Cubic Circulars by David Singmaster

Between 1981 and 1985 David Singmaster published eight issues of his "Cubic Circular". Each issue contains a wealth of information about the cube and other puzzles. Below we only reproduce the editorial comments for each issue. Those who want to read more of any of these circulars, see Jaap's Puzzle Page:

Click on a link below to go to that issue

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Issue 1
Autumn 1981
Welcome to the first issue of the CUBIC CIRCULAR. Let me begin by telling you my plans for the Circular. Primarily it will be a newsletter to distribute information on the Cube. However, there have been many new puzzles as a result of the enormous success of Rubik's Cube™, and the circular will discuss these as well.

There has been so much interest in such puzzles and other mathematical puzzles, that I have established a company to distribute them. I will use the Circular to announce interesting new products as they appear, both from ourselves and from other sources. We are always delighted to hear about new items for possible distribution and we maybe able to organise production of them. Samples, drawings, patent specifications, etc. will be gratefully received.

There has been a persistent demand for a newsletter like the Circular ever since the fifth edition of my "Notes of Rubik's 'Magic cube'" appeared in September 1980. As a consequence of the explosion of Cube mania at the beginning of 1981, I have been receiving letters at several times the rate at which I can read and reply to them. Included are manuscripts, books, computer programmes and computer printouts which can run to hundreds of pages and require weeks to study! Consequently my study is piled with unanswered correspondence and I would like to apologise to everyone who has written and hasn't yet had a reply. I am hoping that the Circular will contain the answers to some of the more standard questions and perhaps reduce the number of letters sent in by providing the answer. The Circular may also be usable as a standard response letter.

Because much recent material In my study has not yet been properly read and filed, I find myself sometimes remembering facts that I cannot relocate and so I am sometimes unable to give proper credit to the source of an idea or fact.

I am delighted to receive copies of articles on the cube or related material - but please be sure to put the date, name and place of publication on it. I would prefer an original version rather than a photocopy, if at all possible. I would appreciate it if you can include such details as the page number(s), transliteration and/or translation of the title and/or abstract of the content for articles not in English, French, German or Italian. Information on radio and TV items will also be appreciated - but again, please be as detailed as possible.

At present, I have enough material to fill several Circulars - indeed, I am presently preparing a bibliography which would fill several issues by itself! This issue contains rather less than I had intended - all technical material has been deferred. Nonetheless, I would be happy to receive short articles, news items, announcements, etc. for inclusion.

The Circular can be considered as further addenda to the fifth edition of my Notes which is now being published by Penguin. A Spanish translation of my Notes by Gilberto Torbeck is being published by Altalena Editores, Cochabamba 2, Madrid 16, Spain at 400 pesetas. A German translation by Suzanne Bischoff will soon be published by Springer-Verlag, Berlin & Heidelberg. A Dutch version is under way. We shall stock copies when they are available. References to the Notes will be in the form N5, NS3, meaning page 5 and page S-3 of the Notes. (In the American printing, pages i, ii became v, vi; pages S-1 to S-4 became 61 to 64, pages B-1 and B-2 were extended to 65 to 68 and I-1 to I-5 became 69-73). I will refer to page 2 of Circular 1 as C1-2, etc. I will use the notation of my Notes since it seems to be the most widely accepted of all notation. For typographic convenience, I will abbreviate 3×3×3 as 33, etc.

I had hoped this circular would appear in early October. Apologies for the delay. I will try to get the next circular done over Christmas.
Issue 2
Spring 1982
As usual, I am a bit behind with this. The last few months have been very hectic as David Singmaster Ltd. has gotten launched. We had a stand at the London Toy Fair, I went to the Nuremberg Toy Fair and Jane Nankivell went to the Paris Toy Fair. I counted about 50 new puzzles which will appear this year: A report on some of these will occupy most of this issue. There are many other new products which will have to wait for the next Circular.

I have spent a lot of time reorganising my bibliography and my files of material. The bibliography now has some 900 items and runs to 35 pages. And I haven't had time to enter several hundred items which were kindly passed on by Ideal Toy's public relations firm, Porter, Le Vay & Rose. As a result, I haven't gotten very far into the 500 or 1000 letters on my desk, but I think I will be able to get to them soon... The technical material on the Cube is already enough to fill another Circular, so perhaps the next one will be a bit early. Meanwhile, don't despair if your pretty pattern or one-handed upside down record isn't mentioned in this issue.

