Saturday, September 12, 2009

Japanese Puzzle Box

I found a beautiful Japanese puzzle box with inlaid wood at the swapmeet this morning, shown here from two views. Puzzle boxes, popular at various times in history, are intended to be impossible to open by anyone other than the owner, who knows the secret. Through trial and error, I made my way through several of the steps - hidden slats on the sides slide outward in stages - but I still haven't found the key to fully sliding the top open.

Puzzle boxes are only a few of the intriguing objects in the puzzle collection of Jerry Slocum, who founded the Puzzle Museum in Beverly Hills. (I am proud to be related to Jerry and Margot Slocum on my father's side of the family.) He recently donated his collection to Indiana University's Lilly Library. The Library has established the Jerry Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection in its own room and many of the pieces can be seen online. Go to and click on "online database."

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