Archive for category Ravensburger

There are two main reasons why I like Ravensburger puzzles, apart from the image of the puzzle itself. One of them is the matte finish of their pieces. They show a distinctive texture that I prefer over other brands that tend to have glossy surfaces. That matte finish is also common in Clementoni puzzles. The other reason is the excellent quality of the pieces and the way the poster is glued to the cardboard. It is not uncommon to find a 50 year old used copy, like the Wedding Tour, and enjoy a jigsaw puzzle that looks like new.

Image of the puzzle 750, Ravensburger, The Wedding Tour, by Moritz von Schwind, Picture of the box

The preference for matte finish is quite a personal choice. They say that in matters of taste there can be no disputes (de gustibus non est disputandum). However, I think most puzzle fans would agree on the excellent quality of old Ravensburger puzzles. In fact, they even tend to weigh more than most other brands. That means that the cardboard used is more dense or thicker. A puzzle by Ravensburger will normally be heavier than most other brands, with perhaps the exception of Jumbo and some old MB puzzles that were unusually thick.

An incomplete Wedding Tour

That’s why sometimes it is not a big deal to get an incomplete puzzle, like this 750 pieces version of The Wedding Tour, by Moritz von Schwind. It is a great excuse to complete it and recall all the reasons why I started assembling jigsaw puzzles: a beautiful piece of art and a high quality puzzle. Besides, old puzzles by Ravensburger have many flat pieces, which make them more challenging. Those flat pieces are uncommon in modern puzzles by the German brand.

The painting is also known as The Wedding Journey, or The Honeymoon. When I verified the puzzle, I got 757 pieces, which was quite unusual. Then I learned that many old 750 pieces puzzles by Ravensburger and MB brought exactly 759 pieces (33 x 23). Whenever I assemble an incomplete puzzle, I always wish that the puzzle might be magically complete when I finish it. It didn’t happen: the puzzle had 2 missing pieces.

In any case, it was a pleasure to complete. I don’t remember how long it took me, since I never time my puzzles. In the past I used to jot down the day I began and the day I finished, but I don’t do it anymore. I probably started one day and finished the next day, since I probably had some other things to do. What I do remember is that I had a great time, and that’s what putting together a puzzle is all about, I guess.

The puzzle is now part of the Missing Pieces section, in case someone has a compatible copy and needs a replacement.

750, Ravensburger, The Wedding Tour, Moritz von Schwind, 39.5 x 59 cm, Reference number 15.473.

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When I verified this old and beautiful Ravensburger puzzle on February 10, 2016, the final count was 2003 pieces. However, I was able to detect 3 clearly foreign pieces. For that reason, I was hoping that this Liberation Celebration, by French artist André Bauchant, would be complete. It is not easy to find a puzzle from 1976 in excellent condition, so I was optimistic when I could spot the foreign pieces.

Image of the puzzle 2000, Ravensburger, Liberation Celebration, by André Bauchant, Picture of the puzzle assembled

Foreign and extra pieces

However, when I detect a foreign piece in a puzzle during the verification process, I never list it for sale right away. Why? Because if there is a foreign piece that I have detected, it is possible that there is another one that I have not detected. After all, a foreign piece in a puzzle indicates a careless owner. For that reason, I simply put it aside with the intention of completing it some time in the future.

The same applies when I get extra pieces but I am unable to detect foreign ones. If a puzzle must have 1530 pieces, for example, and I get 1531, then the puzzle is not listed for sale. Only when I get the right number, I assume that the puzzle is complete, and in most cases it is. There have been, however, one or two cases when the puzzle seemed to be complete, but there was a foreign piece that I had not detected. When the buyer assembled the puzzle, he ended up with a missing piece and a piece that didn’t belong. In both cases, I got another copy of the puzzle, put it together myself, and sent it to the buyer already assembled. Even Homer nods.

4 foreign pieces in Liberation Celebration

Image of the puzzle 2000, Ravensburger, Liberation Celebration, by André Bauchant, Picture of the foreign pieces

Unfortunately, soon after I started working on this puzzle, I found another foreign piece. I had not detected it during the initial verification. Ops! That meant that the puzzle was going to be incomplete, as it finally was. Now, I wonder how those pieces ended up in a different puzzle box. The size and form of those foreign pieces made me think that they belonged to some of the old puzzles by Waddington. They are very similar to the pieces of Diana Hunting, for example.

In any case, this Liberation Celebration was absolutely delightful. It is amazing how Ravensburger cardboard pieces remain in excellent condition after more than 40 years. The vibrant colors and the great amount of detail made me enjoy the experience as much as when I started with the hobby. It was refreshing.

It is a shame that the puzzle was finally incomplete, but it was a great excuse to put it together. The puzzle will now be available for replacements.

2000, Ravensburger, Liberation Celebration, André Bauchant, 98 x 75 cm, Reference number 625 5 816 4.