As you will see from the supplementary catalogue enclosed, we have taken on a large number of new products. We intend to stock a large range for mail order and we will emphasise products which are not widely available. If you know of an interesting product, please tell us about it. We are looking out for a shop or warehouse with display area where you will be able to come and look around.

We are developing a great range of contacts in the puzzle industry and have begun to act as agents or manufacturers for several inventors. We can either arrange to manufacture on a small scale or pass on ideas to major producers such as Mèffert or Pentangle. At the moment, this is a new area of the business and we are feeling our way, but we would be delighted to hear ideas from any readers.
Issue 3 and 4.
Spring and Summer 1982
When I started the Cubic Circular last year, I. intended to have 12 pages per issue and I wondered how I would fill them. As it turns out, material continues to arrive faster than I can deal with it or publish it, and two other magazines have started. The first two Circulars were already 16 pages and I have about 40 pages of type-script in front of me. Because of this and because the Spring issue is a bit late, we have decided to make this a DOUBLE ISSUE for Spring and Summer, i.e. issues number 3 & 4. Depending on how the material fits and on the printer, this issue will be 32 or 36 pages.

Hence this issue completes the first year of the Circular. The next issue will appear in the Autumn, probably in October or November. Because of the extra weight of larger issues, the need to employ technical assistance and the fact that circulation is still confined to a small circle of cubologists, we find the current subscription of £2.50 per year is not really covering our costs. Hence we must raise the subscription to £4.00 for the next year (or $8.00). This may be revised later but we will accept renewals now at this rate.
Do it faster!
Issue 5 and 6
Autumn and Winter 1982
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to retrenchment at David Singmaster Ltd., I am now running the Cubic Circular personally. All future correspondence should be addressed to CUBIC CIRCULAR, 87 RODENHURST ROAD, LONDON, SW4 8AF, UK. Subscription cheques should be made out to David Singmaster. Subscribe now - give a gift subscription for Christmas: Subscription rate for the second year is £4 or $8. Back issues of Volume 1 available for £3 or $6.

From July, Peter Light has been assisting me in dealing with the mass of accumulated correspondence. By now, almost everyone will have had some reply to their letters - some of which are eighteen months old! We have not had time to digest everything and there are a number of letters (e.g. in other languages) which he has not been able to deal with. We hope everything will be cleared away by the new year:

Let me urge correspondents to send stamped addressed envelopes (or at least a mailing label and a reply coupon): Also, please make sure your name and address and the date is on the contents as well as the envelope - envelopes do get separated from their contents and contents sometimes get filed in different ways.

Peter has also been testing the various computer programs which have been sent in.
Some of this Circular has been typed with 1 1/2 spacing instead of single spacing. This gives about 25% fever lines per page but is more readable. What do you think?
I would be delighted to receive contributions in the form of short articles for the Circular.

On page 3, I mention the Rubik's Cube stamps from Hungary. I have arranged to print these on the back page and the following has been transferred from there to make room for it.
Issues 7 and 8.
Summer 1985
I first started typing sections of this in Autumn 1983, when I prepared the long section on polyhedra for my geometry class. Since then I have been meaning to get around to it every few months. Unfortunately I had a massive overdose of cubism in 1982-83. David Singmaster Ltd. was closed down, and I lost a fair amount of money -more than I had made previously. This led to prolonged tax negotiations. Also I was still receiving more post than I could deal with. Indeed there is still a pile about a foot (30cm) high that I haven't got around to, as well as about 18 inches (45cm) of Xeroxes of articles that I haven't looked at yet. In addition, I was teaching several extra courses in 1983-84, including the geometry course which was being taught for the first time. I also spent a lot of time helping to rewrite a Department submission that had been rejected. I have also started on some other projects which have taken up much of my time. I will describe these below as they should be of interest.

Fortunately, I was promoted to a Readership (= Research Professorship), the first in my Faculty, as of September 1984 and this is giving me more time to get caught up. I have worked in spurts over the past year - some of you will have had answers to letters from 1983! I have spent this summer working very hard at getting caught up. I have nearly read all my unread back journals and have nearly got through all the unanswered letters on my desk, etc. If you haven't yet had an answer, hold on!

In a week, I am going to City College of New York for the Autumn term. I will not have completed answering all my post by then, but I'll probably do some more before then. If you haven't had an answer by about the time you get this, I will get to your letter when I return in January. Meanwhile, my apologies for the delay or non-response to your letters and the delay in compiling this Circular.

Published by David Singmaster, 87 Rodenhurst Road, London, SW4 8AF, UK.

Last Updated September 2023