This page is a catch-all for puzzles that aren't easily classified elsewhere and yet I believe warrant their own categories, and for classes of puzzles on the perimeter of my focus.
This page also contains sections devoted to some special topics, which may refer to various puzzles but shouldn't be considered to be the primary listing for those puzzles - for example, sections on Puzzles from the World's Fairs, Ancient Puzzles, the IPP Design Competition, and Compendiums.
These are puzzles that rely on magnets either to stay together or
as part of their mechanism.
(I am excluding hidden-mechanism types using a magnet to hold a pin in place.)
Conundrums, Enigmas, Posers, Riddles, Quandaries, Rebuses, Catches, Brain-Teasers...
Stickman Chopstick Box (#13, Second Edition) by Robert Yarger
Purchased from Cubicdissection.
Beautifully made from paduak and bloodwood, with maple inlays.
Seven moves are required to release the two chopsticks, which are themselves beautifully inlaid.
Magnetic Bumper Cars -
Popular Playthings / Huntar Co. Inc. 2006
from Popular Playthings.
is a series of tori with mathematical symbols along their peripheries.
Arrange them so that all equations are true. I wrote a computer program to solve DigiDisc.
The Magnetic Puzzle Ball from Executive Minds
contains a central sphere - each piece has a stem ending in a magnet that attaches to the sphere.
The magnetic globe is a spherical jigsaw.
is like a Soma (though not the same set of pieces), but each piece has a few magnets which constrain the solution.
The Tricky Triangle
requires you to position some spheres containing magnets so that they will not mutually repel.
The pieces of the Blue Cube mate a certain way via magnets.
Bits and Pieces also offers an aluminum version called "Iso-Crate" by R.D. Rose.
The object of Bumper Balls is to get the 3 balls separated
OctaCube - 8 sub-cubes attach to a central frame. Arrange the colors per rules.
There is also a black non-magnetic version.
5411262 - Smith 1995
Classic Games Co.
24 pieces - form a cube such that on the surface same colors don't touch
(Saw one for sale here.)
Mind Madness Ball
similar to the gray-toned ball above, but larger
Balance of Power
A dexterity puzzle or a game - the blocks have detents at various positions.
Arrange the blocks in an attempt to place the magnetic marbles in the detents such that they remain stable.
Score higher for using more closely spaced detents.
The detent arrangement shown has maximal spacing.
by Chris Morgan
Pack the 28 magnetic spheres flat in the rectangle
Mattel Force Field
Geometrix The Hexagon - Reiss
Style 415 1980
See U.S. Design Patent
awarded to Daniel R. Oakley in Sept. 2005.
Eight aluminum pieces with embedded magnets.
Not difficult, but a child will be challenged.
Based on the logo, this seems to be a promo item for the
Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters.
The Magic 16 ball by Idea Ocean, and the Tetrix Ball Twins from Mefferts.
King Tut Magic Mummy
Get the Mummy to stay in the Sarcophagus (or hop out)
2458970 - Wilson 1949
This is "Pack It In" from B&P, designed by Simon Nightingale - it is a one-cube packing puzzle!
The cube and box contain hidden magnets and a mechanism that
prevents the cube from seating in the container until it is properly oriented
and deliberately inserted.
I include this puzzle here rather than in the "Packing" category since
the magnets are integral to its operation.
Here is a really nice version of Nightingale's One Piece Packing Puzzle, made by Eric Fuller in 2008.
by KO Sticks LLC
Produced with support
Museum of Mathematics
I decided to purchase one of John Devost's HexTwist Five Intersecting Tetrahedrons puzzles - it is a geometric artwork, a real dexterity assembly challenge, and a great example of John's woodturning skills - each rod is lathe-turned to have a special twisting shape. The rods are made from exotic woods, including:
Purpleheart, Bloodwood, Redheart, Bubinga, and Lacewood. They are held together by magnetic tips and chrome balls.
This puzzle has also been known as the "Poor Man's Merkaba" or PMM.
Escher-themed Magnetic Cylinder Puzzle
designed and exchanged at IPP32 by Chris Morgan, made by Chris Morgan and Saul Bobroff
a gift for IPP32 committee members.
- there are many
puzzles in the wider world beyond mechanical puzzles.
I have added this section on
so that I can document several
puzzles that, while only occasionally presented as mechanical puzzles with physical pieces,
have nevertheless provided some entertainment to me and my friends.
Many books over the decades have compiled logic puzzles.
Among the most noted puzzle chroniclers of the Nineteenth Century are
Henry Ernest Dudeney
(Amusements in Mathematics
(pen-name of the Reverend Angelo John Lewis, 1839-1919)
(Puzzles Old and New
Walter William Rouse Ball
(Mathematical Recreations and Essays
and the American
(Cyclopedia of 5000 Puzzles
Modern chroniclers include
download and print some of Ivan's puzzles
Modern audiences still have a taste for logic puzzles, as evidenced by the current popularity of
Online resources include:
Gridworks - Thinkfun
Chocolate Fix - Thinkfun
The Mensa "Challenge Your IQ Pack" contains several logic challenges.
The classic game of logical deduction Clue has been simplified and turned into a solitaire puzzle game
called Clue Suspects.
Given six rooms, a body, up to 11 suspects, and a challenge card providing a set of clues, deduce who must be in the
room with the body, and therefore be the murderer.
Use given clues to deduce where to place colored chips.
An old game show called
"Let's Make A Deal"
was hosted by Monty Hall.
A contestant was allowed to choose one of three curtains.
Behind one of the curtains was a valuable prize, while behind the other two lurked booby prizes.
After the contestant made a first choice, the host would reveal a booby prize behind one of the unchosen curtains,
and then give
the contestant a chance to stick with their first choice, or switch to the other curtain not yet revealed,
"where Carol Merrill is now standing."
Either way, the contestant's final choice was then revealed, to either applause or laughter.
The puzzle asks, "Which is the better strategy for the contestant: always stick with one's first choice,
or always switch?"
This question caused quite a stir in the press when it was answered by Marilyn vos Savant, a noted
Educated people wrote in to vehemently disagree with her answer, though it was correct.
I believe the correct strategy is easy to deduce - look at the two tables below.
In each table, I show the outcome of one of the two strategies, based on all the combinations of
where the prize is versus the contestant's first choice.
Remember, it is always possible for the host to show a booby prize behind one of the unchosen curtains.
Probability of WIN = 3/9 = 1/3.
You stubbornly stick with your first choice no matter what the host reveals,
so you win only when you picked the correct curtain on your first choice.
Obviously your chances are 1 in 3.
|Your 1st Choice
||Shows: 2 or 3
You stick with 1
You stick with 2
You stick with 3
Probability of WIN = 6/9 = 2/3.
This is the better strategy.
You lose only when you picked the correct curtain on your first choice.
The host kindly eliminates one of the booby prizes for you,
and by switching you end up winning 2 out of 3 times.
This is counter-intuitive enough to make people want to argue about its validity.
|Your 1st Choice
||Shows: 2 or 3
You Switch from 1
You Switch 2 to 1
You Switch 3 to 1
You can pretend to be a contestant
The website tracks win/lose statistics, and they correlate well with the expectations noted above.
also discusses the Monty Hall problem.
A friend told me this logic puzzle question was posed during a job interview.
You are given two 60-second fuses, and a lighter.
Using only this equipment, time 45 seconds exactly.
You cannot assume that the fuses burn at a steady rate throughout their lengths,
only that they will each be completely consumed in exactly 60 seconds.
You cannot cut the fuses - it would do you no good anyway,
since by the previous statement there is no dependable correlation between any partial length and time.
Mouseover the box below to see the answer:
Here is Dickinson's Witch Hazel Parking Puzzle
a vintage advertising card posing a logic problem.
