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John D. Boyle (1891-1968), an English-born New York advertising executive who lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, patented several mechanical puzzles. At least two of these were produced, including this one, which sold under the name TAKITAPART. The puzzle consists of ten wooden pieces – four rectangular blocks with square faces, two interlocking cross bars, and four dowels that hold the other pieces together. A coin (according to the advertising, a penny, but in this example, a dime) fits into a slit in one of the blocks. The object of the puzzle is to take apart the pieces and claim the coin. In addition to the puzzle itself, there is a sheet of instructions and a box.
A mark on one of the cross pieces reads: TAKITAPART (/) MADE IN USA. A mark on the box reads: PAT (/) PEND. TAKITAPART (/) TR (/) MK. Another mark, on the back of the box, reads: 20th Century’s (/) GREATEST PUZZLE SENSATION. Boyle applied for a patent for this puzzle June 25, 1938 and received it November 28, 1939, which suggests the date of the object.
Compare MA.333295 and MA.333289.
John D. Boyle, “Puzzle,” U.S. Patent 2,181,116, November 28, 1939.
“John D. Boyle, 77, Ex-Head of an Advertising Agency,” New York Times, May 30, 1968, p. 25.
Jerry Slocum and Jack Botermans, Puzzles Old & New: How to Make and Solve Them, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1986, p. 52.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
place made
United States
Physical Description
paper (box, instructions material)
wood (pieces material)
metal (coin material)
overall: 1.5 cm x 7.75 cm x 7.75 cm; 19/32 in x 3 1/16 in x 3 1/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Edith R. Meggers
Mathematical Recreations
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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