Putting Together the World's Largest Jigsaw Puzzle

About the puzzle
Name: Historical World Maps
Number of Pieces: 18,240
Size when put together: About 276 x 192 cm (6.3 x 9 feet)
Made in Germany, 2002

About the Assembly
Participants: Chris and Naomi Hathaway
Start/End Date: April 25, 2004 to April 17, 2005
Number of Man Hours: Way too many to count.

The Puzzle

The World's Largest Jigsaw Puzzle

The Story

I served and LDS mission in Austria, where puzzles and board games are considerably more popular than here in the states. Well, one P-Day, we were just shopping around and I saw this puzzle from Ravensburger (a German company). I thought to myself, "Man, who in their right mind would try to put together something like that." Well, about a year later, I was back home and dating my future wife, Naomi. I found out she enjoyed puzzles and games, so the next time we were at the local game shop, I had to show her this monster of a puzzle. When she saw it, she immediately exclaimed, "Ahh, I love maps! I want to do this puzzle." So, a few months later, she bought it on eBay for a lot less than it usually costs (it's usually about 175, but we got it for just over 100). We were rather relieved when we opened it up and found that the four maps that fit together to make the big puzzle were in separate bags, so it was more like doing 4 4500-piece puzzles, but still a monstrous task. So, on April 25, 2004, we started on the first of the four maps.

After getting through a large part of the first portion of the puzzle, we realized we needed to start thinking about how to store the parts of the puzzle as we completed them. Naomi lived in a small college apartment, so we could barely fit one panel at a time, and then, after we got married, we still could only fit one fourth of it in our study, where we continued to work on it. Eventually, we came across an idea that worked quite nicely. Whenever we needed to move a portion of the puzzle (or store it so we could start on the next one), we would place the puzzle on a large piece of felt, then take a long cardboard tube and simply roll it up. As we finished each fourth, we would simply roll it up on top of the old one. This made the puzzle very portable and storeable, despite its great size. After finally finishing all four panels, we simply unrolled each in our living room (the only room big enough to fit them all), and connected them together to reach the final product. We completed the puzzle just under one year later, on April 17, 2005.

Now, I must give credit where credit is due; my wife Naomi was the main contributor in putting together this puzzle (she is much better at it than I), and probably was responsible for at least 80% of the complete puzzle, while I chipped in the other 20% (I did most of the sorting of pieces, and helped somewhat in the assembly). I would say the most difficult part of the puzzle was the thick gold band that separated each panel. The pieces were all the exact same color, and often times, pieces would fit in a place fine, but then at the end there would be pieces that didn't fit in the leftover holes, so you had to keep trying different rearrangements until all of the pieces fit. I never had the patience to do that kind of work; that was all my wife.

As soon as we find a house big enough, I would like to have the puzzle glued together and hung in a study or library, though this may not be for many years to come. Naomi is not nearly as concerned; she, I think, is just glad that it's done. I searched online quite a bit, and only found 2 (maybe 3) instances of people reporting to actually finish the entire puzzle, but I believe we did it the quickest. Plus, when we started, we were only engaged, and so we had probably a good month break in July when we were married. And no, we didn't have a puzzle-themed wedding :)

 

Comments

Puzzle

I was very pleased to find that someone has completed the total 18,000 piece World Maps puzzle.  I have been quite curious if anyone completed it and how many.  Only those that have completed a section can appreciate the involvement of doing this puzzle. 

I am about 90 % finished with the 4th section, but I did not complete all of the borders.  I just had to many problems and to much frustration.  I knew I would have problems joining the sections and I also had no place to even try, so I straight edge cut the borders.

I was very much impressed with your complete picture.

Sincerely,  Jim Bowman

 

 

My fiance has a fasination

My fiance has a fasination with maps since he is a civil engineer and land surveyor. He found this site with your story and began his search to find and purchase this puzzle (he's amazing at them)! After almost 3 years of looking in stores around Iowa and online we found not a single one. We did however see them online priced at over $250 and an extra $50 for shipping at the cheapest but always unavailable since they don't make it anymore. Just today we went into a mall in Des Moines, IA to do Christmas shopping and I seen this puzxle. My fiance's jaw dropoed! We couldn't believe it was sittong in front of us! I purchased it for him for $160, a great steal compared to the prices we have seen online! Austin, my fiance, walked away with the biggest smile on his face and perhaps the best Christmas presrnt ever! We haven't decided if we want to put it together and hang it in his office at work or save it as a collectors item, being it is over 10 years old and not made anymore...but we are leaning more on putting it together :) I am hoping to keep a log of how many hrs it takes us to put together and time it takes!

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Chris and Naomi,

What a beautififul puzzle and a big job you did.
My last puzzle job was together with a good friend: 9000 pieces ''Astrology'' from Ravensburger.