Five different cars must be arranged in a five-space garage,
from left to right according to a given set of constraints.
Here is a logical method of solving the Dickinson's Witch Hazel Parking Puzzle:
There are 120 ways to arrange the cars in the garage - you could put any of the
five cars on the left, then any of the remaining four to its right,
any of the remaining three to the right of that, etc -
this gives 5x4x3x2x1 = 5! = 120 possible arrangements.
However, the given conditions will preclude all but one of those arrangements.
Can we deduce the proper arrangement without checking all 120 possibilities?
Each of the five cars must have something to both its left and its right -
either a wall (if it is on an end), or one of the other four cars.
Symbolize the Ford, Chevy, Plymouth, Packard, and Buick using the letters
FCLAB, respectively, and an end using E.
Let's also state some assumptions about what is meant by LEFT and RIGHT,
since the card doesn't explicitly
define the terms - we'll park the cars facing INTO the garage, and we'll look at the puzzle from the view
shown on the card - INTO the bays. So the LEFT side of the card corresponds to the LEFT side of a car, and
the RIGHT side of the card corresponds to the RIGHT side of a car.
Construct the following chart:
Car on its LEFT on its RIGHT
F EFCLAB EFCLAB
C EFCLAB EFCLAB
L EFCLAB EFCLAB
A EFCLAB EFCLAB
B EFCLAB EFCLAB
At the outset, we don't know what is to the left or right of each car.
However, right away we can eliminate from each car's left and right lists that
car itself (unlike people, cars cannot be "beside themselves" :-)
Car on its LEFT on its RIGHT
F E.CLAB E.CLAB
C EF.LAB EF.LAB
L EFC.AB EFC.AB
A EFCL.B EFCL.B
B EFCLA. EFCLA.
Now consider the first constraint, which gives us two facts
1. B and F cannot be neighbors, and
2. B and C cannot be neighbors.
Eliminate the appropriate entries from the chart, replacing them with the numbers 1 and 2:
Car on its LEFT on its RIGHT
F E.CLA1 E.CLA1
C EF.LA2 EF.LA2
L EFC.AB EFC.AB
A EFCL.B EFCL.B
B E12LA. E12LA.
Next, consider the second constraint, which again gives us two facts
3. L and C cannot be neighbors, and
4. L and A cannot be neighbors.
Car on its LEFT on its RIGHT
F E.CLA1 E.CLA1
C EF.3A2 EF.3A2
L EF3.4B EF3.4B
A EFC4.B EFC4.B
B E12LA. E12LA.
The third constraint tells us
5. A and F cannot be neighbors
6. A and C cannot be neighbors
Car on its LEFT on its RIGHT
F E.CL51 E.CL51
C EF.362 EF.362
L EF3.4B EF3.4B
A E564.B E564.B
B E12LA. E12LA.
Apply the last constraint, 7 - eliminate L from the LEFT list of F:
Car on its LEFT on its RIGHT
F E.C751 E.CL51
C EF.362 EF.362
L EF3.4B EF3.4B
A E564.B E564.B
B E12LA. E12LA.
We'll use this final chart to solve the puzzle...
Now we have to put the remaining possibilities together.
Consider the Chevy - row C.
On its left must be an end or the Ford, AND on its right must be an end or the Ford.
So, it HAS to be on an end, and the Ford must be next to it.
Therefore the arrangement looks like either:
Put this together with the info we have for the Ford - row F.
On its LEFT can be an end or the Chevy.
CFxxx satisfies this, but xxxFC does not, so we can discard xxxFC
Now we can drive
to a solution pretty quickly...
What can be to the RIGHT of the Ford?
Its list says E.CL51 - an end (impossible), the Chevy (impossible),
leaving us with the Plymouth, giving CFLxx
What can be to the RIGHT of L? EF3.4B tells us it must be the Buick, giving
, and the Packard must be on the right end
(which is consistent with what the A row tells us - it has an end on one side and the Buick on the other).
Our final arrangement is CFLBA
Vanish Puzzles and Geometric Paradoxes
A Vanish Puzzle
is a cleverly concocted illustration or geometric arrangement,
showing a number of objects or a specific area and comprising pieces that,
when rearranged, result in a seeming change in the number of objects or size of area depicted.
According to G. Frederickson in Dissections: Plane & Fancy
the first example of vanishing area puzzles was reported in the book Libro d'Architettura Primo
Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1554).
(Google books link
The first description and mathematical explanation of the vanish paradox was found in a math puzzle book titled
Rational Recreations: In which the Principles of Numbers and Natural Philosophy are Clearly and Copiously Elucidated,
by a Series of Easy, Entertaining, Interesting Experiments. Among which are All Those Commonly Performed with the Cards
by William Hooper 1774.
(Google books link
According to Professor Douglas Rogers,
Hooper may have copied the puzzle from the book
Nouvelles récréations physiques et mathématiques
(Google books link
by the French author Edmé Gilles Guyot (1770).
Martin Gardner discusses vanish puzzles in his 1958 book Mathematics, Magic and Mystery
chapters 7 and 8, and also
in Wheels, Life, and Other Mathematical Amusements
in chapter 12 "Advertising Premiums."
Martin Gardner calls it "the principle of concealed distribution."
There is an informative article by Mel Stover in the November 1980 issue of Games magazine.
L'Echiquier Fantastique is a French version of the geometric vanish Gardner called
The area of the figure seems to vary depending on how the pieces are arranged - as a square, the area is 8x8=64,
but as a rectangle the area is 5x13=65.
The pieces can also be put together so that the apparent area is only 63.
The wooden pieces are actually very useful in showing the fallacy involved.
Jerry Slocum collection at the Lilly Library
contains a few examples of vanish puzzles.
, the premier American Puzzlist of the 19th century, created a series of vanish puzzles, now classics,
including Get Off the Earth
In one position, there are 13 Chinamen. Move the knob to rotate the inner disk, and one vanishes - now there are twelve!
Patented and Copyrighted 1896 by Sam Loyd
My copy was published as an art supplement to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday July 12th 1898.
Gardner informs us that more than 10 million copies were sold during Loyd's lifetime.
Click the image to make a Chinaman vanish!
Shown next is a 100th anniversary commemorative edition of Get Off the Earth.
Sam Loyd re-used this puzzle device in "The Lost Jap" and "Teddy and the Lions" (neither of which I have).
These are discussed in Slocum and Botermans' "Puzzles Old & New" on page 144.
You can buy copies of Sam Loyd's vanish puzzles, and try them online
A modern version of Sam Loyd's classic Get Off the Earth vanish puzzle.
The magician Theodore L. DeLand, Jr.
(1873-1931) copyrighted a version of the vanish puzzle in 1907.
It was printed in various forms, including "La Mysterieuse" (which I do not have).
Gardner calls this the DeLand Paradox
The Vanishing Leprechaun
is another classic.
It was designed by Ms. Pat (Patterson) Lyons circa 1968 and is related to the DeLand Paradox.
Cut the card into three pieces - a long strip on the bottom,
and the top into two sections.
If you exchange the positions of the two top sections, there are 15 instead of 14 leprechauns.
There is an explanation of the Vanishing Leprechaun
at this site
This is The Magic Egg Puzzle
, copyright 1880 by Wemple & Company, New York.
The card should be cut into four pieces along specific lines.
The pieces can be rearranged in a rectangle so that 8, 9, or 10 eggs appear.
The directions, however, also suggest that it is possible to arrange the pieces so that 6, 7, 11, or 12 eggs are shown.
Try the Magic Egg Puzzle on-line (requires Shockwave plug-in).
That site also has
of how these puzzles work.
It also mentions a criminal use of the vanish:
"The principle is very old and probably originated as a early method for counterfeiting money.
William Hooper in his book Rational Recreations, published in 1774,
described the paradox as 'Geometric Money.'
