By in Humor

The Canterbury Puzzles

This is an old book (1919) which is now in the public domain. Here are some extracts.

Puzzle Joke

This may be a little hard to understand. The money is English pounds, shillings and pence. Two half pence makes one penny and twelve pennies make a shilling.

When we sit down to solve a puzzle, the first thing to do is to make sure, as far as we can, that we understand the conditions. For if we do not understand what it is we have to do, we are not very likely to succeed in doing it. We all know the story of the man who was asked the question, "If a herring and a half cost three-halfpence, how much will a dozen herrings cost?" After several unsuccessful attempts he gave it up, when the propounder explained to him that a dozen herrings would cost a shilling. "Herrings!" exclaimed the other apologetically; "I was working it out in haddocks!"

First Puzzle.

These puzzles are based on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

The Reve's Puzzle.

The Reve was a wily man and something of a scholar. As Chaucer tells us, "There was no auditor could of him win," and "there could no man bring him in arrear." The poet also noticed that "ever he rode the hindermost of the route." This he did that he might the better, without interruption, work out the fanciful problems and ideas that passed through his active brain. When the pilgrims were stopping at a wayside tavern, a number of cheeses of varying sizes caught his alert eye; and calling for four stools, he told the company that he would show them a puzzle of his own that would keep them amused during their rest. He then placed eight cheeses of graduating sizes on one of the end stools, the smallest cheese being at the top, as clearly shown in the illustration. "This is a riddle," quoth he, "that I did once set before my fellow townsmen at Baldeswell, that is in Norfolk, and, by Saint Joce, there was no man among them that could rede it aright. And yet it is withal full easy, for all that I do desire is that, by the moving of one cheese at a time from one stool unto another, ye shall remove all the cheeses to the stool at the other end without ever putting any cheese on one that issmaller than itself. To him that will perform this feat in the least number of moves that be possible will I give a draught of the best that our good host can provide." To solve this puzzle in the fewest possible moves, first with 8, then with 10, and afterwards with 21 cheeses, is an interesting recreation.

Modern Puzzle Books

If you are interested in modern puzzle books, check out


The answer can be found here , at the bottom of the page. I got this trick from VinceSummers and his puzzle here .

Image Credit » This picture is believed to be in the public domain

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VinceSummers wrote on November 5, 2022, 9:47 PM

I'm not "huge" on puzzles that are just puzzles. But puzzles solved by clues are a different matter with me. I may send you a puzzle in a while that is simplicity itself, yet very few can solve.

MegL wrote on November 6, 2022, 3:22 PM

VinceSummers , sounds interesting!