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Set of ball puzzles - Pirate Island Puzzlers

Pirate Island Puzzlers

  • Object:

    Set of ball puzzles

  • Place of origin:

    China (manufactured)
    Netherlands (probably, designed)

  • Date:

    2015 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Authentic Models Inc. (manufacturers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Printed card, glass, stainless steel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Catherine Howell

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Boxed set of three puzzles. The box has a hinged lid which is printed on its top with an illustration of two stereotypical pirates standing on a small desert island with a recently dug-up treasure chest. The chest is filled with gold coins, and with ball puzzle games, two of which are being played with by the pirates. In the background is a fully-rigged ship on a choppy sea. On the bottom is a map-like illustration showing sea, land and ships. Inside the lid is printed a large cutaway illustration of a pirate ship, demonstrating its usual features. The three puzzles fit into a large rectangular section and two smaller square sections in the base of the box. They are removed by pushing upwards from below through a circular hole.

The puzzles are all of printed card, with glass fronts, and numerous stainless steel balls inside which must be brought to rest in circular depressions. The largest of the puzzles is named 'Cocoa Isle', it shows an iusland with labelled features such as 'Slippery Swamp' and 'Jolly Jungle'. The first of the smaller puzzles is a large compass, with sea creatures (various fish, squid and a lobster) shown around the edges. The last puzzle shows a '16th century pirate galleon'.

Place of Origin

China (manufactured)
Netherlands (probably, designed)


2015 (manufactured)


Authentic Models Inc. (manufacturers)

Materials and Techniques

Printed card, glass, stainless steel


Length: 16 cm box, Width: 16 cm box, Depth: 2.4 cm box, Length: 7.5 cm Cocoa Island puzzle, Width: 15.4 cm Cocoa Island puzzle, Depth: 2 cm Cocoa Island puzzle, Length: 7.4 cm Two smaller puzzles, Width: 7.4 cm Two smaller puzzles, Depth: 2 cm Two smaller puzzles

Object history note

The donor purchased this object in the shop of the USS Constellation, a museum ship located in the harbour of Baltimore, Maryland. It was given to the Museum in 2017 [2017/302].

Historical context note

Ball-in-a-maze games are dexterity puzzles and have been popular since at least the 1880s, when American toy inventor Charles Martin Crandall (1833-1905) patented Pigs in Clover. They take many forms, from labyrinthine concentric rings, to open, flat games with circular target goals, to advanced three-dimensional puzzles. Many follow themes which reflected contemporary entertainment, attitudes and news, particularly in early examples.

Most pirate stories since Robert Louis Stevenson’s influential adventure novel Treasure Island (1882) have involved a search for treasure, buried or otherwise, using a detailed map. Finding treasure has become one of the most common and obvious elements for pirates in children’s culture.

Descriptive line

'Pirate Island Puzzlers' set of three ball puzzles, Authentic Models Inc., made in China, about 2015


Paper; Glass; Stainless steel



Subjects depicted

Mice; Maps; Compasses; Islands; Pirates; Galleons; Mermaids; Dolphins; Fish


Games (puzzles & board games)

Production Type

Mass produced


Museum of Childhood

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