It is possible to cut 9 bills into eighteen parts
and then to rearrange them to make ten bills.
To foil this method, the two numbers on all U.S. currency are placed on opposite ends,
one high and one low. In this way, counterfeit bills using this method are easy to detect since their numbers
will not match correctly.
In fact, in 1968, a man in London was sentenced to eight years in prison for using this scheme on
British five-pound notes."
I think it is interesting how Pat Lyons came out with the Leprechauns in 1968! Coincidence?
Here is a modern variant of the vanish, called Who Turned to Doggie Doo?
by Robin Debreuil.
You can see it on John Rausch's site
at Debreuil's site
where you can
download a free printable version
(Note: on Debreuil's blog, he put this in the public domain.)
is a beautiful small folio of five different and multi-faceted dissection puzzles,
copyright 1939 by M. Grumette, and published by
Edu-K-Toy Institute, New York.
It's in great shape for its age.
Each page describing one of the puzzles is an envelope and encloses a card containing the corresponding
The puzzle pieces are on good stock punch-out cardboard - all of the pieces are present and intact, including the
I've tried to show a glimpse of each page/puzzle below.
- Join the 4 red tiles to form a square.
- Join the 4 red tiles and the black tile to form a square.
- Join the 4 red tiles and the shaded tile to form a rectangle.
- Join the 4 red tiles to form a lozenge.
The four pieces can be arranged to apparently show a total of 15, 16, or 17 black squares.
A classic geometric vanish.
- Form a square using the 3 red tiles, 3 black tiles, and the tile marked 6.
- Form a square using the 3 red tiles, 3 black tiles, and the tile marked 7.
- Combine the 4 red tiles and 4 black tiles to form a square.
- Use 3 of the red tiles, the shaded tile, and the 4 black tiles to form a square.
Form various silhouettes from the seven tiles.
Here are some examples of 3-D Geometric Vanish Puzzles, which are related to Packing Puzzles.
See my solution below.
Conway Packing Puzzle
A gift from Brett.
Eq. to HABA Trick-Pack.
Think Square - Pressman
There are 4 small right triangles, 4 large right triangles, 4 stair-case shaped pieces, and 5 small squares.
The pieces can be fit snugly into the tray with and without one of the five small squares.
Geometrex Set -
Ormazd, Nabucho, and Quirinus
In each case the pieces can be rearranged within the tray to fit in an extra square.
Rex Games Inc. San Francisco, copyright 2000 Sarcone & Waeber
Gianni Sarcone described this puzzle in issue 52 June 2000 of the CFF newsletter, where he called it the
Start with nine pieces packed in the frame, then add the tenth.
Gianni says "more than three solutions can be found."
Here is my solution to the HABA Trick-pack puzzle:
You can find many other examples of vanish puzzles on the web:
Paper and Card Picture Puzzles
Puzzles based on a picture can be printed on paper or card stock.
Some are to be cut up and arranged in a particular way.
Some call for you to find various figures in the pictures.
This is a French puzzle called Un Sage Dans Les Nuages - "A Sage in the Clouds."
Four rectangular cards depict various cloudscapes.
Arrange them so that the face of a wise old sage appears.
I don't think the face is very well-formed.
Shown in Slocum and Botermans' "New Book of Puzzles" (1992) on page 23.
Another French puzzle, called Les Quatre Vagabonds - The Four Vagabonds.
Arrange the four cards to form one complete figure.
Appears in Hoffmann as Chapter III No. XLI - The Man of Many Parts.
Hoffmann says it is of German origin.
L'Astronome - arrange the three pieces to form a five-pointed star, with an image of the astronomer.
Quelques Tours dans une Boite -
In addition to the loose versions of the above puzzles, I obtained this boxed set which
includes the four paper puzzles Les Quatre Vagabonds, Un Sage dans les Nuages, L'Astronome, and L'Incroyable
(a paper version of the geometric fallacy L'Echiquier Fantastique).
You can find an on-line version of this set
with links to cards you can print and cut out.
Something New and Novel
Look steadily at small diamond shaped speck on nose try not to blink and count to 50 slow, then look up at the sky day or night
or on a light wall and photograph will appear greatly enlarged.
Keep looking at one spot for 10 seconds. Result - The actual photograph will appear and disappear several times.
New! Startling! Amazing!
One classic, popularized by Sam Loyd, is seat the riders on (or saddle) the horses (or mules).
See U.S. Patent
2082943 - Dutcher 1937.
Cut out the three pieces and figure out how to arrange them to depict two
complete horses each bearing a rider facing the correct way.
This puzzle was used as an advertising premium for Dickinson's Witch Hazel - seat the witches on the cats:
One Dr. E. C. Abbey of Buffalo, NY, used a series of Toll Gate puzzle cards
to advertise a book called
"The Sexual System and Its Derangements" - "a moral book, for both sexes, clothed in plain and proper language."
I have Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4:
Find: a Queen, Lady, Traveller, Hostler, Clown, Boy, Baby, Gorilla, Monkey, 2 Donkeys, 2 Horses, Elephant,
Bear, Deer, 2 Rabbits, 2 Squirrels, 3 Frogs, 5 Dogs, Otter, 2 Turtles, 10 Faces, 29 Letters, Bird, Rat,
2 Fish, Owl, &c (That's what the card says, "&c" - I guess they got tired of listing the items!)
Find: a Bear, Buffalo, Camel, Giraffe, Seal, Swan, Squirrel, Cat, Fox, Pig, Rabbit, Parrot, 2 Alligators,
4 Birds, 2 Beavers, 2 Babies, 2 Boys, 5 Cows, 2 Chickens, 2 Deer, 12 Dogs, 3 Elephants, 3 Frogs, 3 Fish, 7 Faces,
2 Goats, 7 Horses, 10 Letters, 2 Mice, 4 Men, 2 Monkeys, 2 Owls, 3 Rats, 3 Sheep, 2 Turtles, 2 Ladies.
Find: an Elk (not Miss Anne Elk :-), Peacock, Shark, Butterfly, Lion, Tiger, Rabbit, Book, Coat, Boot, Hare,
Rake, Barrel, Caterpillar, Pigeon, Yard Stick, Snail, Match, Turtle, Owl, Rhino, Antelope, Watch, Skull,
Cat, Cow, Giraffe, Priest, Mummy, Humpty Dumpty, Squirrel, 5 Fishes, 2 Indians, 12 Faces, 3 Mice,
11 Dogs, 3 Eagles, 5 Letters, 5 Ducks, 2 Camels, 3 Elephants, 7 Men, 2 Monkeys, 2 Cymbals, 4 Birds, 4 Bears,
4 Goats, 8 Frogs, 2 Seals, 3 Beavers, 9 Sheep, 3 Ladies, 5 Horses, 5 Pigs, 2 Chickens, 4 Alligators,
2 Boys, 2 Babies, and 2 Combs. Whew!
The Truant Boys, a follow-up to the Toll Gate series, by the same Dr. Abbey:
Currier & Ives
issued a set of three puzzle-pictures -
the Old Swiss Mill
, the Puzzled Fox
, and the
Thanks to Gianni Sarcone for making me aware of these.
An advertising card for Brown's Bitters:
Why Don't He Sink?
Heat the card to find the answer...
If you have Slocum and Botermans' "New Book of Puzzles" (1992) you can find several paper-based puzzles...
- Milk p.15
- La Chaine Sans Fin (the Endless Chain) p.16-17
- Willard/Johnson Prizefight p.22
- Un Sage dans les Nuages (A Sage in the Clouds) p.23
- Who Broke the Bank p.29
- Nye Best Bread p.45
- Violin p.69
- Butter-Nut Bread p.71
- Aunt Jemima p.81
- The Jayne Fishing Puzzle (In "The Book of Ingenious and Diabolical Puzzles" on p.15)
Here are the "cube snakes" - unit cubes linked together so that they pivot in only certain ways,
and fold up into a cube shape, usually 3x3x3 but some 4x4x4.
