Saturday, March 2, 2024

Need a home to store your 80,000 puzzles? Want to experience an Italian castle?

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Meet Millers, George and Roxanne, owners of the world’s largest collection of mechanical puzzles. Mechanical puzzles are physical objects that puzzle enthusiasts hold and manipulate while searching for solutions. The Mirror Collection (collection of collections and collections of collections) totals over 80,000 puzzles. It consists of approximately 5,000 of Rubik’s cubes, including his 2 x 2 x 2 rendering of Darth Vader’s head. There are also more than 7,000 wooden Burr puzzles, including interlocking polyhedral pieces by Massachusetts puzzle maker Stewart Coffin. They are reminiscent of a combination of pine cones and snowflakes, and are Miller’s favorite. Mrs. Miller loves the 140 puzzle sculptures in brass, bronze and gold by Spanish artist Miguel Berrocal. Goliath, a man’s torso made up of 79 pieces, is “the puzzle that all puzzle lovers aspire to,” she said.

Until recently, Miller’s collection was located at the Puzzle Palace in Boca Raton, Florida, filling the mansion and the museum (small house) next door. Even the bathroom was occupied by puzzles. And last year, on a whim, the Millers bought his 52-room 15th-century castle in the central Italian village of Panicale. They packed his collection of puzzles into five 40-foot shipping containers and booked a cruise from Miami to Rome to transport them.

Before setting sail in April, the Millers embarked on a two-month road trip — which Mr. Miller called a “last hurray” — traveling from coast to coast visiting puzzle-loving friends. Ta. Along the way, they accumulated even more puzzles. In Garden Grove, Calif., 58 boxes from Marty Reis were loaded into a cargo van. Ms. Reis donated a collection of profane pun puzzles by designer RG Gee Watkins. These include the “diamond ring,” a dime coin with a metal ring running through the center of the coin. . Lee Krasnow, a puzzle maker with production facilities in Portland, Oregon, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, met the Millers at a puzzle party outside Austin, Texas, and handed them his famous clutch box. Constructed from exotic hardwood and precision machined metal, it opens with a subtle unlocking mechanism. The goal, Miller says, is simply “the thrill of opening it.” And “if you dare,” Krasnow added in an email, the goal is to “completely disassemble it into about 40 individual parts.”

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