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Recreational Mathematics

Guide to archival and published sources held at the University of Calgary Library Special Collections on the subject of recreational mathematics including rare books, kaleidoscopes, games, puzzles, playing cards, magazines and journals.

Puzzles & Riddles

Puzzles and riddles are perhaps the most well-known activities within recreational math.  Math puzzles and riddles are fun and interesting, and they help improve problem solving skills and thinking capacity! Puzzles and riddles are also an important area of research for many mathematicians. There are hundreds of puzzle and riddle books dating back to the 1800s! Here are just a few covers from puzzle and riddle books in the Strens Collection.

   A puzzle booklet which was published in the 1890's!    Puzzle Book from ??


 To view the material contact

or visit the Arts and Culture Reading Room on the 5th floor of the Taylor Family Digital Library.

Sample Puzzles

Here are a few sample questions from "Problematical Recreations", a collection of booklets dedicated to interesting mathematical brain teasers!


Sample Questions:

Answer: Approximately 240,000 miles, the earth-moon distance since the earth is a "synchronous satellite" of the moon.

Answer: It does make a difference. A submerged body displaces its volume; a floating body displaces its weight. Since a penny is denser than water, dropping it into the canoe will raise the water level higher.

Other sample questions from "Rithmetic -- Of The Purest Kind"

17. How can you divide 6 apples among 7 persons so each will have the same amount?

41. A frog was at the bottom of a well 30 feet deep. It jumps 3 feet each day and falls back 2 feet each day. How many days will it take to reach the top?

151. A farmer had a pen made of 50 hurdles, capable of holding 100 sheep only; supposing he wanted to make it sufficiently large to hold double that number, how many additional hurdles would he have to have?


17. The best way would be to make applesauce and then divide evenly.

41. On the 27th day the frog would be at the 27 foot level. On the 28th day the frog would jump 3 more feet and reach the 30 foot level at the top

151. Least number is 2, one at either end to change 24 by 1, to 24 by 2.

Puzzle Websites

To start practicing right now, here are a few websites that we like: