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Jerry Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection

Alternate Title:
Slocum Puzzles

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Database available without restriction Database available without restriction
Indiana University Lilly Library
Indiana University Digital Library Program
500 of the 30,000 puzzles have been cataloged and digitized

Lilly Library and the Digital Library Program present the online Jerry Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection, which embodies a lifetime pursuit for the intriguing, the perplexing, and the compelling. Unlike word or jigsaw puzzles, mechanical puzzles are hand-held objects that must be manipulated to achieve a specific goal. The Rubik's cube and tangrams are popular examples. Confounding and delightful, precise and whimsical, the puzzles in the Slocum collection represent centuries of mathematical, social, and recreational history from across five continents.

When complete, the Slocum collection database will allow researchers and puzzle enthusiasts to search and browse the largest assemblage of its kind in the world, with over 30,000 puzzles. The puzzle classification system used in this database was developed by Jerry Slocum on the basis of a scheme set out by Professor Angelo Louis Hoffmann in the now-classic 1893 book, Puzzles Old and New, and has been adopted by puzzle collectors and enthusiasts in several countries.

Puzzles types include:

  1. Put-Togther Puzzles — Object: Putting puzzle together (e.g., Tangrams)
  2. Take-Apart Puzzles — Object: Taking puzzle apart (e.g., Puzzle Boxes)
  3. Interlocking Solid Puzzles — Object: Puzzle disassembly and assembly (e.g., Cube)
  4. Disentanglement Puzzles — Object: Puzzle disentanglement and entanglement (e.g., Chinese Rings)
  5. Sequential Movement Puzzles — Object: Moving puzzle parts to attain goal (e.g., Rubik's Cube)
  6. Dexterity puzzles — Object: Manual dexterity to solve puzzle (e.g., Cup and Ball)
  7. Puzzle Vessels — Object: Filling vessel or drinking without spilling (e.g., Puzzle Jugs)
  8. Vanish Puzzles — Object: Explain vanished or changed image (e.g., Loyd's Get Off the Earth)
  9. Folding Puzzles — Object: Fold object to specified pattern (e.g., Fifth Pig Puzzle)
  10. Impossible Puzzles — Object: Explain how object was made or why it behaves in seemingly impossible ways (e.g., Arrow thru Bottle)

Number of Users:
Interlibrary Loan:
Not Permitted
Resource Advocate:
Porter, Dorothy
SFX Source:
Federated Search:

IUB Library Subjects:
  • Communication and Culture
  • American Studies
  • Art & Art History