Each time I flip through the pages of the 1928 edition of the Book of Knowledge I discover something new and fun. In the section – Things to Make and Things to Do – I spotted…

The Problem of the Magic Square

In olden times magic squares were thought to have special virtue and were used or worn as mascots to keep off disease or bring good fortune to their possessors or wearers. The peculiar feature of a magic square it that, whether the figures in it be added up by vertical columns, by horizontal rows, or by two diagonals — that is, the sloping column from opposite corners – the total is the same in every case.

NOT a Magic Square
Can you solve the mystery of The Magic Square?

Here is a square, which is not a magic square, because the figures that make up the vertical columns, the horizontal rows, and the diagonals do not when added up, make the same totals. But by cutting the square into four pieces, and by putting these four pieces together again in a different way, a magic square is formed in which the addition of each row, each column, and each diagonal give in each case 34, neither more nor less.

This one of the interesting puzzles propounded by Mr. Henry E. Duency in his interesting book of problems, called “Canterbury Puzzles.” How can it be done?

the Canterbury Puzzles graphic

If you found this fun, then get a FREE copy of Duency’s book at Project Gutenberg.

FYI –  I have been unable for years to toss my parents set of The Book of Knowledge – The Children’s Encyclopedia. Hardly collectibles, my editions are a mishmash of volumes from 1912 to 1935. Although extremely outdated they feature beautiful illustrations, along with a healthy dose of worldly knowledge and fun stuff for children (and sometimes adults) to do.

Book of Knowledge Cover


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