In this group are:
I have all 5:
Purple, Orange, Red, Blue, Green
The Anaconda Cube
Magic Cube Snake
aka Kibble Cube
Charles Phillips' "Brain Box" comes with a small wooden cube snake and a booklet of brainteasers.
Another type of folding puzzle is the "plate" puzzle exemplified by Rubik's Magic.
A group of independent 2-sided grooved tiles, with embedded picture cards, are connected by a loop of strong fishing line.
The stringing pattern is complex, and permits the tiles to be folded around and onto each other in various ways.
The objective is to achieve a particular picture pattern and/or shape.
Take a look at
he has created many original folding plate puzzle designs!
Rubik's Magic - the original 8-tile, black verison.
Newer versions are red.
Read about Rubik's Magic at
Jurgen Koeller's site.
Rubik's Magic Master
Rubik's Magic Create the Cube
Simpsons novelty Rubik's Magic
Another novelty version picturing a scantily-clad woman.
Betcha Can't is a fairly rare version with hexagonal plates.
Magic Smile - Purchased at IPP28 in Prague, from Pantazis Houlis
also Mr. Twisty,
designed, made, and exchanged at IPP32 by Pantazis
I got this custom 4-tile magic from Juozas Granskas at IPP26.
Custom 8-tile Magic - Prague
Purchased at IPP28 in Prague, from Juozas Granskas
A custom 3-tile Magic, designed by Juozas Granskas.
There are three nicely-drawn whimsical characters, each divided across two tile surfaces.
The objective is to match the heads to the bodies so that all three characters are whole, simultaneously!
I really like this puzzle, and not just because I can solve it.
A gift from Jouzas at IPP 29 in SF - thanks!
This is the "Pick the Pickaninnies
" postcard puzzle,
patented June 4, 1907
- Lehman 1907
copyright 1907 by the Ullman Manufacturing Co. of New York.
This puzzle is representative of a time in the history of the United States during which what are today
unconscionable racist sentiments were part of everyday life.
I have a copy sporting a canceled one cent Ben Franklin stamp,
postmarked Feb. 4 1908 out of Philadelphia.
The puzzle consists of a single card with six flaps that will fold over a central rectangle.
One side of the central rectangle is the face of the postcard.
On its interior face is an advertisement for Harry H. Kurtz furniture of Philadelphia.
One flap depicts a black woman who is saying,
"Show me all dem eleben pickaninnies at one time. I don't want to see no white trash."
This flap also has eight holes and three black children's faces on it.
The other flaps have various patterns of holes and faces of black children and white children.
The objective as stated on the card is to
"Arrange the flaps, by placing one over another, in such a manner as to show only the eleven pickaninnies."
This style of puzzle has appeared in less offensive versions, for instance the face of Danny Kaye
was used to
advertise his film "The Inspector General" and a can of peas.
In that version only seven faces must appear.
Below is a version I made for you to cut out and try.
Make windows wherever it says "cut out" and remember to separate the side flaps.
Power Puzzles is a set of ten colorful folding puzzles made of heavy plasticized stock.
The designs are copyright by the Ivan-Concept Corporation (Ivan Moscovich),
and the set was distributed by Discovery Toys Inc.
Each puzzle is to be folded to achieve some specific pattern.
This is Fold A Decathlon of Mindbending Folding Puzzles,
by Ivan Moscovich, issued by the Fatbrain Toy Co.
It is a re-issue of the Power Puzzles set put out by Discovery Toys.
Fold the sheet to find the fifth pig...
Proper folding of the sheet produces a drawing of Hitler.
This style of puzzle has been used more recently to challenge you to "Find the Fifth Dinosaur" - Saddam Hussein.
Fold a camel.
The star-shaped sheet is printed on both sides and has a slit to the center cut along one radius.
See U.S. Patent
- Edborg 1943.
In this puzzle, you fold one way for a cow, another for a horse:
- Edborg 1943.
Other Folding Puzzles/Toys
A flexible array of shapes connected by tough plastic sheets.
Can be folded into a cube and other shapes.
Shinsei Twin Comets or Shinsei Mystery
Two units - either can be folded to make the first stellation of the rhombic dodecahedron, or a cube.
Each shape is hollow - the stellation will fit inside the cube.
This is a copy of
a version called the
Yoshimoto Cube that was first issued in Silver and Gold colors.
Invented by Naoki Yoshimoto in 1971.
Inca - small and large
This is Hex, issued back when Thinkfun was Binary Arts. Fold the chain loop into a hexagon so that
all arrows face the same direction.
A gift from Tom Jolly - I had an instruction sheet but no puzzle - thanks, Tom!
I've seen other versions of this on
A plastic folding-plate "puzzle" - make different shapes.
Rubik's Snake is not so much a puzzle as a plaything. Twist it into different shapes.
Here is a folding metal "puzzle" (more of a toy) known as "Heaven's Orb."
This design actually dates back at least to the Smith patent #
2031231 of Feb. 1936.
Happy Cubes by Adult Games.
also sold as "Crazee Diamond"
Linked blocks in the shape of a can.
See U.S. Patent
6637138 - Prost 2003
Identical to Happy Cubes by Adult Games - just blue.
Fold the eight linked blocks into various shapes, culminating in a cube.
Purchased from Torito.
Mag-Nif Curious Cubes 1982
The Starbix folding puzzle/toy, by Alan H. Schoen and issued by Bandai 1987.
Cubigami 7 from George Miller.
Designed by George Miller and Donald Knuth.
This is one of the few puzzles that stays on my desk - I find myself frequently picking it up and playing with it.
A clever arrangement of hinged squares in a flat sheet,
can be folded into each of the 3D tetra-cube shapes except for the 1x2x2 block.
Blue Cubigami from George Miller.
This version has four magnetic blocks and a plastic wrapping with embedded metal plates.
Arrange the four blocks into one of the tetracube shapes then find a way to wrap them.
This version allows the 1x2x2 shape to be wrapped since leaves of the wrapping can overlap.
A gift from George - thanks!
Der Umstulpbare Wurfel
(the Invertible Cube)
by Paul Schatz of Switzerland.
This is called "Block Chain" but it is a copy of
QRIN X by Takeyuki Endo
Two vintage folding puzzles from Binary Arts: GeoLoop and GeoMorph12
Mind Jewel, designed by Alexander Polonsky -
Betty's Baffling Bracelet - designed by Stuart Gee
Made by Brian Young
Exchanged at IPP27 by Marti Reis
Six octahedral pieces strung on an elastic band - fold them to create a self-supporting rhombic dodecahedron.
Unhinged by Thinkfun
Not So Strait of Dover by Scott Elliott
Kind of folding, kind of tangling - braid the strands using a classic "trick."
This is Ivan's Hinge, another design by Ivan Moscovich, also issued by the Fatbrain Toy Co.
Hopson Kinetic Prismatoy
Here one has to make a careful distinction between games and puzzles.
I believe all of these qualify as puzzles...
Ambiguous and Other Curious Objects
This is a classic - the Chinese Finger Trap. Insert an index finger into each end, then try to extract them!
The woven tube grips more the harder one pulls.
This is known as a Rattleback or a Celt.
Due to its peculiar cross-section, no matter whether it is initially spun clockwise or counterclockwise it always
ends up spinning in one direction.
This "Magic Ring" trick consists of a fairly long loop of chain and a metal ring.
Hold the chain in one hand and pass the chain through the ring.
Now drop the ring, and if you know the technique, the ring will "magically" knot itself onto the chain!
From James Dalgety - the Rabbiduck. Is this a Rabbit or a Duck? Don't answer until you click on the image...
