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.
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 :)