I also write you to solve a problem.
I want to buy the puzzle ''Country Seasons 18,000 Piece Large Format Jigsaw Puzzle'' from Bits & Pieces.
In the USA I can't buy it, because there comes no ship into the direction of Europes (Bit& Pieces told me).

Do you know another solution ?

Greetings and thanks,

Bart van Cleef
Delft

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got some questions

hello

i m pornthep from thailand

i m planning to buy and complete the 18000 pcs puzzle

but i got some questions to ask you

 well first of all congrats about ur wedding n completion of a big puzzle

1. is it too fast to try the 18000 pcs by just doin a few 1000 pcs jigsaw puzzle which took 2 weeks(half hour each day)

 2. is the pieces good n what about the shape is every pieces got the same shape??

3.did yu guys have trouble with any main part apart from the borders

4.are yu putting a frame around the jigsaw?
thanx a lot

hope yu wontt mind me askin a lot !!

:) 

answers to some questions

1. This puzzle took longer than other puzzles mostly because I would get tired of working on it and take much longer breaks than I would with smaller puzzles. Each of the four sections took 2-3 months and I would take long breaks before I would start the next one. If I worked on it constantly I could have had it done much sooner. The trick is sticking to it and not giving up.

2. There are different shapes for pieces, but I did start to notice patterns. Skinnier pieces went one way and short fat pieces went the other direction. There were less odd shaped pieces and they often seemed to go in straight lines vertically throughout the puzzle. The border was hard because lots of the pieces fit together even though they were in the wrong place and there was no picture to tell you if you were right or not since they all looked the same.

3. I would say other than the border the hardest thing were some of the oceans on the maps. Especially the one where the whole thing was cream colored with black dots. There was just a lot to do. I always saved the maps for last and did the ocean very last.

4. For now we're storing the puzzle on big pieces of felt rolled up around cardboard tubes. When we get to a more permanant home someday we will probably glue the puzzle together and maybe frame it.

Ravensburger Puzzle question

Hi,

I am writing all the way from South Africa. Congratulations on finishing the puzzle. I imported the puzzle for my wife last year after she spotted it on the internet. It was not available here in South Africa, so we asked a family member to send us one from the States. We have a puzzle room and I built my wife a special puzzle table to accommodate the puzzle. She has been buzy on the puzzle all by herself (I have my own hobbies) for almost a year and hopes to finish within the next two weeks. However, she seems to struggle with the golden border and I was hoping that you could provide some help. She would like to know how many rows make up the golden borders between the four maps, both the one horizontally and vertically? At the moment the left two puzzles fit perfectly onto the right two puzzles with no additional rows of gold, meaning that they only have a thin golden border separating them (equal to 2x half a puzzle piece = thickness of roughly one puzzle piece). On the other hand, the border between the top and bottom two maps seem to be a thick border and she was expecting all the borders, the ones in-between and the ones on the outside, to be the same thickness (same number of golden rows). Referring to the golden border pieces that come with one quarter of the puzzle (one map), how much of the dividing border does it cover and is this the same for each quarter? The number of golden border pieces just doesn't make sense at the moment. I am hoping to save her some agony and frustration by getting some advice on how to approach these borders. A good start would be to know how thick (number of puzzle rows) each border is.

border thickness

I don't remember exactly how many rows thick the border was and unfortunately we have the puzzle rolled up and stored right now. My recollection is that the border was about 3-4 rows thick. The problem with the gold pieces is that they do fit together in a variety of ways so your wife may have fit them together incorrectly and may still need to add a row of gold pieces. I'm glad I don't have to do those gold pieces again. I about lost my mind. Hopefully you can get some other feedback here from others who have done the puzzle more recently and can give you a more accurate number. In the picture above you can at least see how equal the border looks around the edges and in between the maps.

18000 puzzle

I have done the maps and I'm doing the Jungle one now (by myself - I'm the only puzzler in the household). I have done many oversize puzzles and have always opened all the bags and dumped all the pieces into the box together. I made the mistake of doing this with the maps. The border is indeed 4 pieces thick and having all border pieces mixed together made me completely nuts. So on the current one I separated the border pieces and did those in 4 separate quadrants, but then dumped all the non-border pieces in the box and mixed them up so I'm really doing one large puzzle and not 4 mid-sized ones.

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18000 piece maps puzzle

Hi Chris and Naomi,

I want to thank you for posting your comments and advice in regard to constructing the 18000 piece Ravensburger World Maps puzzle. I know I am commenting almost a decade after the completion of your puzzle, but I bought the puzzle many years ago and am still working on it. I just finished one section of the puzzle and I have been constructing it for four years! The advice for finding the pattern of the puzzle has been extremely helpful. I am having trouble with the gold border as well. I have thirteen piece left and I know that I placed gold pieces incorrectly long ago even though the pieces do fit. All in all, it has been fun to construct a puzzle of this magnitude; it is family time well spent.

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