The 18th century world of Chinese Tangram puzzles come to numismatics with Art Mint’s playable silver coin

Consisting of seven flat polygonal pieces, tangram is what is called a ‘dissection puzzle’ – one whose pieces can be recombined in different ways to form new shapes. Popularised in late-18th century China, although perhaps having its origins as early as the 11th century Song Dynasty, it rapidly spread to the West through the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where it garnered much interest.

The idea of the puzzle is to replicate a pattern using just the seven polygon blocks (Tams), and books would be sold containing hundreds of such patterns. There are well over 6,500 such examples to recreate, and there are even similar sets containing more or less pieces with their own challenges. The seven-piece set remains the traditional one, and consists of 2 large, 1 medium, and 2 small right triangles, a single square, and a single parallelogram.

Art Mint’s new two-ounce silver coin has a deep square incused on its reverse face, and the idea is to fit the seven pieces into it. You can, of course, also use the coloured wooden pieces to solve other puzzles away from the coin. The surrounding design on the coin consists of a high-relief pattern of polygons, all nicely antique finished. The obverse, handily enough, has twelve examples of patterns to replicate, placed around the central coat-of-arm of the issuer, Niue. A super little addition, that will give your brain a bit of a workout.

As you’d expect, the coin will come boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity. Each coin will be marked with a serial number, and while we can’t see it on these release images, we’d imagine it will be engraved on the smooth edge. Art Mint has a knack for coming up with some eclectic ideas for its issues, and this fits the bill perfectly. Just 200 examples will be struck, and it’s available to order now.

COMPOSITION 62.2 g of 0.999 silver
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, Seven coloured inserts