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The Dinner at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, by Pierre-Georges Jeanniot, is not one of my favorite puzzles. That doesn’t mean it is not a nice and entertaining puzzle, which it is. Besides, it is always a pleasure to complete a Ravensburger puzzle due to the good quality of their pieces. However, I don’t think I would have chosen it in the first place if I had had a choice.

Image of the puzzle assembled 1500, Ravensburger, The Dinner at the Hotel Ritz in Paris

We are all human and we all make mistakes. I sold this puzzle to a customer in Poland, complete and with the pieces in excellent condition. However, when my customer finished the puzzle, he discovered that there was a foreign piece. That meant that the puzzle was actually incomplete. Ops! I think I can always detect foreign pieces, but I couldn’t detect this one.

I found and bought another copy of the puzzle, hoping that it would be compatible with my customer’s copy. That way, I could get a replacement piece for him. However, the copy was not compatible. Then, I assembled the puzzle and sent it to my customer in layers. Eventually he had the whole puzzle replaced and his work putting it together was not lost.

At home at the Hotel Ritz

Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset wrote about the Hotel Ritz in one of his articles. He basically stated that no matter where you travelled around the world, if you stayed at a Ritz Hotel, you always had the feeling that you were staying at the same place, like at home. All these hotels have a tradition of refinement and elegance, particularly the one in Paris. For that reason, if you were at the Ritz, you were always at the same hotel.

Marcel Proust said something similar. In the 2nd volume of his masterpiece In Search of Lost Time, the protagonist and his grandmother travel to a similar luxury hotel in the fictional city of Balbec, where the aristocratic patrons felt “at home” the moment they climbed the marble-imitating stairs of the hotel.

Precisely the Hotel Ritz in Paris had a guest that felt at home: Coco Chanel, who lived in the hotel for 34 years, routinely using the staff entrance on Rue Cambon. She was intimately linked to the Ritz Paris and she decorated her Suite herself. Although she started to live in the hotel at the beginning of World War II, she was 21 years old when Pierre-Georges Jeanniot completed this painting, so she could have been one of the ladies in white having dinner.

You can stay at the Coco Chanel Suite in the Hotel Ritz in Paris for just 18000 euros per night.

1500, Ravensburger, The Dinner at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, Pierre-Georges Jeanniot, 84 x 60 cm, Reference number 16 258 1.

Image of the puzzle 1500, Ravensburger, The Dinner at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, Picture of the box

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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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Naval battle images like The Four Days’ Battle make beautiful puzzles. That’s why most jigsaw puzzle manufacturers have used these images in their catalogs for decades. Several classic puzzles come to mind, like the extraordinary 6000 pieces version of The Battle of Lepanto, by Andrea Vicentino. However, for some reason naval battles are not popular anymore. As a consequence, all those puzzles are now out of catalog and very difficult to find. In fact, the last time a classic naval battle puzzle puzzle appeared was 1998, when Educa manufactured, again, The Battle of Lepanto, by H. Letter.

Some puzzle fans say that the name naval battle is not the best for this type of puzzles. Instead, the name should be sky and sea puzzles. After all, most of the pieces belong to huge areas of sea and sky, while the ships are often just a small part of the image. While that is true, and sometimes there are large areas of solid tones that are very challenging, the truth is that most of these puzzles are magnificent. The Four Days’ Battle, which Ravensburger manufactured in 1974, is a good example. It is, however, unfortunate that we need to go back more than 40 years in order to find a classic naval battle puzzle.

Image of the puzzle 1500, Ravensburger, Four Days Battle, by Abraham Storck, Picture of the puzzle assembled

Four Days: June 11 to June 14.

This battle took place from June 11 to June 14 1666 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and it is considered the greatest sea fight of the Age of Sail. In fact, it remains one of the longest naval engagements in history. The conflict was between England and the Dutch Republic for control over the seas and trade routes. England tried to end the Dutch domination of world trade during a period of intense European commercial rivalry. However, after initial English successes, the war ended in a Dutch victory.

It is likely that Abraham Storck enjoyed painting The Four Day’s Battle, since he was Dutch. Had he been English, perhaps he woudn’t have painted the scene at all. He had a great reputation for his marine paintings and different brands have published puzzles with his works. Jumbo published a 3000 pieces version of Sham Fight on the River Y, and Nathan published a 2000 version of Frigate in Amsterdam.

I assembled the puzzle during a weekend and I had a great time. Although I couldn’t work with natural light, the puzzle was not too difficult. It is amazing how Ravensburger puzzles remain in great shape after several decades have passed.

1500, Ravensburger, The Four Days Battle, Abraham Storck, 84.1 x 59.4 cm, Reference number 625 5 636 6.

Image of the puzzle 1500, Ravensburger, Four Days Battle, by Abraham Storck, Picture of the box

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