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 Post subject: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:24 am 
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For many, many months I've been very intrigued by and interested in Japanese puzzle boxes. I don't own one just yet and was wondering if anyone on the forum knows anything about these beauties.

I am hesitant to buy without thorough research so I figured I'd come to the most knowledgeable place I know for puzzle collectible info.

I've had my eye on this beautiful box for a while now. It's one of those items I really want but am hesitant to dish out much money for. For that reason, I put it on my Christmas wishlist. Needless to say I didn't get it, forgot about it for a few months, and recently came back and started looking at it again. Does anyone have any advice, comments, suggestions, or stories or histories about these wonderful puzzles?

Attachment:
4 Sun 12 Step Kujakubishi Japanese Puzzle box.jpg
4 Sun 12 Step Kujakubishi Japanese Puzzle box.jpg [ 175.7 KiB | Viewed 1924 times ]


I will probably get one soon, they're just fantastic. Does anyone have any tips about what to look for and what not to look for in terms of quality and authenticity? By the way, that puzzle box is sold on this website: http://www.puzzleboxworld.com/

More specifically, the box pictured can be found here: http://www.puzzleboxworld.com/Medium%20 ... %20Box.htm

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:58 am 
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I have several such boxes, I adore them, they are wonderfully crafted wooden objects.
http://www.helm.lu/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=794
There are many different ones, those that please me most are the small ones
Image
designed by the Karakuri Creation Group. Each has a different opening mechanism.

Others are simply glorious in their look, like the ones by Hakone Izumiya.
Image
I bought many of them at DCD from Wil Strijbos who seemed to me an expert in this area.

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:09 am 
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Location: Oregon, USA
Just a general observation about puzzle boxes: if a box has been owned by someone other than an appreciative user then it might have been damaged or forced-open at some point in its history. You're probably safe buying from that dealer because they have a return policy, but don't buy a puzzle box on eBay until you really know what you're doing.

Be particularly careful buying puzzle boxes with kid-oriented themes. The Walt Disney Company commissioned a bunch of Disney-themed puzzle boxes fifty years ago. These have acquired a notorious reputation because so many of them had passed through the hands of frustrated children who pried them open by force.


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:19 am 
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From my knowledge, there are only a few people who actually make these since it is such detailed intricate work. The wood is cut and laid out using large pieces of wood and then thin slices are taken from the ends to form what attaches to the box (Like how sushi is made). I picked my box up from a puzzle store that was closing down in San Francisco, CA years ago. It is a 10 move solution puzzle box and a beauty. What size and move count were you looking at getting?

As for what to look for, I did a lot of reading on these in the past and found that not all of these are assembled well. It is often best to try out the box first if you get the chance. The buyers from the websites tend to sort through the more expensive ones themselves to be sure they are quality. I have learned that these boxes tend to be on the stiff side, so be careful if you have nails so you do not damage the wood. The weather and humidity affect how smooth your box works.

Here are some pictures of my box:

Attachment:
PIC-0010a.JPG
PIC-0010a.JPG [ 60.46 KiB | Viewed 1921 times ]


Attachment:
PIC-0011a.JPG
PIC-0011a.JPG [ 54 KiB | Viewed 1921 times ]


Attachment:
PIC-0012a.JPG
PIC-0012a.JPG [ 49.85 KiB | Viewed 1922 times ]


It took a small amount of time to figure out how to open it, but I enjoy the uniqueness of this puzzle. It has always been a great conversation piece as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:58 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2000 3:17 pm
Location: Hong Kong
Humidity plays a huge role in how well your box works. If you live in a place where your walls sweat, don't get one if you ever want to open it. I have a couple that just don't moove anymore. The weather has gotten to them.
So, Florida, Chicago, Hong Kong are out of the picture!

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:41 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 8:50 am
Location: chicago, IL area U.S.A
www.cleverwood.com has probably the best quality control for puzzle boxes, but you are going to pay for it. You must keep it in a temperature / humidity controlled environment if you want it to last a long time. Don't be like me and leave it in a box in the basement when it's raining 3 inches of rain an hour and you get a foot of water in the basement =)

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:00 am 
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My comment about Chicago had nothing to do with the rain. My dad lives about 6 hrs drive west of the area and hte humidity in summer is almost as high as HK is.

Humidity does serious damage to puzzle boxes and wooden floors!

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:51 pm 
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Location: chicago, IL area U.S.A
Actually the humidity in my basement in the summer is fine, it was the foot of water that flooded the box that ruined it. Even after thoroughly drying the box, it was all warped and pretty much useless.
They are quite beautiful though, the different colors are different pieces of wood and not stain or paint.

-d


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:36 pm 
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Thanks for the responses everyone. I live in NY and it can get pretty humid in the summers here, but I'll see what I can do about keeping it in a neutral environment. As for the size, in regards to NeoDarkHaven's question, I'm looking for something mid-sized, small but not too small. The one I pictured in the first post has caught my eye for several reasons: size, move count, and price (and of course, a simple yet beautiful design). It's a 4 sun, 12 step box, meaning 4.72 x 3.15 x 2.17 inches. How big is the one you have posted pictures of? I decided on it being 12 steps (I'm starting to consider that that may be too much) because it seemed enough to be interesting and intricate, but not so much as to be excessive (like the 24 step boxes!). As for the price, it sells for $57, yet I have little to compare that price to. Is that too much, too little? I want it to be of good quality but with a pricetag good for my budget, which isn't huge. Any comments?

Thanks

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:14 am 
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I have a couple of humidity boxes. They keep it constant. We use it for the deed to the house, old photos, film negatives, and yes a puzzle or two. They aren't too expensive...maybe a few hundred dollars each. But they are worth the money. You may want to look into that.

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:22 am 
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My puzzle box is a 4 sun as well and it is a nice size. I paid around $45 for mine on sale after tax, but the $57 you stated is about the going rate. I wanted the 12 step box over my 10 step, but it was more than I was willing to spend at the time. The 10 step one I have is a beautiful puzzle. As I said, it is fairly simple to solve once you learn the secret, but I never tire of it. 12 moves should be perfect as a casual item and as one that guests could figure out eventually. The higher ones would add to the challenge, and I hope to one day pick up a larger box with a much higher move count. I'm curious what extra curves they throw in those. If you want to see excessive, there are ones out there with over 100 moves and some with trick/false solutions :P

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese puzzle boxes
PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:06 am 
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Just to add -

Some boxes have gone in the thousands!!

Of course, many are rare, unique, and highly collectable.

Just to reference - previous auctions prices:

http://www.baxterweb.com/puzzleauction2/japan.htm

http://www.baxterweb.com/puzzles/ninomiya/index.htm

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