More Odd, Unusual, and Strange Math Problems

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, October 16, 1911: Nothing new at school or at home. Read several stories after I had worked some problems. Still have some for tomorrow though.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I wonder what type of problems Grandma was working on.  I enjoy looking at hundred-year-old math books. The problems are so different from the ones in today’s books.

I’ve previously shared some problems with you.  Here are some more odd, unusual, and strange problems from 1911:

1. If 44 cannons, firing 30 rounds an hour for 3 hours a day, consume 300 barrels of powder in 5 days, how long will 400 barrels last 66 cannons, firing 40 rounds an hour for 5 hours a day?

2. A ditch 80 yards long, 10 ft. deep, and 9 ft. wide was dug by 20 men in 12 1/2 days of 10 hours each; and a ditch 76 yards long and 12 ft. wide was dug by 30 men in 7 1/2 days of 9 1/2 hours each. How deep was the latter ditch?

3. A speculator bought 10 village lots, and gave a 4-months’ note in payment. This note was immediately discounted in the bank at 8%, and the bank discount was $192. What was the average price of the lots?

4. A druggist bought 6 pounds of quinine at $11 per pound, avoirdupois weight, and sold it in 2-grain capsules at 10 cents per dozen. What was his profit?

Kimball’s Commercial Arithmetic: Prepared for Use in Normal, Commercial and High Schools and the Higher Grades of the Common School (1911)

A hundred years ago prescriptions weren’t required and druggists made their own medicines, men actually dug ditches by hand, and labor laws about how many hours a day a person could work had not yet been enacted.

If you want to do the quinine problem–and, for some reason never had a math class that taught you the conversion factors for apothecaries and avoirdupois weights 🙂 – here is the information you need:

Apothecaries Weight

20 grains = 1 scruple

3 scruples = 1 dram

8 drams = 1 ounce

12 ounces = 1 pound

Avoirdupois Weight

16 ounces = 1 pound

In case you missed the previous posts that contained math problems, here are the links:

Odd, Unusual, and Strange Math Problems

1911 Algebra Problems: The Lusitania and Molasses

Old Math Problems

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