Puzzles Old and New: How to Make and Solve Them was first published in 1986 and later published in paperback. I borrowed it from my Library a couple of times and recently obtained my own copy. If you have any interest in puzzles, you’ll immediately agree that this book is outstanding in every way. The authors are two of the biggest names when it comes to writing about mechanical puzzles of today and of the past. Jerry Slocum has collected puzzles all his life, has over 30,000 and has probably the finest collection in the world. He is President of the Slocum Puzzle Foundation in Beverly Hills, California.
This book is an overview of just about everything there is about puzzles. There are all kinds of puzzles such as Crossword, Word Search and many types more commonly called Pencil Puzzles but that is not what this book is all about. It is somewhat difficult to define Mechanical Puzzles but if you think of the types of puzzles that you can pick up in your hand, it helps to see the types of puzzles covered in the book. The authors cover puzzles everyone is familiar with such as Rubik’s Cube, Sliding Blocks, Tangrams, Wire, String & Rings, Mazes, Puzzle Locks, Puzzle Boxes, and Take-Apart Puzzles. I think you get the picture. The authors cover the history of the puzzles and give hundreds of pictures of them from their collections as well as from collections of other great collectors. The book has many pictures of the creators of puzzles and it is a real treat to put a face to the names which are so well known in the puzzle world. The book is a pure delight to read and to look at the fascinating array of puzzles but it doesn’t end there. There is all kinds of information on how to go about solving many of the puzzles and on top of that lots of instructions oh how you can make many of the puzzles. No doubt, the reader could build quite a collection of puzzles, just from the information in the book. I also find this book to be a real help in finding and identifying puzzles. People don’t throw away these puzzles but they often end up in Flea and Antique Markets, Second Hand Shops, Garage Sales and so forth. This book shows you what to look for and find. Let me give you an example. A while back, I saw one of the Japanese building towers shown on page 65, sitting on a shelf amongst a bunch of bric-a brac, didn’t recognize it as a puzzle and passed it by. When I saw it in this book, I immediately knew what I had missed. Oh well, live and learn. The point is, if you hope to find puzzles, you got to know what to look for and this book shows you. Another good example is that the Bombay stores carries puzzles at times and recently had 4 very well constructed puzzles. I bought one called “The Comet” which is quite similar to the “Papa-Chuck” puzzle on page 74 and consists of 51 interlocking pieces. So, if solving, collecting, making or anything else about puzzles interests you, this book will become a prized possession. It would take many lifetimes for one person to find and enjoy what the authors have assembled in this excellent book and made it available with extremely high color, paper, illustrations, printing and construction quality and at the same time a very reasonable cost. While you’re at it, why not check out Jerry Slocum’s Page on the web, to see what’s going on in the world of puzzles. You can purchase this book at Amazon.