antedating of tangram (1855-56)

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Tue Sep 4 17:26:00 UTC 2007

OED has 1864 for this Chinese geometrical puzzle.

Sabin Americana and Google books both have (from title page):

The Lectures delivered before the American Institute of Instruction at
Bath Me.,
August, 1855, including The journal of Proceedings... (Boston: Ticknor and
Fields, 1856)
Lecture II. Geometry, the Foundation of Learning, by Thomas Hill, of Waltham,
page 38:
"The first step, scientific Geometry addressed to the eye, is taken by
presenting to the child compound forms, to be analyzed into simpler, or to be
compared by the eye only. This is best done, I think, by such apparent plays
and dissected maps and pictures, and by the more severe exercise of the
tangram, and similar devices. The finest mathematical spirits of our race have
united in attributing to the Chinese puzzle, an intellectual value far above
what might be expected from anything emanating from that stationary land;--a
land of adult children, and, therefore, foremost of the world in preparing
childish toys and amusements."

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society -

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