The Tavern Puzzle Collection is produced by a family-owned business
operated by Dennis and Donna Sucilsky. Dennis is a museum-trained
blacksmith who creates beautiful, high-quality mechanical puzzles
made of mild steel, which is similar to iron. Some have wooden
beads as well. The object of these puzzles is to remove one piece
without using force or tricks. However, each puzzle is really two
puzzles in one; first you must remove the piece, and then you must
put it back together!
The Tavern Puzzle Collection includes original as well as historical
designs. Many are reproductions traditionally forged by blacksmiths
to amuse family and friends at country taverns and inns. The puzzles
are available in four levels of complexity: basic, intermediate,
difficult, and complex. Simpler puzzles require fewer steps, but
be forewarned--simple does not necessarily mean easy!
Tavern Puzzles are handcrafted in the United States and are individually
assembled. They will rust if stored under damp conditions, so keep
them dry or apply a little furniture polish for protection. They
will develop a beautiful patina through use and handling. Most
of the puzzles weigh about one pound and are packed in a drawstring
Solutions are not included, but illustrated print solutions are
available at the Tavern Puzzles website, and video solutions are
also available on YouTube. Accessories are available for storing
and displaying your puzzles. Puzzles may also be personalized for
an extra charge.
I reviewed four puzzles, one from each level of complexity. The
first was the Iron Heart from Group 1, a basic puzzle. These are
reproductions of antique designs with only a few steps. The Iron
Heart is a simple puzzle often made by blacksmiths' apprentices.
The object of this puzzle is to remove the heart. A few members
of our family were able to solve it immediately, but I confess
that I got frustrated and looked online at the solution after a
few minutes. Then I felt embarrassed that I hadn't been able to
solve it myself! This is a great beginner puzzle that would be
fun to bring out when you have company.
The next puzzle was Lyon's Loops, an intermediate puzzle from
Group 3. These puzzles are more complex and require multi-step
solutions. Lyon's Loops was named after a famous nineteenth-century
blacksmith, Patrick Lyon. The original is in a private collection
in Philadelphia. The object of this puzzle is to remove the large
ring. My puzzle lovers were able to solve this puzzle after about
half an hour of thinking and fiddling.
Next came the Dirty Dog. This is a difficult puzzle from Group
4. This group is also multi-step, but the moves are more interactive.
The object of this puzzle is to remove the shuttle. A mechanical
engineer friend sat and fiddled with it for several hours one day
while his family was visiting ours, and he finally managed to solve
it. My puzzle lovers are still working on this one.
The last puzzle was the Long Island Catch. This is a complex puzzle
from Group 7. The puzzles in this group require a lot of concentration
to master the large number of moves and handle the flexible chains.
The object of this puzzle is to remove the heavy ring. My puzzle
lovers got this one right away because they had done one just like
it several years ago. They like to demonstrate how it's done after
someone has made a good attempt at it.
My husband and daughter--my puzzle lovers--are so excited about
these puzzles! They like that the puzzles do not come with the
solutions, so no one can be tempted to peek before he has a good
try. But they also appreciate that solutions are available. My
husband is very impressed with the high-quality workmanship of
these puzzles and just keeps raving about them. He is not a man
who is easily impressed, so I offer these remarks as the highest
praise for Tavern Puzzles.