The Rabbit/Duck ambiguous image was published by Joseph Jastrow in 1899 in Popular Science Monthly - he
discovered it in an 1892 Harper's Weekly, which had reprinted it from the German magazine Die Fliegende Blatter.
You can read an article on the Jastrow Illusion,
Joseph Jastrow and His Duck -- Or Is It a Rabbit?, by John F. Kihlstrom,
Bottom-filling Teapot and Fairness Cup set
Purchased at the
2011 New York Puzzle Party
hosted by Tom Cutrofello, in Manhattan at the
Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA).
MOCA was housing the
exhibition "Chinese Puzzles: Games for the Hands and Mind" curated by
Wei Zhang and Peter Rasmussen.
These are examples of Puzzle Vessels.
In the case of the teapot, it is filled through a hole in the middle of the bottom, yet when it is righted it does not leak, and pours tea upright as normally. The Fairness Cup, also known as a Greedy Cup, or Cup of Pythagoras, can be filled and used as normal, but if it is overfilled past a certain level, all the liquid will drain out through a hole in the bottom.
The puzzle is, how do they work?
This a modern example of a Chinese Magic Mirror.
When sunlight reflects off of its polished brass face (opposite to that shown) properly,
one can see an image of the IPP Burr puzzle logo.
The unique production technique was invented some 2000 years ago in China and entails more than ten complicated procedures. The reflective surface has extremely subtle warps.
The second photo captures the image projected by my copy.
Vintage promotional puzzle Which is Larger?
Fritz and Paul
A version of the "Which is Larger" optical puzzle
made in Germany
"New! Great! Amazing!
The droll Piccolos or the enigmatic twins
Wins every bet very amusing!"
D.R.G.M. Reg. i. a. K. - Staat
Franz Wieland, Berlin S. 59, Camphausenstr. 25.
A while back I received from
Scott Elliott (Thanks, Scott!), a copy of his Screwy Screw - an "impossible object" type puzzle where the objective is to figure
out "how did he do that?"
In this case, the two nuts spin on or off the bolt in opposite directions!
I.e., one spins clockwise to go on and the other spins counterclockwise to go on.
Scott discusses this puzzle on his blog,
A beautiful hand-turned Offset-Spinning-Top, made by Stephen Chin
The puzzle is, how was this lathed?
And, when it spins, it displays the intriguing effect of appearing to have independent disks hovering in air.
Promotional puzzle from IBM
What solid shape will fit through each hole,
completely filling the outline?
Appears in Wyatt's 1928 "Puzzles in Wood" as "The Wedge Plug Puzzle."
Also issued by Journet as "The Geometrical Puzzle."
Lenz's Law Demonstration
A moving magnetic field induces an electric current in a nearby conductor - this is called an eddy current. In turn, the induced current will create its own magnetic field that opposes the original magnetic field that created it.
One can demonstrate this using a simple copper tube and a strong magnet that will drop through the tube. The copper tube conducts but is non-magnetic. The magnet will drop through the tube, but much more slowly than a non-magnetic equivalent mass. It's not "sticking" to the tube - rather, Lenz's Law - the opposing magnetic fields - slows it down.
A gift from Brett - thanks!
This is an Illusionist Locket, made by
Jim Anderson (Illusion Lockets LLC of Idaho).
Jim figured out a way to realize the trick locket that appeared in the movie
various videos on YouTube...)
According to Jim:
"This locket transformed from an oval into a heart shape and opened to mysteriously reveal a picture.
There was no apparent way the locket could function in this way without tearing the picture in half."
The puzzle here is "How does it work?"
You might be able to find one on eBay.
(There are several makers, I think Jim's is of the highest quality.)
A bank containing a suspended cube. Where does the money go?
A bank within a bank.
An impossible nail in a donut.
An impossible Penny in a Bottle
Card-Folding Wizardry by Louis Coolen - a gift from
It was great meeting Allard and several other puzzlers at IPP32 for the first time in person.
I wish I had had more time to socialize.
Here are some patents to early impossible object puzzles:
Puzzles from the World's Fairs
There have been many
held since 1756.
I have included only a small number of the better-known Fairs in the table below.
Some puzzles are among the memorabilia available from the
Some of these items are shown on other pages,
but I thought it would be interesting to assemble them here, too.
The "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations"
"The Great Exhibition"
was based on an idea of Prince Albert's, was held in 1851 in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, and
was the first international exhibition of manufactured products.
The Crystal Palace is the icon of this fair.
I believe this vintage jigsaw puzzle is a souvenir.
It is 6" x 6" x 1/4" thick, and the lid is marked:
"The New Puzzle. Registered Industrial Exhibition - Registered According to Act of Parliament"
There is a label inside the lid, probably from a store:
"Rich d. S. Williams - No. 9 Back of Park Street - Bristol"
(Take a tour!)
Or, read a book about the expo.
A set of jigsaws (I don't have this).
This fair featured the Eiffel Tower, but I haven't run across any puzzles.
The World's Columbian Exposition
The 1893 Columbian Exposition, by all accounts, was a fantastic event.
The buildings were clad in white plaster and the grounds were known as the "White City."
Peter Nepstad has created a
text adventure game
that puts you at the Fair.
Download a demo.
The Devil in the White City
by Erik Larson.
There were several other puzzles sold in conjunction with the fair:
There were a series of "White City" trick-opening still banks put out by Nicol & Co. of Chicago.
See U.S. patent
528018 - Nicol 1894.
(I don't have any except as noted.)
No. 1 Barrel
(I have this one.)
No. 2 Pail
(I have this one.)
No. 3 Large Barrel
On the 3, 10, 12, and 326 banks,
the wingnut "key" was stored in a receptacle molded into the bottom and initially covered by a label.
The label warns salesmen not to reveal the secret of opening the safe until after the sale is made.
The Columbus' Egg Puzzle
See my Dexterity page.
The Ferris Wheel made its debut at the Fair.
There are at least two versions of this dexterity puzzle -
one called the Ferris Wheel, and the other called the "Firth Wheel."
The Firth Wheel background says "California Midwinter International Exposition."
(I don't have either.)
See U.S. Patent #
519989 Cassard, May 1894.
See my Dexterity page.
These lettered blocks might comprise a sliding-block type puzzle.
Columbian Exposition Picture Puzzles
An interlocking border with push-fit interior pieces.
The Stars and Crescent puzzle was stamped to commemorate the 1901 Pan American Expo in Buffalo NY.
I have this puzzle, but it's not stamped.
The Louisiana Purchase Exposition
St. Louis, Missouri
I have the Key, the Up-To-You, and the sliding piece puzzle. I don't have the Jug or the furniture jigsaw.
(b.1898 d.2005) actually attended the 1904 fair and compiled a seminal catalog listing scads of memorabilia from the fair.
I borrowed a copy from my library, but sadly it did not mention the Key,
nor any other puzzle beyond the Up-To-You glass dexterity puzzle.
Here is another interesting puzzle from the Expo - it's a pair of coins with slots in them.
I obtained a set including the strap!
I found a U.S. patent describing the puzzle and the method of [un]linking them with the strap:
748245 - Willey & Barton 1903
Panama-Pacific International Exposition
San Francisco, CA
Century of Progress
There were several puzzles associated with this fair.
The Scrambled Eggs puzzles came in different colors and levels of difficulty, as well as a smaller version called
I've found several.
There were several other 3D jigsaws, including a "Broken Heart" and a Sphere.
There was a Chinese-style building called the "Temple of Jihol" and a corresponding assembly puzzle.
I don't have this.
Boxed dexterity puzzles included the Skyride and the Havoline Thermometer, by James R. Irvin & Co.
I don't have these.
A series of "Tom Saw" jigsaw puzzles including Fort Dearborn, and the "Enchanted Island."
