6
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Ben stared in dismay at the hundreds of bits of paper scattered around his room. This was going to be a lot of work.
His brother waltzed in and picked up a larger sheet.
"Watchya doin' writin' about toilet paper?" he asked.
"It's not about toilet paper," replied Ben. "It's a puzzle."

Primary puzzle goal: identify the mechanism.
Secondary puzzle goal: complete the following equations by filling in the missing digits.
For the second part (digits), there is an intended/best solution, but other interesting solutions are accepted, as the "math" is not precise. (Personally I only found one good solution for each, but leaving this disclaimer just in case).

  • 5122 + 4454 = 4470
  • 4847 + 1241 = 2440
  • 4192 + 5077 + 4735 = 3912
  • 740 + 2475 = 2280
  • 614 + 548 + 4550 = 233
  • 1562 + 4437 = 4???
  • 1932 + 2938 = 2???
  • 2404 + 73 = 2???
  • 1504 + 5032 = ???

Hint 1:

Dilbert

Hint 2:

It is perfectly normal for this situation to occur. My room is also sometimes covered in tiny bits of paper. Why? And why is his name Ben?

Hint 3:

Ben is number one. He is also an American.

Hint 4:

Oh

Hint 5:

The key to solving this puzzle hinges upon a single word. The word is hidden in some fairly obvious places, though it itself is not so obvious. The word is NOT Ben, Sheet, Paper, or any other word in this puzzle; neither does it contain an 'A'.

Hint 6:

The topic is clued by the body and Hint 2. It is simple and well known by everyone, not nearly as esoteric as the two suggestions given in comments.
If you find the topic, you will immediately find yourself looking for something else, something very specific and "mathematical". For that, look to the title (or any or all of the other hints; they are redundant). The title is less useful for non-Americans, thus I offered some alternate hints.

Hint 7:

Topic: You wouldn't lick toilet paper, but...
Enumeration: The title refers to a specific American brand name

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5
  • $\begingroup$ Just want to see if I'm on the right track.. rot13(qbrf guvf unf gb qb jvgu Ze S naq uvf ZF'f. Vs vg vf, lbh'yy trg vg. Vs vg'f abg arire zvaq) $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2021 at 12:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @prim3numbah rot13: V guvax V xabj jub lbh zrna, naq ur vf snzbhf sbe n ybg bs bgure guvatf. Fb unys evtug. $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Oct 1, 2021 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ Disclaimer to puzzlers: Unless you are one of the minority of people familiar with this topic, I fully expect and am okay with you using google sleuthing to find the answer, in combination with some deduction. If google sleuthing is not your cup of tea, check out my other puzzles which are more accessible based on common knowledge. $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Oct 4, 2021 at 4:06
  • $\begingroup$ rot13( Qbrf vg unir nalguvat gb qb jvgu guvf fvghngvba? uggcf://jjj.aru.tbi/negvpyr/orawnzva-senaxyva-naq-cnzcuyrg-jnef) ? $\endgroup$ Oct 13, 2021 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ Evtug crefba, jebat gbcvp $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Oct 13, 2021 at 13:21

1 Answer 1

9
$\begingroup$

The mechanism is

to combine elements, words, or ideas, of postage stamps by their Scott Catalogue number.

5122 + 4454 = 4470

Cat + Dog = Garfield and Odie

4847 + 1241 = 2440

Heart + Birds = Birds on Heart

4192 + 5077 + 4735 = 3912

Mickey Mouse + (planet) Pluto + Cake = Mickey, Pluto, and Cake

740 + 2475 = 2280

Yosemite + Flag = Flag over Yosemite

614 + 548 + 4550 = 233

Ship + Ship + Ship = Fleet of Columbus

1562 + 4437 = 4???

= 4193
Peter (Francisco) + (Liberty) Bell = Peter (Pan) and (Tinker) Bell
It definitely helped (good puzzle design) that the first stamp we had to come up with on our own was one that we had already seen in the same sheet as Mickey in a previous equation.

1932 + 2938 = 2???

= 2046
Babe (Zaharias) + Ruth (Benedict) = Babe Ruth (the Sultan of Swat, the King of Krash, the Colossus of Clout, the Colossus of Clout, the Great Bambino)

2404 + 73 = 2???

= 2592
Washington (state) + Andrew Jackson = George Washington and Andrew Jackson

1504 + 5032 = ???

= 292
Rural America with Angus Cattle + Blue Geometric Snowflake = Cattle in Snowstorm

The hint "Ben is number one. He is also an American."

Benjamin Franklin fought against the Stamp Act and appeared on the first American postage stamp.

"Toilet Paper Math", Dilbert, and "What a tangled web we weave" hint at

Scott toilet paper brand, Scott Adams, and Sir Walter Scott, which all lead us to the Scott Catalogue

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3
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is a good start! Solving the 4192 line may help with part 2 (filling in the blanks) as there is a slight complicating factor in some of the equations. If you get stuck, you can always consult a mystic. $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Oct 27, 2021 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ Excellent work! The last one is considered by many to be one of the finest U.S. stamps ever made. If it's not found in a week I'll add in the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Amoz
    Oct 28, 2021 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ Is the last one Onor gur oyhr bk by any chance? $\endgroup$
    – Ed Murphy
    Oct 29, 2021 at 6:12

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