The Ultimate Money Puzzle

September 28, 2012 12:28 by rob

When most puzzlers complete a jigsaw, it is just a measure of personal satisfaction that awaits them. For John Ackerman, there was undoubtedly an immense personal satisfaction, but also $500 for a close friend!

This was no ordinary jigsaw puzzle that John worked on. No, what he faced was in a league above even the most daunting of jigsaw puzzles.

A close friend had inadvertently dropped five $100 bills through a paper shredder and called John in tears over the apparently hopeless loss. As John put it, “Five hundred bucks is 500 bucks, no matter how you look at it."

Even when you’re looking at it as a baggie full of an estimated 3,000 shredded pieces, but it certainly won’t spend like that!

(Photo Source: John Ackerman / Tom Pfingsten)


John, an 86-year-old avid puzzler, offered to tackle the case. As long as the serial numbers and seals could be accounted for, he figured the Federal Reserve Bank would replace them with brand new bills. He took the bag of woeful monetary confetti out to his workshop and over the next two months took on the massive project. A magnifying glass and a pair of needle nosed pliers were crucial to the task as he separated the pieces, lining the matching strips up as he found them. Since these weren’t the convenient interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, he used a combination of straight pins and tape to keep his progress in place.


By the end, he’d assembled five Benjamins from the mess and was only missing a few end and corner pieces. It was a result to be proud of, but the real test came when his friend took the shredded bills to bank. After an examination, and employees excitedly gathering to see and photograph the puzzled masterpieces, the bank presented the fortunate friend of one talented jigsaw puzzler with crisp, spendable $100 bills.

(Photo Source: John Ackerman / Tom Pfingsten)

Disaster averted. (Find the original story by Tom Pfingsten, here)


Here at Serious Shops, we see some pretty intense jigsaw puzzles; there are ones without edge pieces, formidably blank puzzles like the Silver Krypt

(Silver Krypt, 654pc Jigsaw Puzzle by Ravensburger)

And even puzzles where the unassembled pieces resemble a pile of shredded bills

(Million Dollars, 1,000pc Jigsaw Puzzle by White Mountain)

But I’m pretty sure none of those compare to the feat John accomplished.

So with a very serious tip of my very serious hat, I salute one of the best puzzlers I’ve ever heard of, this one’s for you Mr. Ackerman!