I don't have these.
There was also a very interesting pinball game which constructed a jigsaw as the player progressed.
One was offered at auction a while ago with a $3500 asking price but it did not sell.
I don't have this, but Jerry Slocum has one.
I don't have this.
An interesting 3D jigsaw puzzle fort.
I don't have this.
New York World's Fair
The Trylon Perisphere is the icon for this fair. A small interlocking puzzle of the Trylon Perisphere was issued
and became the forerunner of the keychain puzzle.
There was also a version in metal - I have the plastic version.
I have the Pageant of the States puzzle; I don't have the Furniture Jigsaw or Jig-O-Pin.
Century 21 Exposition
I don't have this.
New York World's Fair
(NOTE: Not sanctioned by the BIE.)
I don't have this.
Ancient Puzzles and Modern Puzzle Crazes
Here is a brief history of "ancient" puzzles, and of "modern" puzzle crazes.
What is the oldest mechanical puzzle?
We shall probably never really know -
after all, the object itself or a record of it would have to have been preserved, found, and accurately dated.
Only objects made of robust material, such as ceramics, are likely to have survived their trip down through the ages.
And even if an object were found, without some written or pictographic record of its intended use, we can only surmise
that it served the purpose of a mechanical puzzle.
That said, below are some candidates (all dates are, of course, approximate).
I have included some mathematical, logical, and
word puzzles, too.
(Jerry Slocum made several helpful comments in private correspondance.)
David Singmaster has undertaken a far more detailed
Chronology of Recreational Mathematics
- 20,000BC-9000BC -
Dominic Olivastro, in his book Ancient Puzzles suggests the
dating to either 9000BC or, based on newer dating techniques,
perhaps 20000BC is the oldest puzzle, but aside from its
puzzling markings it’s not a very satisfying candidate to me and is
more probably a calculation aid.
- 2500BC - Mohenjo-Daro "Pick-Me-Up" artifact
- 1900BC - Labyrinth of Pharaoh Amenemhet III
near Lake Moeris in Egypt
- 1700BC - Phoenician Puzzle Jugs in Cyprus - part of the Cesnola Collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York,
and the Moshe Dayan Collection in the Jerusalem Museum in Israel
- ca. 1650BC - Rhind Papyrus - includes a version of the "Road to St. Ives" mathematical puzzle.
- 1400BC - carvings made by workmen on the temple at Kurna (e.g. Morris board, Mill, Pentalpha)
- 650BC-400BC - Shu Ching Lo Shu 3x3 Magic Square
- 200BC - Loculus of Archimedes / Stomachion
- 1st Century A.D. - first 4x4 Magic Square, in India
- 1st Century A.D. - Word Squares in Pompeii
Translates as "Arepo, the sower, watches over his works."
- 800 - Alcuin of York - River Crossing Problems 17,18,19
- 900 - Abu Kamil - Book of Precious Things
- 983 - 5x5 and 6x6 Magic Squares
- 1202 - Fibonacci's Liber Abaci
- ca. 1500 - Tartaglia (Niccolo Fontana) - measuring wine 3,5,8->4/4
- 1500 - Patience Puzzle - Luca Pacioli De Viribus Quantitatus problem #107
- 1514 - Albrecht Durer - Melencolia I
- 1545 - first Geometric Vanish - Serlino Libro Primo d'Architettura
- 1557 - Alliance/Victoria tanglement puzzle - Cardano De Rerum Varietate
- 1624 - first Shilhouette Problems - van Etten Recreation Mathematique
- 1678 - Peg Solitaire - Leibniz
- 1689 - oldest reference to traditional six-piece burr
- 1690 - Hedge Maze at Hampton Court Palace, designed by George London and Henry Wise in 1689
- 1700 - 18th century - Rebuses ?
- 1725 - Ozanam - Cherries Puzzle, Solomon's Seal
- 1749 - Les Amusemens - first dissection of cross into Zs and Ls, Egyptian Puzzle
- 1760 - Spilsbury invents jigsaw
- 1848 - Bezzel proposes the Eight Queens Problem
- 1850s - Matchstick Puzzles
- 1857 - Icosian Puzzle (W. Hamilton) - tour the 12 vertices of an icosahedron, each once
- 1880 - Henry Luers patents first dissected checkerboard
- 1883 - French mathematician Edouard Lucas invents the Tower of Hanoi puzzle
- 1890s - Kumiki Puzzles invented by Tsunetaro Yamanaka
- 1892 - first edge-matching puzzle patented, by E.L. Thurston
- 1893 - MacMahon Colored Cubes
- 1900 - first "Instant Insanity"-type puzzle, The Katzenjammer Puzzle, patented by Frederick Schossow.
- 1903 - first dissected T
- 1913 - R. Journet patents Spoophem, the first centrifugal puzzle
- 1936 - Piet Hein invents the Soma Cube
- 1940 - Johnson patents two-piece dissection of tetrahedron
- 1970s - Stewart Coffin begins producing interlocking puzzles
- 1970s - Uwe Meffert invents Pyraminx
- 1974 - Erno Rubik invents Rubik's Cube
- 1975 - Greg Bright's hedge maze planted at Longleat House;
read an article about mazes;
Play NAVIGATI online.
See a timeline of games and puzzles here
Meffert hosts a timeline of puzzles written by Prof. David Joyner here
(focused on jigsaws).
history of mathematical games and recreations
Usenet rec.puzzles archive
See a large collection of images of word games here
See the MSN Encarta entry on Puzzles
defines "craze" as "a popular or widespread fad, fashion, etc.
and as a verb, "to cause to become mentally deranged or obsessed.
As can be seen from the history of ancient puzzles above, people through recorded history -
even workmen building the pyramids - have enjoyed puzzles.
Many puzzles have made it into the historic record - often recorded by and for an intellectual minority -
those who could read and write.
However, few puzzles seem to have created the kind of fervor
that causes masses of people to lose sleep and ignore their obligations, thereby instigating a full-fledged craze.
I believe it is not surprising that crazes seem to be a relatively modern phenomenon -
it is only recently that there exists a mass population with
sufficient leisure time to devote to "frivolous" pursuits,
manufacturing capability sufficient to produce enough
copies of a puzzle, transportation speedy enough to spread the puzzle widely within a relatively short period of time,
and communications media sophisticated enough
to report on the craze while it is occurring, often intensifying the craze by exposing more people to the puzzle.
Records must survive that document such widespread popularity and, hopefully, chronicle the craze.
Here are some puzzles for which records do exist - the exceptional manias are highlighted
and some lesser crazes are included, too:
- ca. 1640 - Anagrams -
King Louis XIII of France appoints a Royal Annagrammatist, Thomas Billon;
See the alt.anagrams FAQ here.
- 1697 - Peg Solitaire -
appears in an engraving of the Princess de Soubise, and was written about by Leibniz as early as 1678 (per Singmaster).
- 1780 - Catel's Cabinet established in Berlin
- 1815-1822 - Tangrams - enjoyed by Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allen Poe, Napoleon
- 1880 - The Gem (Fifteen, or Boss) Puzzle
- 1889 - Pigs in Clover - invented by Charles M. Crandall,
of Waverly, N.Y.
See article at U. of Waterloo / Avedon Museum.
- 1890 - Lemon's Everybody's Illustrated Book of Puzzles published
- 1892 - Rouse Ball's Mathematical Recreations and Essays published, revised by Coxeter in 1939
- 1893 - Hoffmann's Puzzles Old and New published
- 1895-1914 - Latin Squares - 9x9 by Mayniel appeared in La France on 7/6/1895
- 1907-1910 - First Jigsaw Craze
- 1914 - Sam Loyd's Cyclopedia of 5000 Puzzles published
- 1917 - Dudeney's Amusements in Mathematics published
- 1921 - MacMahon's New Mathematical Pastimes published
- 1924 - Crosswords -
First published by Arthur Wynne on 12/31/1913 in the New York World.
