Friday, December 14, 2012

Puzzles with no Solutions

Did you ever struggle to complete a crossword puzzle without the solution at hand? Ever hear a riddle to which no one has the answer?

That has been my fate recently. The Ladies Fashionable Repository, which I discussed in a past post, was very fond of publishing puzzles and conundrums, riddles, anagrams and charades. But, as is the way with very old journals, not all issues are available, and so I have found enigmas without resolution.

In celebration of the holiday season, however, I thought I would share these charming puzzles with you. This is the season, after all, for parlour games and jigsaw puzzles, those fiendish metal contraptions that must be separated and put back together, and a myriad of other intriguing and frustrating brain-teasers.

Our Regency counterparts enjoyed them as much as we do, and The Ladies' Fashionable Repository supplied their desire for diversion and amusement.  The puzzles I present here date from between 1809 and 1814.

Obvious questions spring to mind in considering the puzzles. How much do Regency mores and manners inform the questions? How much knowledge of the period is required for solution? In many cases I think the answer would be--a great deal.

The conundrums are quick and confusing.

The terminology of puzzling has changes somewhat in the two hundred years since these were published. Riddles appear to be much the same then as now, but rebuses seem to have a more pictorial emphasis today than in the Regency.
Regency Charades seem to be completely different from their modern counterpart unless--do you think these are meant for performance?

I found this Prize Enigma utterly mystifying and quite delightful. And, I was thrilled to find the answer in another issue of the journal, with the winner's name included!

The wonderful language above in the prize award is redolent of Jane Austen's world, and of Washington Irving's Old Christmas.

I have run on rather long, but I had to include this last item. I have not discovered the link between the Repository and Ipswich, but you will note that one of the winners of the Prize Enigma above was from that town. I wonder if the beauties of Ipswich were offended or thrilled about the puzzle below:
 And I wonder what their parents and chaperons thought of their inclusion in a widely sold publication!

I hope you enjoy pondering these puzzles. If you would like to leave a solution to any (or all) of the puzzles, I will draw from among the comments for a prize on New Year's Day. The prize will be one of Shakoriel's charming Victorian poetry prints to brighten your wall in the new year.

I will be taking a couple of weeks' holiday now, and I will return on Friday, January 4 with more Regency research and inquiry. Until then ~~

Happy Holidays!



Anne Gallagher said...

I wish I could say I was smart enough to try even one of those riddles or rhymes, but I gave up as soon as I even read them.

Happy Holidays, Lesley-Anne. I hope you have a wonderful season. See you when you get back.

Rachel Knowles said...

What great puzzles! I think I have got answers to a couple of the conundrums.
No.2 Bare skin / bear skin.
No.8 Because they are always merry
I will work on the rest!
Happy Christmas :)

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

I am like you, Anne, I gave up. I am just not good at puzzles.

Rachel--I think yours are very good solutions. I hope you come up with more. No one can prove you wrong unless they have the appropriate magazine issues! :) And thank you for your nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award--so kind.

Merry Christmas!