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Interlocking Burrs - Budget

Jerry Slocum & Jack Botermans' research published in 2007 in "Het Ultieme Puzzleboek" tells us that the earliest verified evidence of interlocking burrs actually being sold is Peter Friedrich Catel's catalog of puzzles dated 1785 which showed 6 & 24 piece burrs being sold in Berlin. However, they also report unverified stories of a 6 piece burr invented in China by Lu Ban sou as early as the 7th century B.C.

The puzzles in this category have generally been mass produced but that does not mean the designs are any less interesting or less challenging. In fact some of the best puzzle designers in the world are represented in this category.

Read more about burr puzzles at Wikipedia.

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  • 6 piece wooden star puzzle

    6 piece wooden Star puzzle

    The puzzle is to build the cluster like 12 pointed star from the 6 ide...
  • Candy Box packing cube

    Candy Box packing cube

    Quickly tip all the pieces out of the box frame so you don't memorise ...

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The true origin of the BURR type mechanical puzzle is not really known but it is thought that the term refers to the finished shape of the basic burr puzzle looking like a seed burr. 

Basic burr puzzles are sometimes called the Knot or the Chinese Cross, and identified by a lot of people as Chinese, is not really Chinese at all.  Well, it might be, just that no-one really knows for sure.

Some historians believe the first burrs came about from Chinese joinery from about the 4th century BC. The technique the woodworkers used for making the corner connections in buildings has definite similarities to a standard burr puzzle although no documentary evidence of making a puzzle for recreation exists.

It is known for sure that it's one of the oldest mechanical puzzles in the world. The first documentation of the puzzle is not a physical puzzle but a depiction in the 1698 engraving by Sébastien Leclerc's called L'Académie des sciences et des beaux-arts. But probably there had to have been a physical puzzle made for that artwork to be taken from; possibly from China?

But I bet you never really associated Lithuania with burr puzzles. But that country's oldest known toys were made of wood. The most favourite toys were wooden puzzles, including burrs. Lithuania celebrated that history by featuring a wooden interlocking burr puzzle on the 2015 Lithuanian issue of the Europa stamp.

Nowadays many interlocking burrs are designed in a fantastic open source program called BurrTools. Andreas Rover began designing the program back in 2009 as a way of solving and testing solutions for puzzles and now many puzzles would freely admit they could not live without it. Thanks, Andreas!

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