An Introduction to the wide range of Mechanical Puzzles
and a guide to their Classification.

Mention "Puzzles" to many people and their mind just goes to Jigsaws and Rubik Cubes missing the vast range of didactic objects that have been teaching post Industrial Revolution children the art of Problem Solving for the past 250 years.

Jump to Main Class

An index to Puzzles of the Month from 2000 to 2017 sorted by Puzzle Class
to show both all the Classes of Puzzle and their Definitions.


CLASS Definitions



N.B. Every main class includes these two subclasses: -
OTH for other puzzles that will not easily fit into the other sub-classes.
REL for non-puzzles but closely related objects.


AMB AMBIGUOUS PICTURES & PUZZLING OBJECTS (AMB) in which something appears impossible or ambiguous.
AMB-ARCH Archimboldesque Objects Pictures and objects of one subject made up from unrelated images or objects.
  Archimboldesque Portrait
  Oval Box
AMB-HIDD Hidden Image Pictures (no manipulation required) Devinettes (obscure outlines), "Spot the Difference", Random Dot Stereograms
  Ha! Ha! I've Eaten the Manx Cat!
  Tonbeau du Roi Martyr
  French Devinette Plate
AMB-HMAN Hidden Image Pictures (Manipulation Required) "Naughty Butterflys", "Find the 5th Pig", Needing coloured overlays, Soot on unglazed part of ashtray
AMB-DIST Distortions Anamorphic pictures
AMB-ILLU Perception Illusions Optical Illusions, Weight Illusions
  Is this Rabbit a Duck
AMB-POBJ Paradoxical Objects (Objects that apparently cannot be made) Arrow through bottle, Impossible Dovetails, Oskar's "Escher Puzzle", Penrose triangles.
  Staffordshire puzzle pipe.
  Impossible Playing Card Olympics 2012
  Ships in Bottles. Harry Eng
  Nine Nested Bottles
AMB-TURN Pictures that require turning to show different images.  
  Gladstone Donkey Vesta
  Fourfold Happiness and Joy
  News from the War
AMB-VANI Vanishing images or areas. Hoopers Paradox.  
  John Bull's Bobs Vanishing Puzzle
  Metamorphic Swan to Dog
ASS ASSEMBLY PUZZLES (ASS) (NON-INTERLOCKING) require the arrangement of separate pieces to make specific shapes without regard to the sequence of that placing, they may clip together but do not interlock in 3D. Some have a container and are posed as packing problems.
ASS-CART Assembly of Cartesian Parts Pentominoes, Checkerboards, Polycubes, Soma, "Hoffman" cube,  "Managon", "Even Steven", Squashed Soma, Laker Cube
  Mayer's Cube
  3 cubed + 4 cubed + 5 cubed = 6 cubed
  Nobman Puzzle made by Toyo Glass
  T.H.O'Beirnes Cube
ASS-OTH Assembly of other shapes Pack the Plums, Apple & Worms, "Phoney Baloney", Gears
  Early Printing Stool Puzzle.
  Geapple Puzzle
  Toy Fort is a puzzle
  Office in a Box
  Olympic Puzzles 1
  Porridge Pot on the Fire"
  Round 21 Disk Packing Puzzle competition
ASS-POLY Assembly Polyhedra & Spheres Ball Pyramids
  Stereometry Made Easy
ASS-STRA Straight Edge/Face Non-cartesian Tangram, T-puzzle, Triangular & Hexagonal polyominoes, 9-piece ivory cube
  1817 The First European Tangram.
  Napoleon Tangram Puzzle
  Fit a square tangram in a round hole
  Geometrical Recreations in 15 pieces
DEX DEXTERITY PUZZLES (DEX) require the use of manual dexterity or other physical skills in their solution.
