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The Haberdasher's Puzzle

Answer :

The illustration will show how the triangular piece of cloth may be cut into four pieces that will fit together and form a perfect square. Bisect AB in D and BC in E; produce the line AE to F making EF equal to EB; bisect AF in G and describe the arc AHF; produce EB to H, and EH is the length of the side of the required square; from E with distance EH, describe the arc HJ, and make JK equal to BE; now, from the points D and K drop perpendiculars on EJ at L and M. 
If you have done this accurately, you will now have the required directions for the cuts.

I exhibited this problem before the Royal Society, at Burlington House, on 17th May 1905, and also at the Royal Institution in the following month, in the more general form:—"A New Problem on Superposition: a demonstration that an equilateral triangle can be cut into four pieces that may be reassembled to form a square, with some examples of a general method for transforming all rectilinear triangles into squares by dissection." 

It was also issued as a challenge to the readers of the Daily Mail (see issues of 1st and 8th February 1905), but though many hundreds of attempts were sent in there was not a single solver. 
Credit, however, is due to Mr. C. W. M'Elroy, who alone sent me the correct solution when I first published the problem in the Weekly Dispatch in 1902.

I add an illustration showing the puzzle in a rather curious practical form, as it was made in polished mahogany with brass hinges for use by certain audiences. 
It will be seen that the four pieces form a sort of chain, and that when they are closed up in one direction they form the triangle, and when closed in the other direction they form the square.




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