"Problems en Action"

A Beautiful Tunbridge ware Box of Puzzles

This extraordinary compendium of puzzles has survived in near mint condition since it was sold by Rudolf Ackermann in London sometime between 1798-1826.
The box is 140mm (5.5 inches) long and contains the pieces for four puzzles.

The box is lined with pink paper and contains three folded sheets of paper and a handmade pink envelope.

The pink envelope contains the paper figures for two classic River Crossing Puzzles:
The Ferryman with his Wolf, Goat and Cabbage, and the Three Jealous Husbands and their Wives.

The boat has a slit so that the travelers can be slotted into it during their journeys.

One of the folded sheets is the instructions for three problems, one contains the pieces for the Fifteen Turks and Christians puzzle, and one contains a 4th puzzle - The dissected Cross .

The box is a fine example of early Tunbridge ware and was made in Tunbridge Wells; however both the box label and River Crossing figures were, we suspect, printed in France.


For more on Ackermann see "Ackermann 1783-1983" by John Ford. ISBN 0 946186 03 0.

Google "Josephus Problem" and "River Crossing Puzzles" to discover more puzzles.

We show another of our River Crossing Puzzles as Puzzle of the Month for July 2006
There is scope for someone to write a thesis on "Morality & Social Values as illustrated by River Crossing Puzzles". Cannibals and Missionaries, Masters and Servants, Clerics and their Women, Husbands and Wives, &c. all seem to live in a very puzzling world.