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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puzzel

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.

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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18000 puzzle

Hello there,

My name is Jason and I too just got married the day before you started the mammoth puzzle (5/16/05). I think you guys did finish it quicker than I but I had virtually zero help, especially from my wife. She is NOT a puzzle person. It took me about 360 days, with a 3 month break in the summer. I do believe I am the first in the US to complete it though. A lady in Ireland finished in Oct of 03 and I was Dec 03. It was a lot of fun to do. I was on 2 news stations and in the local paper. Right now the puzzle is in my local mall here in Rochester, NY at a game store that sells puzzles. I guess everyone loves it. I did build a nice frame around it too. My story is listed at puzzlehistory.com  under record breaking puzzles.  Although I guess it is not the largest anymore.  Did you hear about the  22,4000  and also 19 something  thou.  Trying to get myhands on now. Will keep yoiu posted.

Jason 

Big puzzles

I just found your page trough a forum, and i found a link for those big puzzles that you mention. You can see them here:

http://www.art-puzzle.com/irw_list.5747535030303033.html

We have started out with a bit smaller ones at 1000 pcs and have made those for many years because we havent had the space, but want more challenge since we can make those in about 8 hours now non-stop. We only have a 20 squaremeter livingroom and an ordinary dinnertable :-) I also understand now that any puzzle can be done - its just a matter of time, rather than experience :-)

I also understand that those enormous puzzle only is made once in a lifetime.

Sincerely, Anette from Denmark

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18000 puzzle...again

sorry i mean to say 4/16/05 was my wedding date not 5/16

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Puzzle madness

When Naomi put together the 3D golden hollogram puzzle, I thought she was a mix of crazy and amazing. Now I know that she's just plain crazy!

Just kidding. I am amazed that you guys finished it!!!

You deserve an award or something.

I wish I knew this was on the internet last year...ha ha...i know my comment is a little late.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

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18000 tropical impressions puzzle

Hi,

my name is maarten storms, I'm 23 years old ant i live in bevel (it's a small town close to antwerp, in belgium). I just wanted to congratulate you guys with your accomplishment. I'm currently working on the tropical impressions jigsaw from ravensburger. This is the second 18000 piece puzzle they make. I'm now very close to finishing the whole thing (i think i have about 2000 pieces left to lay). I started it on december 25, 2005 and i'm set on finishing before june 25, 2006. So i will have worked on it for 6 months (it's fast but i don't know if it's a speed record... and yes, i did it all by myself). Before this puzzle i did a 12000 piece ravensburger (NYC skyline, printed in 1998, and bought via Ebay...the skyline like i will remember it forever, with the 2 WTC towers). I started this in the beginning of september 2005, and finished on december 4, 2005. Then i did a 1000 piece clementoni (an italian company) puzzle, and on december 25, 2005 i started with my current mission. So if I finish before june 25, i will have done +31000 pieces in 10 months (12096 + 18240 + 1000). This may sound crazy, but i'm a real puzzlefreak. For anyone that doesn't believe it until they see it with their own eyes, email me and i can send you pics (nothing_changes@hotmail.com). I took a picture of the 12096 and 1000 piece puzzle when i completed them, and now with the 18240 piece one, i'm going all out. I have 18 picture of each quarter (Because it comes in 4 separate bags, one bag contains 4560 pieces), in various states of comletement, and at the end of next month i will have a picture of the completed 18240 piece puzzle. so with this puzzle, if you flip through all the pictures, you can slowly see it evolving from 1 piece, to a completed 18240 pieces. The only shame is that i currently don't have the room to glue the NYC skyline and the tropical impressions puzzle, so i number every piece on the back using a pen, and then take them apart and put them back in the box. If i glue them in a couple of years i just have to sort out the numbers and put them together.

Greeting from belgium,

 Maarten.

NYC Ravensburger puzzle

Would you be willing to sell the Ravensburger 12,000 pice puzzle you put together? I have been looking for this puzzle for YEARS! Many thanks for considering this and I will pay any asking price.

Ravensburger NY 12,000 pc puzzle

I was doing some research on this puzzle and ran across your post to asking if someone was willing to sell his puzzle. Are you still looking for it?

I happen to have the Ravensburger 178315 12,000 pc New York puzzle and I am trying to sell it. It is NIB with the shrink wrap intact. Are you still looking to purchase it? I have it posted on Craigslist right now for $200 and was told by another collector that she paid much more for one that had already been put together (current new Ravensburger 12,000 pc puzzles are going for $130), but if you want to make me an offer, I will consider it. You would have to pay for shipping if necessary. I can send you a pic if you need it, but is sounds like you are familiar with the puzzle.

I’m not a scammer or spammer – just having some tough financial luck and am trying to sell some of my collectibles and stuff that is taking up space. If you are interested in the puzzle I can send you some info on me so that you can check me out. I know there are too many scammers out there, and I am not one of them.

Thanks!

I talked to a couple people

I talked to a couple people who said suggested it is worth more than I am asking, so I'm putting it on Ebay.

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18000 tropical impressions

can anyone please help.  I have completed the top right hand quarter and the top left hand quarter of this puzzle only to find that one quarter does not fit with the other.  Is anyone having similar problems?  If you own this puzzle can you please tell me what the four bag reference numbers you puzzle has. 
I have complained to Ravensburger but they can only offer to replace the puzzle.
Please help me if you can as I have spent 150 hours so far and I am now very frustrated. See my web site
looking forward to hearing form you

reply to andrew

hi andrew, i completed the 18k tropical impressions last year.  i remember spending a lot of time on the green border.  but i always open all the bags & mix all the pc before i start, so it is truely an 18k puzzle for me, not just 4 smaller ones.  i finished the world maps & st columbia altar & the 2 13,200 clementori ones & many many others over the past 30 years. 

the green pc were difficult because there were so many pc the same shape, but in the end i got it together properly with no duplicates or missing pc.  when i get to a large area with all the same color pc, i will try to find a completed section with the same repetitive pattern of pc.  all the large puzzles repeat sections & u can often tell the border within the puzzle because of slight color differences (there were slightly different shades of green in tropical impressions) or one row of pc might be slightly wider or narrower than the neighboring pc (i believe this helped me w/ the altar of st columbia).

  anyway,  take another look at the right & left borders & keep trying different combinations, wish i were there to help!!

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