DEX-BALL Dexterity. Plain Balls into holes Pentangle "Roly-Poly" puzzles
  The British Lion Puzzle
  Blisters - Inexpensive Puzzle Collecting
  Milton Keynes the new city for 1967
  A fake antique
DEX-INLQ Dexterity in Liquid Water-filled puzzles
  Toyo's Spirit Leveler Puzzle
  Wilbur Wright Puzzle
DEX-LQOB Liquid objects Mercury manipulation
DEX-MECH Mechanised Decterities. most Tomy's "Pocketeers"
  Tomy Pocketeer Puzzle
DEX-MIRR Indirect viewing by mirror. lKohner's "Nervous Breakdown"
  Find the North Pole mirror puzzle
DEX-OBST Dexterity with sundry obstacles &/or objects Ramps - bridges - jumping beans - etc.
  Gas Masks to Puzzles
  Passive resisters to the 1902 Education Act
DEX-OTH Other Dexterities Pneumatic operation
  Silver Bullet Scenic Puzzle
  Krazy Kar Automobile Puzzle
  The Jolly Vagabond and the Policeman
  Port Arthur Puzzles from the Russian-Japanese War Battleship Fort
  Eiffel Tower Puzzle
  South African dexterity puzzle with railways fords and kraal huts
  The League of Nations. Leave or Remain
  The Spanish Trocha in Cuba
  Cosmolink - The Psycho-Kinetic Puzzle
DEX-PITF Path to follow without falling in traps Siver Bullet
  Yiddle from World War One
  R.Journet Educational Game - The Sea
  Sky Pirates - Zeppelin Puzzle
  Stanley's March to Kavalli
  The North Pole Game
  Gallipoli Landings Puzzles
DEX-RTFL Route following Dexterity -
  Crippen Chase Hamiltonian Puzzle
  Superplexus Puzzle
DEX-HIDD Objects concealed from view Four Generations "Ball in Block", Engel's "Black Box"
DEX-ELEC Electrical & Electronic Dexterities -
DEX-PINB Pinball related dexterities Bagatelle
DEX-TOOL Using tools & magnetic tools -
  Women's Suffrage Puzzle 1906
DEX-UNCA Uncased Dexterities Cup & Ball, "Le Pendu", "Theo der Turnier", Tomy's "Crazy Maze", Puzzles using Tops
  Tipsy Toff
FOL FOLDING & HINGED PUZZLES (FOL) have parts that are joined together and usually do not come apart. They are solved by hinging, flexing, or folding.
FOL-HGCL Hinged Parts in Closed chain Flexagons, Rubik's "Magic", "Flexicube"
  Twiddle word puzzle"
FOL-HGOP Folding Hinged parts in Open chain Rubik's "Snake", Strung Cubes, Clinch Cube
FOL-OTH Other Folding Puzzles  
FOL-SHEE Folding sheets & strips Map Folding, "Jail Nixon", strip polyhedra
  Frederickson's Decagon to Pentagram
FOL-SPRI Folding Springy wire and strips "Why Knots", Mobius Strips
  Moebius Strip Puzzle
INT INTERLOCKING PUZZLES (INT) interlock in three dimensions, i.e. one or more pieces hold the rest together, or the pieces are mutually self-sustaining. Many clip together puzzles are "non-interlocking".
INT-CART Cartesian (Internal Parts along 3 mutually perpendicular axes) Burrs, Cutler's Burr in a glass, most plastic keychains, JWIP,  "Nine of Swords"
  Puzzle Rattle from the Crimean War
  Mongolian Burr Puzzles
  Ninomiya's Boxed Cage Puzzle
  24 Piece Burr in Engine Turned Ivory
  Six-Piece Burr
  Tramp work Table
  Puzzle Ball
  Bone Puzzle by Napoleonic prisoner
INT-OTH Other Interlocking Shapes "Tak-it-Apart", "Plato's Plight"
  Michelin Men and their Machines
  Adriano Mini by Miguel Berrocal
  MoonPi 3D Printed Puzzle
  Bell's Keychain Puzzle Piano
  Packets to Fans and Frames
  Bon Ton Laundry Puzzle
  Three Olympic Puzzles by Miguel Berrocal
INT-POLY Interlocking Polyhedral & other non-cartesian geometric shapes. Coffin's "Saturn", Squashed burrs
  The Sphinx
  Eduard Bakalar - Plato's Secret
  Scott's Enigma
  Pentapod 3D printed puzzles
  Puzzle Book Rests
JIG JIGSAW PUZZLES (JIG) are made as if cut or stamped into pieces from a single complete object, and the principle objective is to restore them to their unique original form.