See it here.
In 1924, Simon & Schuster put out a collection and launched a craze.
Read the history of the crossword
- 1928 - Wyatt's Puzzles in Wood published
- 1932-1933 - Second Jigsaw Craze (Depression era)
- 1942 - Filipiak's 100 Puzzles - How to Make and Solve Them published
- 1946 - Wyatt's Wonders in Wood published
- 1965 - Solomon Golomb's Polyominoes published
- 1970s - Maze Books craze -
see Wikipedia article.
- 1978 - Creative Puzzles of the World published - no twisty puzzles yet!
- 1978 - the first IPP held
- 1979-1983 - Rubik's Cube - invented by Erno Rubik in 1974, patented 1977;
On cover of Scientific American in 1979
- 1987 - Slocum & Botermans' Puzzles Old and New published
- 1984-1988 - Maze craze in Japan -
Adrian Fisher article here.
- 1990 - Stewart Coffin's The Puzzling World of Polyhedral Dissections published
- 2004-present - SuDoKu - developed by Howard Garns and first published in 1979 by Dell Magazines.
Read some history here.
Wikipedia article here.
The IPP Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition
Since 2001, the IPP has held a design competition, now known as the Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition
You can see the
entries and results at John Rausch's site.
Throughout my website, you'll find many other puzzles that have appeared
in the Design Competition in recent years - below, I've gone through the entry lists and noted the puzzles I've acquired:
- Puzzlers Award: One Piece Packing Puzzle (Bits and Pieces repro "Pack It In") - Simon Nightingale
- First Prize: Arrow Case
Bits and Pieces "Packing Arrows") - Dai Nagata
- Honorable Mention: Sunflower (
available from George Miller) - Oskar van Deventer
- Honorable Mention: Apple - John Berkeley
- Honorable Mention: Walk of Ladybug - Tatuo Miyamoto
- Burr in Cube #1 - Jurg von Kaenel
- Hinomaru - Pavel Curtis
- Molecule Puzzle - Joe Miller
- Outline Burr - Karin von Kaenel
- Pencil Case (Binary Arts) - Dai Nagata
- Three Piece NOT - Frans de Vreugd
- Trinity (Bits and Pieces "Triple Decker") - Lynn D. Yarbrough
- Wun-Wa-Sure - Rocky Chiaro
- Grand Prize: Polo Shirt Case - Edi Nagata
- First Prize: Corner Cube - Lee Krasnow
- Honorable Mention: Gold-Silver-Bronze (aka "Chain" - Hanayama) - Oskar van Deventer
- Key Ring (Hanayama) - Oskar van Deventer
- Kinato (Ravensburger) - Lawrence Lau
- Literal Lateral Slide - William Waite
- Strip Tease - Maarten Vermaak
- Tetralott - Markus Goetz
- First Prize: Binary Burr - Bill Cutler
- First Prize: Six Key Mine
(Bits and Pieces repro "Einstein") - R.D. Rose
- Honorable Mention: Camera Conundrum - William Waite
- Cat Case - Edi Nagata
- Devil's Half Doven (Puzzlecraft) - Pavel Curtis
- Dodecahedron - Robert Rose
- Double Semi-Maze - Robert Rose
- Hexagon Kinato - Lawrence Lau
- Keyhole Puzzle - Rick Eason
- Lili (Davans) - Jose W. Diaz
- LiveCube - Min S. Shih
- Loris (Bits and Pieces repro "Corian Box" ??) - Dave Rossetti, Frank Chambers, Ken Stevens
- Pack 6 - Eric Fuller
- Salt and Pepper Shakers - Norman Sandfield, Robert Sandfield, Perry McDaniel
- Sandwich - Vaclav Obsivac
- St Mungo's Fish - James Dalgety
- Trapped Man - Tom Jolly
- Trickbox - Vaclav Obsivac
- Grand Prize and Puzzlers' Award: Dodecahedron Box - Kagen Schaefer
- Honorable Mention: Box with Key (Bits and Pieces repro "Secret Key Box") - Akio Kamei
- Honorable Mention: Red Spots - Ichiro Sengoku
- Amaze - Eldon Vaughn
- Button Trap - Vaclav Obsivac
- Cup Case - Edi Nagata
- Double Monad (Bits and Pieces) - Doug Engel
- Houses and Factories - Dick Hess
- Insoma - Brian Young
- Lucky Clover (Bits and Pieces) - Oskar van Deventer
- QRIN X - Takeyuki Endo
- Rightangular Jam - Hirokazu Iwasawa
- Space Rings (produced as Equa by Hanayama) - Oskar van Deventer
- Star Cluster - Karin von Kaenel
- Stickman No. 3 Puzzle Box - Robert Yarger
- Swissmad - Olivier Pahud
- Triangular Jam - Hirokazu Iwasawa
- Twisted's Sister (Mr. Puzzle Australia) - Brian Young
- Grand Prize: Radix (Hanayama) - Akio Yamamoto
- Honorable Mention: Edge Corner Cube II - Markus Götz
- Honorable Mention: Rectangular Jam - Hirokazu Iwasawa
- Dipole Dilemma - Chris Morgan
- Cubigami - George Miller and Donald Knuth
- Hide the Animal! (produced by Thinkfun as Cover Your Tracks) - Lixy Yamada
- Ying-Yang - Josef Pelikan and Ivan Mrkvica
- Sleazier - Pavel Curtis
- Stickman No. 5 Puzzle Box - Robert Yarger
- Puzzle of the Year (Puzzler's Award and Grand Prize): The Maze Burr - Kagen Schaeffer
- First Prize: Floppy Cube - Katsuhiko Okamoto
- Honorable Mention: Cover It Up - Robert Reid
- Honorable Mention: Sequential Star - Lee Krasnow
- Bump Cube (now Rubik's Mirror Blocks) by Hidetoshi Takeji
- Love Secret - Kirill Grebnev
- Snowflake - Robert Yarger
- Swiss and U.S. Cubes - Jurg von Kanel
- The Hill - Stewart Coffin
- Three Trapped Sages - Ramos and Abad
- Puzzlers' Award and Jury First Prize: Cast Loop - Vesa Timonen
- Jury Grand Prize: The Void Cube by Katsuhiko Okamoto
- Honorable Mention: Switched Maze by Kirill Grebnev
- Honorable Mention: Tornado Burr by Junichi Yananose
- The L-Bert Hall - designed by Ronald Kint-Bruynseels and made by Eric Fuller
- Baby Duck Case - Edi Nagata
- Digits in a Box - Eric Harshbarger
- Duodeciburr - Vaclav Obsivac
- Four Fit - Stewart Coffin
- Triangle Trio by William Waite
- Puzzler's Award and Jury Grand Prize, Puzzle of the Year: The ODD Puzzle by Hirokazu Iwasawa
- First Prize (3-way tie): The Irmo Box by Eric Fuller
- First Prize (3-way tie): Secret Base (Box) by Hiroshi Iwahara (was a Karakuri Club Christmas gift in 2007)
- First Prize (3-way tie): Tangerine by Vesa Timonen - mass-produced by Hanayama as the Globe Ball
- Asura by Akio Yamamoto - a metal version called Vortex is now offered by Hanayama as part of their CAST series.
- Crossroad by Goh Pit Khiam, made by Walter Hoppe
- Cube Puzzle - 3D printed by George Hart (I have prototype no. 1!)
