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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Ball Puzzle (Charles O. Perry)

Upon browsing the interweb a while ago I came across a website displaying several puzzles that I had not ever seen before, and they looked truly phenomenal! This website belongs to the sculptor, designer and architect Charles O. Perry.

Charles only ever made a very small number of puzzles before he sadly passed away earlier this year, and as such it is very rare to find any of them for sale. So imagine my surprise when I came across two of his designs available for sale at Puzzle Master!

This design is called The Ball Puzzle, which was designed by Charles O. Perry in 1967. This version is machined from solid brass with a 42mm measurement across, which gives it a really nice weight and feel, but if this isn't your kind of thing then it is also currently available in a Plexi Glass Version which measures 70mm across, both are originals by Charles O. Perry and as such are hand engraved with the name 'Perry'. The puzzle comes in a nice little drawstring bag with a printed label stating the puzzle's name and an image of the solution.

The puzzle itself is a modified version of a standard 6-piece diagonal burr, but the real treat with this puzzle is in the design and build quality. The rounded edges turn the well known 6-piece burr shape into something far more aesthetically pleasing and original, plus the locking piece is fitted with a sprung ball bearing that holds it in place, giving the puzzle a nice and solid solved state.
This is another of those puzzles that if you leave out on the dining room table people cannot help picking it up and asking what it is. It just has one of those shapes I guess.

As a puzzle it's not particularly difficult, although I say that knowing exactly how basic 6-piece burrs work, if you gave it to a non-puzzler then it can still be quite a challenge trying to hold it in the right places to assemble it.

Here's what the ball looks like disassembled into it's six pieces, note the solid central locking piece engraved with Perry's name:

I liked this puzzle so much that I also have the Plexi Glass version on the way to me, and I'll add some photos of that one when it arrives as a comparison.

EDIT: And here is a picture that shows a great comparison between the two different versions of this puzzle:

These puzzles are of such a good quality that they are already collector's items, so having one of each seems like the right thing to do. The only thing I am sad of is that I am unlikely to ever own any of Perry's other puzzle designs as they are so few and far between.

Both versions of The Ball Puzzle are currently available from Puzzle Master (Brass and Plexi Glass), and I can definitely say that you should consider adding one of these to your collection before they disappear and become as hard to find as Perry's other great puzzles.


  1. Have to agree. It's a great looking puzzle, and wonderfully made. The shape of the bottom two pieces with their curved pyramidal shape are just lovely. Happy to have this in my collection as well as it really is a nice puzzle.

  2. Very nice looking puzzle! "Standard 6-piece burr" is a bit too generic, I would say it is a modification of a "standard diagonal burr".

  3. Thanks for that George, that's a much more accurate description! I've edited the post for future clarification.

  4. Hi, Oli. Thanks again for your help on ID'ing the Steve Johnson puzzle in my collection. It turns out that I also have the same Charles O. Perry 'ball' puzzle that you recently bought. I've enjoyed it for years -- great puzzle!



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