JIG-OTH Other jigsaws Stave variable picture, "Toyznet", Bilhourd's incomplete surfaces
  Van Houten's Hot Chocolate Puzzle
  A Puzzle House
  Puzzle Globe Nuremberg 1800s
  Silver Bullet Scenic puzzles
  Puzzle Globe1927 by Geographic Educators
JIG-REL JIGSAW- related  
  A Puzzle Nut
  Healy Pictorial Completion Test
JIG-STD Standard Jigsaws Can include double sided puzzles, & jigsaws with holes & gaps
  Eurograph jigsaw of World War I trenches
  Vera Jigsaw Puzzle Ivory jigsaw
  Monkeypuzzle multi layered jigsaw puzzles
  Wooden 3D Jigsaws
JIG-SLOP Jigsaws with non perpendicular/sloping cuts "Broken Heart", Japanese "Sabre Tooth Tiger"
JIG-LAYR JIG-LAYR Multiple layer Jigsaws Transparent Escher jigsaw
JIG-IDEN Jigsaws with identical pieces "Shmuzzles", Ceramic hexagons, Picture Cubes & Blocks
JUG JUGS & VESSELS (JUG) have a mechanical puzzle or trick in their construction that affects the filling, pouring or drinking therefrom.
JUG- STD Puzzle Vessels standard (built-in tubes to suck) -
  Zsolnay Puzzle Jug and Whistle
  William Baron's Radioactive Puzzle Jug
JUG- BASE JUG-BASE Vessels that pour from Base. Jolly Jugs, Thrift Cups
  Pour from base Puzzle Jug
JUG-NLID Lidless Vessels (fill from base) Cadogan Teapots, Chinese winepots
  Cadogan Teapots and Chinese Wine Pots
JUG-OTH Other vessels Royale's "Self-Pouring" Patent,  Spoutless winepots (hydraulic seal)
  Venetian Glass Puzzle Bowl
  Crested China Puzzle Jugs and other Vessels
JUG-CPLX Complex Vessels requiring special manipulation Gemma Patent 2006, Combination JUG-STD/JUG-BASE
OPN OPENING PUZZLES (OPN) are puzzles in which the principle object is to open it, close it, undo it, remove something from it, or otherwise get it to work. They usually comprise a single object or associated parts such as a box with its lid, a padlock and its hasp, or a nut & bolt. The mechanism of the puzzle is not usually apparent, nor do they involve general assembly or disassembly of parts that interlock in 3D.
OPN-BOX Opening Containers Boxes, Purses
  72 move secret puzzle box
  Sorrento Book Boxes
  17th Century Sun & Moon Puzzle Snuff Box
  Arthur Simpson Puzzle Box
  Balkan Puzzle
  Ne Plus Ultra Puzzle Match-Safe or Vesta
  Iwahara's Trinary Box
  Boxwood mechanical puzzle box
  The Vault Puzzle
  Miniature Michel Mann Armada Chest
OPN-HIDD Opening/finding Hidden Compartments not originally designed as puzzles Chippendale Tea-Chests, Poison Rings.
  The Scannavini Puzzle Cabinet
  Mystery Folk Art Puzzle Box
  Mystery Folk Art Puzzle Box  
  The Angel Box
  Snuff Ball Puzzle
OPN-LOCK Opening Locks Padlocks
  Antique Brass Fish Puzzle Padlock
OPN-OTH Opening other objects Nut & Bolt, Knives, Pens, Cutlery, Oskar's Keys, Oskar's "Dovetail", "Hazelgrove Box"
  Ornamental Turned "Find the Queen" puzzle
  Cutlery Set
  Strijbos Red Egg Puzzles
OTH OTHER TYPES OF MECHANICAL PUZZLES & OBJECTS. (OTH) This group is for puzzle objects that do not easily fall into the main categories and cannot be categorised into sufficiently large groups to warrant their own major class. Included in this group are Balancing, Measuring, Cutting, Math, Logic, Trick, Mystery, & Theoretical puzzles. Also provision is made for puzzles pending classification.