- Cubedron - by Pantazis Houlis
- Easy Eight / Hard Eight - by Bob Hearn
- Elemental : Neon by David Litwin
- Gold Coast Parking Meter by Brian Young
- Handcuffs Puzzle - Teddy Sakamoto
- La Cerradura Doble - by Robrecht Louage
- Magic Smile by Pantazis Houlis
- Spade & Heart by Mineyuki Uyematsu
- Straight Forward by Brian Young
- Tease by Sam Cornwell
- V-Cube 7 by Panagiotis Verdes
- Zoo Panic by Tsugumitsu Noji
Honorable Mention: Confetto Box by Hiroshi Iwahara
- 5-Minute Puzzle That Might Take A Little Longer - designed by Andy Turner
- Barb's Cube by John Devost and Jose Diaz - I got a 3D printed version
- Bolaris - designed by Hannu Hjerppe
- Devil's Gate - designed by Ferdinand Lammertink and made by George Miller
- Dodek Duo - designed by Jerry Langin-Hooper
- Funny Cubes - designed by Tom Lensch
- Nine Bed Nightmare - designed by George Bell
- Tubular Burr - Derek Bosch
- First Prize: Four Direction Drawer - Hiroshi Iwahara
- Honorable Mention: Cast Rattle - Bram Cohen - issued by Hanayama
- Ambidextrous Hexduos - designed by Matt Dawson, made by Robert Yarger
- Black or White - designed by Tomas Linden and Vesa Timonen
- Cannibal Monsters - designed by Raf Peeters
- Latch Cube - designed by Katsuhiko Okamoto
- One Four All & All Four One - designed by Pantazis Houlis, Arcady Dyskin, Alexei Kanel-Belov, Elena Pasternak, Juri Estrin
- Qubami - designed by Kelvin Stott
- Titanic - designed by Raf Peeters
- Jury First Prize: MT5T - Mineyuki Uyematsu
- Jury First Prize: Superstrings - Richard Gain
- Jury Honorable Mention: House with Trees - Hiroshi Iwahara
- Jury Honorable Mention: T+3 - Hiroshi Yamamoto
- Ambigram Burr - Gregory Benedetti
- Ampelmann - Roman Götter
- Bishop Cubes - Forrest Bishop
- Curly Cube - Vladimir Krasnoukhov (I have the metal version.)
- Dino Cylinder - Li Chung Man (SmaZ)
- Dog Head - Diniar Namdarian
- Equal 7 - Vladimir Krasnoukhov
- Jury First Prize: Houdini's Torture Chamber - Brian Young
- 13 Triangles - Ed Pegg, Jr.
- BurrBlock - Jerry McFarland
- Gear Pyraminx - Oskar van Deventer (Meffert)
- Genie in the Bottle - Erhan Cubukcuoglu
- Little Window (Open Window) - Tom Jolly
- Multidodecahedron - Tom van der Zanden
- One Circle - Two Circles - Diniar Namdarian
- Perplexing Palace Puzzle - James Dalgety
- Puzzle in a Puzzle Box - Thomas Beutner
- Six Cushion Shot - Wayne Daniel
- TriTalon - Iwahiro
- Washington Skyline - William Waite
This boxed set contains a Soma cube, a Star, and a Cube Snake.
The "Aha Brainteaser Classics" set from Thinkfun contains a nice introductory survey of simple mechanical puzzles,
with hint cards.
Here is a nice history of some of the puzzles
included in this set.
This compendium is called "Mixed Up."
This compendium was made by Sherms of Bridgeport CT (the included instruction sheet clearly indicates so,
as do the several appearances of the leering devil),
but branded on the box lid by Kellogg's of Springfield MA (probably a department store).
Although the lid says "Wire Puzzles," the set
contains the Perigal 4-piece square, the classic T dissection, Loyd's buttonhole pencil, the 8-point puzzle,
a sitting Doggie puzzle, several metal tanglements, and a 14-piece checkerboard dissection called the "Checker Board Problem"
made from thick cardboard in blue and red
(Haubrich 14.14.3-5, pieces on page 165, listing on page 168 #11).
The instruction sheet says "This book of puzzles explains others besides those in your set."
It's not at all clear whether the current contents are the original contents.
The instructions sheet lists:
- Cover the Spot
- Doggie Puzzle
- Heart Puzzle
- The T Puzzle
- Triangle Puzzle
- Ring & Coil
- Horse Shoe
- Boo-Boogy Man Puzzle
- Nail Puzzle
- Pretzel Puzzle
- Knotted Rings Puzzle
- Two Twist Puzzle
- The Question Puzzle
- Spider Web Puzzle
- Pencil and Loop
This is the "Party Puzzle Box Supreme," a compendium of several puzzles,
from George E. Schweig & Son of Philadelphia PA.
The box is in poor shape, but it contains several interesting puzzles.
The box contains three trays / levels.
The first tray contains four sliding block puzzles in good shape:
Schweig's Trans-Atlantic Puzzle, The Flying Puzzle, The Traffic Jam Puzzle, and Ma's Puzzle.
(I bought this to obtain the Trans-Atlantic puzzle.)
The next tray contains eight hard wire tangles, some of which are incomplete, and a dexterity puzzle called
"Who Catches Us?"
The last layer contains the classic T dissection (missing one small part),
"The Wonder Puzzle" (a tangram variant, missing a block or two and a booklet),
a "Spoophem" type puzzle, six more tangles including Patience, and a six-piece burr,
the same "Puzzle of Puzzles" as in the "Tricks and Puzzles" compendium.
There is also an instruction sheet.
This set is called "Tricks and Puzzles for Young and Old" and I cannot find additional provenance info even on the instruction
One of the included tricks, however, called "Mystifying Mind Reading," is labeled No. 1 N 136 Copyright 1928 N. S. Co. Chicago.
Also, many of the individual item packages say "Made in Japan."
The set includes:
the aforementioned Mystifying Mind Reading trick, which contains six cards having pictures of 15 presidents;
a traditional six-piece burr puzzle called "The Puzzle of Puzzles" made in Japan (pieces 1, 154, 256x2, 1024x2),
four copies of the ring and clip hard wire tangle, two copies of a hard wire tangle similar to offset keys,
plate metal horseshoes, two copies of "No. X 2234 Coin or Disc Thru Hole," "The Magic Sex Indicator" (a plumb bob),
an "X-Ray" tube, a card trick (incomplete), and a sheet of instructions.
The instructions describe:
- Horse-Shoe Puzzle
- Nail Puzzle
- Chinese Puzzle
- Collegiate Matches
- Card Trick
- (two twists)
- (two clips)
- (twists with straight handles)
- Three RIngs Puzzle
- (offset keys var.)
- Key Puzzle
- (two Gs)
- (ring and clip)
- Mind Reading Card Trick
De Luxe Puzzle Set - issued by D. Robbins & Co. N.Y.C
A nice set of four classic brainteasers.
I picked up spares because the first 3 of these are popular items in my "puzzle go bag."
This vintage "De Luxe Puzzle Chest" No. 3006 from F.A.O. Schwartz
includes representatives from several categories.
Get 3 black balls on one end and 3 red on the other. A secret trick is involved.
a version of "Upsy Downsy" - get the ball up the ramp to the pinnacle
I'm not sure what might be missing, but the following items were also included:
- a few simple wire tanglements (most missing)
- Chinese Rings
- The Bashful Lock (I Will Open Behind Your Back)
- 6-piece Star
- Dipsy Ball (aka Moses' Cradle)
- Ball in Cage interlocking puzzle
- The 15 sliding puzzle (it fell apart)
- The 'T' Dissection
- Kumiki Cube
Makes me think about what I would put in my "Puzzle Compendium Box."
It seems like the items should all be both inexpensive and fairly compact,
do you go for the classic, the unusual, the historically important?
A survey across all the categories?
Will the selection be intended to win over neophytes, or stump connoisseurs?
What would you put in yours?
Virtual Mechanical Puzzle Compendium Box
to try various online simulations of mechanical puzzles.