Starting in 1890, the German firm Richter produced a series of Tangram puzzles which were widely distributed during the First World War, or The Great War as it was then called, as a pastime for the troops in the trenches. With the pieces consisting of stone, they could survive in the horrible environment. They were used by both German and British troops.
The puzzles came together with sheets with exercises, which have been compiled by Jerry Slocum, one of the worlds greatest puzzle collectors. He published the exercises in a book, which you can order here. The firm stated that some of the problems have been contributed by the troops.
The anchor factories are now owned by Goki.
I recently purchased a series of anchor stone puzzles at internet-toys.com (Another supplier is http://www.padilly.com/brainteasers.html). Their delivery was speedy and accurate, and they have low prices. The puzzles arrived within a few days, though of course I can not vouch for delivery times in the rest of the world.
The puzzles are still made of stone, and below you find pictures of the once I obtained. Currently they do not offer the full range. The ones they do offer are in bright green, yellow, blue and red. The back of the cardboard boxes do mention Anker Steinbaukasten GmbH. There are no names of the individual cardboard boxes. Some of the boxes carry a number of puzzles on the inside of the box, some don’t. None had a solution, and the drawings on the cover do not match the inside arrangement of the pieces. This, the boxes state, is on purpose: no clue is given away. You did want to puzzle, did you?
There are 3 historical puzzles, which in “Puzzles old and new” by Jack Boterman and Jerry Slocums are called Zornbrecher, Wunderei / Ei des Columbus (I don’t see much difference between these two in their book) Herzratsel and Kreisratsel. These are the ones that come with the 10 exercises on the inside of the box.
The big surprise for me are the other puzzles: The do not seem to match any of the traditional Anker puzzles. At internet toys they are labelled maan, dennenboom, ster en kruis in Dutch, which translates into English as moon, pine, star, and cross.
Expect some exercises in the future with these new puzzles, though the usage of non rectangular shapes may cause some troubles in this endeavor. For the moment, here are the puzzles:
New puzzles are published at least twice a month on Fridays. Solutions are published after one or more weeks. You are welcome to remark on the difficulty level of the puzzles, discuss alternate solutions, and so on. Puzzles are rated on a scale of 1 to three stars.