Mechanical Puzzles

Mechanical Puzzles

Nearly all of the puzzles on our site fall into this category of puzzles.  A mechanical puzzle is presented as a set of mechanically interlinked pieces.


SubCategories of mechanical puzzles may be:

- Assembly puzzles (or “Put Together Puzzles”)

- Disassembly (“Take Apart Puzzles”)

- Interlocking (such as “Burr Puzzles”)

- Disentanglement Puzzles (such as “String” and “Wire” Puzzles)

- Fold Puzzles (typically the object is to fold a piece of paper to achieve a picture)

- Lock Puzzles (trick locks)

- Dexterity Puzzles ( not strictly puzzles; our Champagne Cup is an example)

- Impossible Objects (puzzles which at first sight do not seem possible. Our Impossible Joint or Impossible Square would be examples)

- Sequential Movement puzzles

Other subcategory definitions or breakdowns are possible, as there is not really a definitive terminology.


The oldest known mechanical puzzle comes from 3rd century BC Greece.  It was similar to a modern tangram, but with a square divided into 14 pieces and an aim to create shapes from these pieces.


In Iran, puzzle locks were made as early as the 17th century.


Around 1800, the tangram became popular around the world and for 50 years dominated puzzle interests, and of course is still popular today.


In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s mechanical puzzles as we know them came into being in earnest and were very popular. In 1893 Professor Hoffman wrote a book called “Puzzles Old and New”. It contained more than 40 descriptions of puzzles with secret openings and other mechanisms. Patents for puzzles began to flourish as popularity and commercial opportunities grew.

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