OTH-BAL Balancing (non-dexterity) "Columbus Egg"
  Magic Balancing Egg
OTH-ELEC Electrical & Electronic (non-dexterity) -
  Nombrex - Electronic Noughts and Crosses
OTH-MATH Mathematical Puzzles (excluding number pattern arrangements) -  
  Perry's 21 Puzzle
OTH-MYST Objects whose function or material is a mystery Wotsits, Creteco spacers
  Puzzle Napkin Ring
  Puzzling piece of Potting
OTH-PEND PENDING CLASSIFICATION !! Puzzles awaiting classification
  Brass & Copper Chessboard puzzle.
  Four-way Fan
  Puzzles for Dogs
  Boat of Bits
OTH-SET Sets of Puzzles of Mixed Type Compendiums of mixed type puzzles
  New & Ingenious Puzzles by John Jaques & Son
  Columbian Exposition - Lost puzzles from Saharanpore
  Chinese Puzzle Compendium
  Ackermann River Crossing Turks and Christians.
  The Children's Encyclopedia WONDER BOX
OTH-TRIK Trick or Catch Puzzles (solution needs subterfuge) "Infernal Bottle", Some magic tricks
  Samson Mystery Pig Puzzle
OTH-WORD Puzzles applied to objects, the puzzle more usually found printed on paper Rebus, Anagrams, Riddles,  Crosswords, Etc. (on Plates, Jugs, Loo Paper, etc.)
  Puzzle challenge by Johnson Jeweler of Dublin
  Ne Plus Ultra Puzzle Match-Safe or Vesta
  Caroline Mary Peachey's 1804 riddle sampler
  1809 Handheld Fire Screens
  Hieroglyphic Letters in Watercolour
  John Leech's Puzzle Pictures
  Happy Winter Solstice 2012
  Word Counting Puzzle
  Staffordshire Pottery Riddle Jug
  Peruvian Quipo
OTH-MEAS Measuring & Weighing Puzzles Jugs & Liquids, 12 Golf Balls, Archimedes Gold
OTH-CUT Cutting Puzzles Cork for 3 Holes, Five Squares Puzzle
OTH-LOGI Logic Puzzles Cartoon pictures to arrange in order
OTH-MAGI Magic & Conjuring Puzzles Self-working magic tricks
OTH-VIRT Puzzles whose existence is only theoretically possible. Such as 4d puzzles, or those which can ONLY  be represented on a computer
PAT PATTERN PUZZLES (PAT) require the placing or arrangement of separate pieces of a similar nature to complete surface patterns according to defined rules. The pattern required may be the matching of edges of squares, faces of cubes, etc. The pattern may be colour, texture, shape, etc. Where the pattern is due to differences in shape they must be sufficiently minor not to obscure the similarity of the pieces.
PAT-STIX Patterns of sticks Match Puzzles, Jensen's "Tricky Laberint"
PAT-EDGE Matching Edges &/or Corner  patterns Heads & Tails, "Dodeca", Macmahon squares
  Prize Puzzle Royal International Life-Boat Institution
PAT-NUMB Arrangements of Number Patterns Magic Squares, Number Puzzles
  Magic Square
  Magic Squares by Jaques 1852
  Blind Abbess and her Nuns - Manuscript 1865
PAT-OTH Other Pattern puzzles Oskar's "Solar System"
  Jolikin by Milty Products Salford
PAT-SIMI Pattern arrangements of similar, points, pegs, or pieces according to predetermined rules Queens on Chess Board, Josephus, Waddington's "Black Box", "Instant Insanity", "Dodeca", Macmahon cubes, Bognar's "Planets"
  Canny Skipper a version of the Josephus Problem
  The World's Puzzle.
  Josephus' Seven Puzzle
PAT-DISS Arrangement of dissimilar pieces to make pattern according to predetermined rules "Testa", Skor Mor's "Instant Indecision", Chinese Balls in Ball,  Waddington's "Kolor Kraze"
PAT-STAK Stacking, Overlapping & Weaving Patterns Stacking Transparent Layers, "Lapin", Loyd's Donkeys, Weaving puzzles
RTF ROUTEFINDING PUZZLES (RTF) require the solver to find either any path, or a specific path as defined by certain rules.
