The Port of Tripoli, Flemish School, signed JVO, c. 1650. 12 ¾" x 19 ¾", $460
The Port of Tripoli is one of the first puzzles I made at the very beginning of J. C. Ayer & Co. circa 1986. The original was painted on wood. My brother Rick had it in his apartment in Paris. We propped it up in indirect sunlight and photographed it. I had a Rollei and Rick had a 35mm Minolta . We used both slide and color negative film. Very amateurish but somehow we got a good result which made some of my first puzzles.
When we went digital, I lost the original. Recently we found a high quality digital copy while reworking the website. I t is a really good picture and a good puzzle. I think the unknown painter painted the mountain in a dream. The pastel colors of the mountain, sky and sea blend together to add a bit of difficulty for the puzzler.
If you’d like to try it, visit my website to order it here.
Many years ago, my great grandfather founded J. C. Ayer & Company, which provided remedies to customers around the world. This new puzzle features one of the original advertisements from Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral. Below, alongside a picture of the puzzle, you will find one customer’s accolades from an issue of Ayer’s Almanac from 1868, which was translated into many languages and distributed world-wide. This puzzle is 7″ x 11″ and has 174 pieces.
Make Believe Ballroom by Larry Rivers
Years ago this puzzle was in my catalog. I am putting it back on my website because I really like the picture and have redesigned small puzzles to have many more, smaller pieces. In spite of its size, Make Believe Ballroom has more than 200 pieces.
I am just old enough to have seen the great Disney films and Broadway musicals when they first opened though I was pulled away from the last episode of Fantasia, Walpurgisnacht, deemed too much for my tender young mind. That theatre and the songs from Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and others wonderfully fought the depression and the following war with laughter. Make Believe Ballroom is in the same spirit. Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire could have been dancing on that bed.
Long, narrow, standard puzzles that better fit the new formats, 10×15 and 15×22 will be made bigger with more pieces for the same price. Koran Cover is the first to change. The Elephant and the Mouse will change soon. Both puzzles were almost the same size and the picture below shows the difference.
I have been basing the sizes of my puzzles on the photographic standard: 8×10, 11×14 and 16×20. These sizes are now less relevant than they used to be. Like movies and television, the new standard is more horizontal. Many digital camera sensors follow the 24×36 millimeter standard, a width to length ratio of 1 to 1 1/2. So now I will offer puzzles based on the new standard as well as the old. The new sizes are 7×11, 10×15 and 15×22. Here is an example of a custom puzzle I made under the old standard and what it would be under the new:
The puzzle was 8.75 x 13.7 from an 11×14. Now I would make it 9.4 x 14.7 from a 10×15. I forsee making almost all of my special puzzles this way and, as time goes by, my standard puzzles as well. Prices will remain the same.
This is my newest puzzle. I bought the original painting in the 1960s because the painter’s style reminded me of Van Gough. The painter, Janvier, seems to be unknown. I can find nothing on Google and my Haitian daughter-in-law knows nothing about her either. I was told somewhere that she is/was a woman. I would like a comment from someone who knows something about her.
This is a large puzzle, almost 16 x 20. I have not put it together yet; I think it will be difficult. Like Lion with Gray hair, it is a new design.
This is my first new standard puzzle since Bicentennial Baloons and The House of the Seven Gables (scroll way back to April 10th 2009). The picture is by Salnave Philippe Auguste. He uses his last two names to sign his work but if you google him, use his first name to separate him from a medieval French king named Philippe Auguste. As you can see Philippe Auguste was influenced by Henri Roussseau as was Millevoix ( Jungle Scene, post dated November 9th, 2009 ).
Lion with Gray Hair is the first puzzle that I have designed completely from scratch in a very long time. I hope my designs have improved over the years but I am not so sure about that. All the figure pieces are animals, some extinct. I have tried to make the pieces a little smaller than in past designs. The puzzle is 13.2 x 19.7 and has about 660 pieces. I do think it is more difficult than Jungle Scene, a much earlier design.
I am working on another puzzle, designed from scratch, with a picture by a Haitian artist but one who, it would appear, was influenced by Vincent van Gogh rather than Henri Rousseau.
This puzzle of a painting by Berio Gizzi has been in my collection for some time. It’s a sleeper and should be more popular than it has been. To start with the original painting is amazing. It is the opposite of impresionistic, carefully composed and meticiously crafted. To quote from my 1999 catalog “The images include a portrait by Van Eyck, a photograph of Mr. Gizzi’s daughter, one of the artist’s own landscapes and a porcelain doll. The stairway after which the painting is named is dimly reflected in a mirror.” I assume that the person who ultimately puts the puzzle together has gotten it as a gift, does not know the picture and will be astonished seeing it evolve as the puzzle is put together. The cut design has several large figures made of more than one piece. I guess I can say that both the picture and puzzle design are equally quirky.
I never realized that there can be beautiful images in Korans just as there are in the Bible. This is the leather front cover of an old Koran. My father sent me a transparency of it, probably as a sly way to point out that there is a whole world out there beyond our western European tradition. The cover is old. You can see that in the picture. I did not “clean” the image up in Photoshop; I wanted the image to show its age. Koran Cover and the Elephant and the Mouse ( blog dated September 15th, 2009 ) are my most popular small, standard puzzles. They are both relatively easy because the wide borders can be put together first.
If you would like to follow Gracie’s latest exploits ( blog dated May 15th, 2009 ), go to www.whitediamondterriers.com. Under Daily Blog look up December 17th.
Here is another Haitian painting that is reproduced as a very good puzzle. We could find nothing about the painter who signs himself (or herself) MILLEVOIX. All we know is that he studied under, or more likely, was inspired by Henri Rousseau, also known as Le Douanier. It is only natural for Haitian painters to turn to France for inspiration. I designed the puzzle with 39 figure pieces, mostly animals, and 6 more figures made up of more than one piece. One of those bigger figures is a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, London to Edinburgh model*. I reference them for those of you who might be interested in trivia from the past.
*That link might be broken. If so go to the top option:.rrch.ch, etc.
Enough standard puzzles from Haiti though I must say good primitive art from Haiti makes great puzzles. Next week – combining images in Photoshop to make a fun puzzle.