Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

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The Cherries Puzzle / The Three Pieces Puzzle / The Card Puzzle / The Liberty Bell
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of four related puzzles, none of which can be solved without folding the paper or card of which they are, at least partly, constructed. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

The Cherries Puzzle

The first appearance of the Cherries Puzzle in the historical record that I know of is in the manucript 'De Viribus Quantitatis' by Luca Pacioli which was written in or around 1502. I have not been able to access the original document or an English translation but the dissertation 'Luca Pacioli and his 1500 book De Viribus Quantitatis' (which can be found at http://repositorio.ul.pt/bitstream/10451/18435/1/ulfc113829_tm_Tiago_Hirth.pdf) states that the ms says:

'Take and place 2 cherries in a letter split in half. Two cherries are strung to a piece of paper cut in a particular way and are left as a puzzle to be removed. This is an impossible object.'

And comments that:

'Pacioli makes reference to a missing illustration while explaining how to remove the cherries. It is most likely that this puzzle is the following: Take a piece of paper, cut it so that an oblong rectangular slip is created. By one of its shorter sides, make a hole next to the slip of paper. The cherries, or a string with two rings attached, are placed on the slip by folding the long rectangular bit through the hole. After unfolding the piece of paper again, the stem of the cherries secures them to the strip of paper.'

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The Cherries Puzzle also appears, in both single and double forms, in the 1686 edition of Simon Witgeest's 'Het natuurlyk tover-boek', published in Amsterdam. I have not been able to check whether or not it also appeared in the original 1682 edition.

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The single version of the puzzle also appears:

In 'I Giochi Numerici Fatti Arcani' by Iuseppe Antonio Alberti, which was published by Bartolomeo Borghi in Bologna in 1747.

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In 'Tresor des Jeux' by Carlo Antonio was published in Geneva by Henri-Albert Gosse & Comp and in La Haye, The Netherlands, by Pierre Gosse, Junior, both in 1759. As far as I know the two editions were identical.

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In 'Die Zehenmal Hundert und Eine Kunst' by Albrecht Ernst Friedrich von Crailsheim, was brought together / published in 10 volumes in Nurnberg in 1766.

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In 'Spielbuch fur Knaben' by Hermann Wagner, which was published by Verlag von Otto Spamer in Leipzig in 1864, although the foreword is dated May 1863, which argues that the book was complete at that date.

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As 'The Cherry Cheat' in the 'thoroughly revised and considerably enlarged' edition of 'The Boy's Own Book', which was published in London by Crosby, Lockwood and Co in 1880.

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As 'La Probleme des Cherises' in 'Jeux et Jouet du Jeune Age' by Gaston Tissandier, which was published by G Masson in Paris in 1884, this time with the cherry stems threaded through two holes.

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It also appears, in perhaps its simplest form, in 'La Recreation En Famille' by Tom Tit, which was published in Paris in 1903 by Librairie Armand Colin.

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The Three Pieces Puzzle

As far as I know this puzzle, in which the two cherries are replaced by a strip of paper and in which the object is to link rather than unlink the pieces, first appears in 'Deliciae physico-mathematicae, oder mathematische und philosophische Erquickstunden' by Daniel Schwenter, which was first published in 1636.

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It also appears:

In 'Die Zehenmal Hundert und Eine Kunst' by Albrecht Ernst Friedrich von Crailsheim, was brought together / published in 10 volumes in Nurnberg in 1766.

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The Card Puzzle

Essentially the same puzzle, but in another form, appears under the title 'The Card Puzzle' in 'The Boy's Own Book' by William Clarke, which was published by Vizetelly, Branston and Company in London in 1828.

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The Card Puzzle version also appeared in 'Bright and Happy Homes' by Peter Parley, Jr, which was published in Chicago and New York by Fairbanks, Palmer and Co in 1882. My thanks to David Shall for this information.

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The Liberty Bell

As far as I know this revamped version of the puzzle, called 'The Liberty Bell', first appeared in 'Houdini's Paper Magic', which was published by E P Dutton and Company of New York in 1922.

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