RTF-ANY Route Mazes (any path) Most Hedge mazes, Mazes on surface of a cube, Ball in 4x4x4 cube of cubelets
  The Lost sheep Puzzle Australia 1889
  Busy Bee Route finding Puzzle
RTF-CPLX Routefinding with Changing Path &/or Complex Traveller "Frying Pan" (changing), ;Yankee"(complex), "Tandem Maze"(complex), "Bootlegger"(complex)
  Dual Alliance between France & Russia in 1894
  1890s Hide and Seek Maze
RTF-OTH Complex Route Mazes with special objectives "Worried Woodworm", Colour Mazes, Number totalling mazes, avoiding objects, visiting places en route
  Mobius Maze
RTF-REL Routefinding related  
  Labyrinth on silver stater from Knossos
RTF-UNIC Unicursal Routefinding Icosian Game, Konigsburg Bridges
  Sir William Hamilton's Icosian Game and Traveller's Dodecahedron Puzzle.
RTF-STEP Routefinding Step Mazes  Ring & Hole mazes, "Pike's Peak"
SEQ SEQUENTIAL MOVEMENT PUZZLES (SEQ) are those that can be solved only by moves which can be seen to be dependant on previously made moves.
SEQ-GRP Sliding & Shunting with Mechanical or Rotating parts (some Group moves NEEDED) "Tower of Babel", "Missing Link", "Backspin", "Turntable Train", Tomy's "Great Gears", Raba's "Rotascope", "Rubik's" Cube, "Orbit" TWISTY PUZZLES
  Magic Icosahedron
  Erno Rubik's Magic Cube
  Jugo Flower Puzzle
  Beijing Olympic Sphere Puzzle
SEQ-HOPP Sequential Hopping & Jumping. Solitaire, Tower of Hanoi, Counter & Peg moving puzzles
  Indian Solitaire
  Solitaire Boards
  Eduardo Lucas: La Tour D'Hanoi (Tower of Hanoi)
  Olympic Wander Rings Puzzle
  1894 US Presidential Election
  Panama Puzzle"
SEQ-OTH Sequential Miscellaneous Mechanical "The Brain", "Hexadecimal", "Spin Out"
SEQ-PLAC Sequential Placement "Psychic Puzzle", "Fit Puzzle"
  Puzzle of Puzzles by William Darton
  Oktostar Puzzle
  Star Wars Episode II counter display
SEQ-RIVR Sequential River Crossing "Wolf,Sheep & Cabbage"
  Clergy and Umbrella
SEQ-SIMP Sequential Simple Sliding & Shunting (No group moves needed) 15s puzzle, Tit-Bit's "Teasers", "Inversions"
  Kinsey's Combination Puzzle
  Pax Puzzle
  Russian-Japanese War Chifu-Chemulpo Railway
  Perplexicon Puzzle
SEQ-ROLL Sequential Rolling Rolling 8 Cubes
TNG TANGLEMENT PUZZLES (TNG) have parts that must be linked or unlinked. The linked parts, which may be flexible, have significant freedom of movement in relation to each other, unlike the parts of an interlocking puzzle.
TNG-FLEX All Flexible Parts Leather & paper tanglement puzzles
  The Kaiser's moustache
  Scotsman's bagpipe Puzzle"
TNG-R&F Tanglement of Rigid & Flexible Parts Hess Wire puzzles, Dalgety's "Devil's Halo"
  The Mantrap Puzzle
  A Cannon not in Hoffmann
  Perry's Fish Puzzle
  Torbus Toroidal Puzzles
  Aeriel Puzzle
  Devil's Halo Puzzle
  Muroi's Circus
  Russian-Japanese War Torpedoes and Prisoners
  Jameson Raid - South Africa - Transvaal War
  Irish Question 1880s
TNG-RIGI Tanglement of Rigid & Semi Rigid Parts Wire PUZZLES, Cast "ABC", Chinese Rings
  Chinese Rings Puzzle from India
  Tricycle Puzzles
  Bland's "Egyptian Mystery"
  Boodle Alderman Puzzle
  Poppy Appeal Puzzle
TNG-RING Puzzle Finger Rings Puzzle Rings, Puzzle Bracelets


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