzzles just to take a break; just to have the feeling that I was making some progress and keep my motivation alive. Even at the end, when I was making progress consistently, placing single pieces required looking closely to the image. It was not uncommon that four pieces could fit almost perfectly in the same place, so it was difficult to decide which one was the right one.

For all these reasons, the people that have completed this puzzle have my deep and sincere respect.

My motivation to complete The Night Watch.

Fortunately for me, I had a strong motivation to complete this puzzle, which was in fact the first reason to start it in the first place. Otherwise, who knows? Perhaps I would not have quit, but it would have surely taken me much, much longer.

I had sold a used and complete version of this puzzle. However, my customer discovered that one piece was slightly damaged. One of the knobs of a piece was missing, and I didn’t detect it during the verification process because with the missing knob it looked like a border piece. Bummer!

So, I decided to find a replacement or send a full refund. First I bought a used copy that was not compatible, but luckily the second copy that I bought was compatible. When I verified it, it was incomplete, but it didn’t make much difference anyway, since I bought it in order to find a replacement piece for my customer and later leave it for replacements. It was actually better if it was incomplete. As you can see in the photograph of the puzzle assembled, there are some missing pieces, but I knew it from the very beginning.

In any case, after verifying with photographs that the replacement piece would match, I sent it to my customer and the replacement was perfect. That defective piece had been bothering me for a whole year, but I was finally able to solve the problem. That was my way of making myself accountable.

The Night Watch will now be added to the Missing Pieces section.

5000, Ravensburger, The Night Watch, Rembrandt, 152.9 x 101.4 cm, Reference number 625 5 902 0.

Image of the puzzel 5000, Ravensburger, The Night Watch, by Rembrandt, Picture of the box

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