The Davenport Collection
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Impossible object

Davenport Collection website e-news #20, December 2023

Davenport Collection website e-news #20, December 2023

Click on Details if you would like to download a PDF of this e-news.
E-newsletters like this one are sent out four times a year, highlighting recent additions to the website. If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, please contact the curator. The December 2023 issue included:
– A pen with a surprise.
– Gone but not forgotten: tricks with cigarettes and pre-decimal coins.
– Besoni: a versatile Victorian entertainer.
– Ever more impossible joints.
– J.N. Maskelyne reminisces.
– And have you seen . . . this electric window figure, now also on video.
To see all the other e-news, click on Website e-news.

Impossible dovetail joint

Impossible dovetail joint

This is an example of an impossible object, so called because there appears to be no way to separate the two pieces, or even put the two wooden pieces together in the first place. There is a dovetail joint on all four sides. Presumably the box is a take apart puzzle because there is something that shakes inside. It is possible that this has to be manipulated into a position that allows the two pieces to be separated. Unfortunately the pieces have probably warped, making them stick together so tightly that the solution for a puzzle of this type does not work. The curator of this website would be very pleased to hear from anyone who is familiar with this puzzle and knows the secret of how to separate the two pieces.

Impossible joint by Wil Strijbos

Impossible joint by Wil Strijbos

This is an example of an impossible object, so called because there appears to be no way to separate the two pieces. To make the puzzle harder, a magnetic lock is inside and it has to be released before the silver and green parts can be separated. Because the idea of this puzzle is to take it apart, people interested in mechanical puzzles also classify this as a Take Apart Puzzle.

Impossible joint by Wil Strijbos

Impossible joint by Wil Strijbos

This is an example of an impossible object, so called because there appears to be no way to separate the two pieces of metal. To make the puzzle harder, a magnetic lock is inside and it has to be released before the silver and green parts can be separated. Because the idea of this puzzle is to take it apart, people interested in mechanical puzzles also classify this as a Take Apart Puzzle.

Unusual impossible dovetail by Richard Parkins

Unusual impossible dovetail by Richard Parkins

Most impossible dovetail joints have a dovetail on each of four sides, with each dovetail pointing in the same direction, such as for N3164. This one is different because the dovetails point in opposite directions. It was designed and manufactured by Richard Parkins using his own 3D printer. It is made of plastic and has ‘John Davenport’ on the black face. The solution is quite different to the one that allows N3164 to be taken apart. Because the idea of this puzzle is to take it apart, people interested in mechanical puzzles also classify this as a Take Apart Puzzle. The puzzle was a gift from Richard in 2016.

Puzzle Chinese ball

Puzzle Chinese ball

This ball consists of separate, perforated balls inside one another. It is an example of an impossible object, so called because the puzzle is ‘How is it made?’. The material may be powdered bone in resin or a type of plastic.

Puzzle Chinese ball made  in stone

Puzzle Chinese ball made in stone

This ball consists of four separate, perforated balls inside one another, with a marble sized ball in the centre. It is an example of an impossible object, so called because the puzzle is ‘How is it made?’. It was purchased new in Taipei, Taiwan.

Three different impossible dovetail joints by Wil Strijbos

Three different impossible dovetail joints by Wil Strijbos

These three metal puzzles are good examples of impossible dovetail joints. This is a type of impossible object, so called because there appears to be no way to separate a dovetail joint which consists of a dovetail on all four sides. The amazing thing about these puzzles is that, although they are outwardly identical, internally the geometries are completely different. They require different solutions to open them. The second illustration which appears when you click View Details will reveal the solutions, so don’t click before you’ve tried to think of potential solutions. To make each puzzle harder, a magnetic lock is inside and it has to be released before the two parts of the puzzle can be separated. Because the idea of these puzzles is to take them apart, people interested in mechanical puzzles also classify these as Take Apart Puzzles. Wil Strijbos is a clever puzzle designer and manfacturer from The Netherlands.

Arrow Through Apple impossible object

Arrow Through Apple impossible object

This is an impossible object, the puzzle being ‘How was it made?’. The arrow is one piece of wood and is much too wide to be pushed through the small holes in the glass apple. The object was a gift from David Springett.

Arrow Through Bottle impossible object

Arrow Through Bottle impossible object

This is an impossible object, the puzzle being ‘How was it made?’. The arrow is one piece of wood and is much too wide to be pushed through the small holes in the glass bottle. The object was a gift from David Springett. To see how he made it refer to his book ‘Woodturning Wizardry’. The book was first published in 1993 by Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd, Lewes, East Sussex.

Impossible joint by Wil Strijbos

Impossible joint by Wil Strijbos

This is a type of impossible object, so called because there appears to be no way to separate the two pieces. To make the puzzle harder, a magnetic lock is inside and it has to be released before the two metal parts of the puzzle can be separated. Wil Strijbos is a clever puzzle designer and manfacturer from The Netherlands. Because the idea of this puzzle is to take it apart, people interested in mechanical puzzles also classify this as a Take Apart Puzzle.

Sandfield Dovetail and-a-Half Puzzle

Sandfield Dovetail and-a-Half Puzzle

This puzzle was designed by Robert E. Sandfield and crafted by Perry McDaniel. It is a good example of an impossible dovetail joint. This is a type of impossible object, so called because there appears to be no way to separate a dovetail joint which consists of a dovetail on all three sides. To make the puzzle harder, a magnetic lock is inside and it has to be released before the two parts of the puzzle can be separated. Complete with instructions. The puzzle was purchased from H & R Magic Books at the Magic Collectors’ Association Weekend, Schaumburg, 1996. It came in a black draw string bag with ‘Sandfield Dovetail and a half’ on a piece of wood attached to the string. Because the idea of this puzzle is to take it apart, people interested in mechanical puzzles also classify this as a Take Apart Puzzle.