Parcel Post is Jean Claude Constantin‘s version of a classic puzzle whose origins date back to the early 20th century. Its designer is unknown, but many craftsmen have made their own versions over the years. Constantin’s personal take on the puzzle is one of the best-looking ones out there by using a variety of wood colors, as he accustomed us in so many of his designs.
Comprised of 18 pieces, mostly with varied dimensions (only three pairs of pieces share the same dimensions), Parcel Post has all the ingredients to make it a very hard puzzle to solve. Indeed, I don’t remember having (trying) to solve such a difficult puzzle since Calibron 12 – That was one and a half year ago. The dimensions of the tray are a bit on the small size, measuring 10.2cm x 7.5cm (4″ x 3″), but with all these pieces and different wood colors it’s understandable to keep the price down.
If you’re not already intimidated by the puzzle, you should. This is one of those puzzles that’s virtually impossible to solve without a careful mathematical analysis or without software. Randomly packing the pieces by trial and error won’t get you anywhere, and looking at how the puzzle looks like when solved you get a pretty good idea of where I’m getting at. The solution is anything but intuitive. There are some pieces that need to be packed vertically and, also having to pack them in three layers doesn’t help either. Because the puzzle comes packaged in its solved state you get to have a peek at how the solution looks like, but if you really want a challenge, ask someone to take out the pieces for you.
This puzzle is classified as a level 8/10, but from my experience with these puzzles and minding all the above facts, I have to say, this is a level 10. Even though four solutions are currently known (courtesy of Bill Cutler), those weren’t discovered by trial and error. A computer analysis was needed to get to that conclusion. I guess I don’t need to tell you that, so far, I wasn’t able to solve this beast. I did managed to put it together, but not without the help of photographs of the various stages.
Unless you have a pretty good mathematical background, or you are a serious collector, I would advise to stay away from this one. It’s extremely difficult and only the most courageous of the puzzlers should tackle it.
Availability: Parcel Post is currently out of stock at PuzzleMaster, but you can still browse from many other interesting designs from Constantin.