The Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library includes catalogs of almost any product, but did you know there is even a catalog with games and puzzles to play at a dinner party?
The trade catalog is titled After Dinner Tricks & Puzzles With Your Seal Brand Coffee and it is from 1896. At the bottom of the front cover, it reads, “Compliments of Chase & Sanborn.” Chase & Sanborn was a company in Boston which sold coffee. The front cover of the catalog shows a group of ladies and men sitting around a dinner table. Some of them are drinking coffee. It looks as if they are just about to try some of the tricks and puzzles from this catalog.
Imagine yourself at a dinner party in 1896. The host suggests trying some of the 36 tricks and puzzles in this catalog. Some involve just thinking and no objects, such as Number 18:
“A family dinner included 1 grandfather, grandmother, 2 fathers, 2 mothers, 4 children, 3 grandchildren, 1 brother, 2 sisters, 2 sons, 2 daughters, 1 father in law, 1 mother in law and 1 daughter in law, and yet there were only seven persons present. How can the two statements be reconciled?”
Others require both thinking and objects, such as Number 20:
“Arrange 11 biscuits in such a manner that they shall form 12 rows with three biscuits in each row.”
Are you ready for the answers?
The answers can be found on the inside front cover, shown below on the left page.
The last puzzle, explained on the left page below, involves coffee beans. It is number 36:
“Required to arrange nineteen coffee beans in such manner that they shall form nine rows of five coffee beans each.”
But, wait! Don’t look at the right page below until you are ready. The answer to number 36 can be found below on the right page.
The catalog ends with an advertisement for the coffee. The back cover shows a lady holding a can of Chase & Sanborn’s Seal Brand Coffee.