AMAZING PUZZLER WITH FABULOUS ROOTS
This tap-root of the Sword-in-the-Stone legend possibly penetrates to mankind’s earliest days — when the childlike creature who could produce a cutting edge from stone became the master of all other creatures on the planet. Ages later, as the secrets of metal technology spread, the ancient cutting-edge became a Sword, “drawn” from Stone (ore, in the Bronze Age) or off an Anvil (in the Iron Age).
The “drawing forth” of metallic swords led to centuries of terror and oppression, culminating in the consolidation of competing empires under the Caesars of Rome. Hopes for a sword-producing Saviour-King survived however, among the Barbarians, who were ignorant of imperial perversions, taxation and usury, and living freer, nobler lives than the Imperial Swordsmen and subjects.
As the Era of Cruel Metal-Sword Empires drew to a close, gladiators (often captured Barbarians), compelled to kill or be killed for the enjoyment of jaded spectators, could be liberated from that deadly commitment after exceptional feats in the arena. On release, the Emperor personally awarded a simple wooden sword — symbol of liberation — earned. This coveted wooden (child’s) sword named “Rudis” (meaning “opened stone”), symbol of recognized authority to govern one’s self, incorporated and modified major themes from the ancient legend.
As the final Roman Empire collapsed (ca. 5th Century A.D.), military exploits of a shadowy personality were recorded in the British Isles. Though questions remain, many believe that this was Arthur, later King Arthur, whose existence was resurrected from Celtic folklore, and refurbished in the 13th Century.
In keeping with the legend, Arthur (Irish “Art” means stone plus “ur,” origin) derived his authority to govern others because, as a youth, he alone could draw the Sword from the Stone for them. Arthur became the name of the legendary Saviour-King who served, educated, and ennobled others.
As a symbol of fitness to govern, the fabled Sword in the Stone re-emerged in 1976 as part of the celebration of the Bicentennial of American Independence. In that year, Jim Hand of Laramie, Wyoming designed and patented his Sword in the Stone puzzler, the solution to which parallels the legendary accounts. Years later, urged by friends and excited users, Hand founded The Grail, Incorporated to make the pleasures of the wooden puzzler widely available.