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Mr Puzzle - We've got puzzles!

Background Information & History about puzzles in general.

Thanks very much to Dic Sonneveld for emailing us with this very interesting information about puzzles in general and thier history.

Dic is well known for assisting Jerry Slocum to research his recently published book available on this site. Click here for details.
The 15 Puzzle - Written by Jerry Slocum and Dic Sonneveld. Published by The Slocum Puzzle Foundation.
ISBN 1 890980 15 3 First published in 2006. 144 full colour glossy pages Hard cover


“Legpuzzel” in dutch is the word for jigsawpuzzles and tangram-like puzzles, in any case something flat, not 3D. Puzzel is the most general word, encompassing logical puzzles, crosswords, mechanical puzzles and in general all kind of “problems” to solve. There is no general word in dutch for mechanical puzzles, so descriptions like “houten puzzles” (wooden puzzles) are mostly used .

The French word casse-tête originally meant a war club, but was in late 1817 also in use for anything very difficult. On 18 october 1817 a booklet with the title “Le Casse-tête Chinois” was published in Paris, which was a copy of the English publication ” The Chinese Puzzle”. The French did not before that an own word for a mechanical puzzle, two earlier tangram publications were titled “enigmes chinoises” (= chinese enigmas or chinese riddles), but soon “le casse-tête” was synonymous with “the chinese puzzle”. These publications started a tangram puzzle craze on the european continent.

From these times dates also the Italian word Rompicapo, (“Al Gioco Cinese chiamato il Rompi-Capo” was the title of an 1818 Italian publication )

The Spanish Rompecabezas is from some later date, probably introduced as Rompe-Cabezas as one of the titles of French export puzzles. The french literally translated their word Casse-Tête without much knowledge of the other language, sometimes with hilarious results like the name “Toma Hawk” as a supposed correct English translation.

The German name Kopfzerbrecher has been used in 1891 as the name for the Anker tangram puzzle

“Chinese puzzles” became in mid nineteenth century the name for mechanical puzzles from Asia (which in that time actually were made in Japan or India). The word casse-tête nowadays is in France also used for jigsaw puzzles.

Brain is a later variant for head and so are these names:

English: Braincrusher, or Crack Brain puzzle, some of the names used in 1880 for the 15 puzzle

Dutch: Breinbreker. This word is nowadays mostly used for non-tangible logical puzzles.

Unlike word or jigsaw puzzles, mechanical puzzles are hand-held objects that must be manipulated to achieve a specific goal. These puzzles are sometimes referred to as mechanical puzzles, brain teasers, 3d puzzles, mind benders, one person games, or just plain wooden games or wooden toys. In fact in languages other than English 'head breaker' is often the literal translation. Puzzel or legpuzzel in Dutch, Pussel in Swedish are probably the closest to English but the French call them Casse-Tete, in Spanish it's Rompecabezas, the Germans usually say Geduldsspiel and the Hebrew words Hidat Shihzur is literally translated as Restoration Puzzle.

WIKEPEDIA also has some very interesting information about Mechanical Puzzles including a brief history and the categories.

The entry states:
A mechanical puzzle is a puzzle presented as a set of mechanically interlinked pieces.

And gives the definition of the word puzzles as:
A puzzle is a problem or enigma that challenges ingenuity. In a basic puzzle you piece together objects in a logical way in order to come up with the desired shape, picture or solution. Puzzles are often contrived as a form of entertainment, but they can also stem from serious mathematical or logistical problems — in such cases, their successful resolution can be a significant contribution to mathematical research.

Solutions to puzzles may require recognizing patterns and creating a particular order. People with a high inductive reasoning aptitude may be better at solving these puzzles than others. Puzzles based on the process of inquiry and discovery to complete may be solved faster by those with good deduction skills.


Many of our puzzles are often referred to as 'Chinese' puzzles (puzzle in Mandarin is pronounced Pintu) or Japanese puzzles (puzzle in Japanese is pronounced pazuru), or Rubiks puzzles. In fact these puzzles rarely originate in China and only one of them is of the Rubik style however certainly many modern day puzzles have been invented in Japan like the Pandora's Box and the Hanayama cast metal puzzles sold on this site.

On this site you will find many original wood and metal puzzles by Mr Puzzle, very difficult puzzles, as well as classic well known puzzles and brainteasers. We will have included details about the inventor and whatever history we know about each puzzle on the Presentation card which is packaged with it.

We sell high quality jigsaw puzzles with Australian themes and the new photomosaic puzzles as well. The only crossword puzzles or logic puzzles we sell are printed on our puzzle cards.


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