Jean Claude Constantin has made quite some interesting trick boxes before, of which I own several in my ever-growing collection. However, the 20 Cent Box tops all of the previous ones, at least the ones I tried. The trick involved to solve this puzzle is so clever it requires some serious thinking outside the box. Be prepared for some cursing and a lot of frustration.
The box is quite small, which is a shame, but it won’t hinder your experience. It’s made with two shades of wood, the lighter one plywood, and comes with a small key. There’s a keyhole at the front side but no locking mechanism – Just a hole. At the top there’s a slot large enough for a coin to pass through and a small window to peer through. There’s also a very small hole at the edge of the top side, which looks intriguing enough, since there’s not much you can do with it. All the remaining sides of the box don’t have any important features worth mentioning, except for the bottom side, which looks like it could be removed, but there’s not a single clue as to how…
The goal of the 20 Cent Box looks simple enough, but after taking a good look at it, you will probably start doubting it, like I did too. On the site, it’s clearly stated as the object of the puzzle to “open the box”. However, the description gives room for other interpretations as well. It’s also said to solve the puzzle to “retrieve the coin”. Is it possible to retrieve the coin without opening the box? That was exactly one of my thoughts after I had already spent a shameful amount of time with the puzzle. I kept wondering if it was possible that dexterity could play a big part in solving the puzzle. I noticed that the provided key could be inserted into its corresponding slot all the way into the distance of the coin slot. In other words, if you flipped the box with the key slot facing down and you could somehow manage to balance the coin on the tip of the key (the key tip is about 3mm flat), you could almost get the coin out of the coin slot. I actually got close a few times, but could never quite get it out, short of a millimeter or two. This wasn’t most certainly the way to go, so here I was without any more ideas.
I had tried pressing on different spots on the box, see if something would slide. I had study it from every possible angle, but nothing seemed to work. The only thing that kept me intrigued was the small hole at the top, which was enough for part of the key to go through, but the bit on the key wouldn’t let go any farther. The key seemed useless, but the hole looked too out of place to be just a red herring. I won’t describe the solution any further, because I reckon it will be worth it for you to discover it by yourself. I believe what I described above is enough for you to make an educated guess on how to proceed.
Constantin’s 20 Cent Box is now one of my favorites trick boxes. It’s won’t require a sequence of movements like the ones used in other boxes, but a combination of things instead. It will surely leave you a smile on your face when you finally get it. If you have one and already managed to solve it, I’d love to hear from you and how you got there. Highly recommended for fans of trick boxes.
Availability: You can get a copy of the 20 Cent Box at PuzzleMaster for $28 CAD. Other designs by Constantin are also available.