Work and Play = Workday Plan

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

How does one manage the motivation to toil and the impulse to enjoy the daily grind?  This is a paradox I sometimes ponder in a profession that both demands focus and offers diversion.  As a child of the Mary Poppins era, I still believe that “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”  As a librarian at Hagley, I often find the job’s a game.1

Most people miss out on opportunity, as noted in Thomas Edison’s day, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.2  Recently, a cataloging opportunity came my way wrapped in black cardstock and looking like wordplay.  Curious, I rolled up my sleeves and dug in.  Issued by Pentagram Design in the tradition of a holiday greeting for 2010, the item arrived via the library of the Industrial Designers Society of America.  Entitled See Opposite, the 28-page art booklet presents twelve examples of the antigram:  one word or phrase that can form an opposite word or phrase, using all of the very same letters.

Antigram appears on the left page as a verbal clue to its opposite, pictured on the right.

Take, for example, the tenth antigram, “DIPLOMACY.”  Accompanied by an image of Alice in Wonderland’s tea party, its clue reads:  “Crazy approach (two words).”  A silhouette of the Mad Hatter in the foreground alludes to the solution, “MAD POLICY.”

Working my way through a dozen word puzzles affirms for me that “play is our brain's favorite way of learning,” one of many compelling quotes compiled by the ultimate play destination, The Strong.3  Indeed, tensions between trial and error, risk and reward, ideas and actions spin some of the common threads that weave into stories that unfold here at Hagley on the history of innovation in America.

The value of play in education infuses a trove of board games and instructional kits that our library acquired from the Institute for Financial Literacy.  See Opposite inspires me to introduce five of these units to you as antigrams.  Thanks to a web-based tool, the Anagrammar Anagram Generator, the process is a snap.  Each antigram and clue paired below is solved in a link.  We invite you to follow each one to further information on these new titles in our online catalog.

Antigram:  EXCHANGE ACT.  Clue:  Players give and take coins to reach a target value. 

Antigram:  I HOPE ANNEXATION AILS US.  Clue:  U.S. students explore the 1803 land deal with France. 

Antigram:  POOR GARDENS.  Clue:  ING Bank nurtures financial literacy in Turkish school children. 

Antigram:  TYRANTS TEND DAMP NOISEMAKERS.  Clue:  Moms and dads teach youngsters how to save, share, and spend cash. 

Antigram:  SOME INCOME WASTE ALLOWED.  Clue:  Board game requires shrewd financial choices to secure an ideal retirement. 


  1.  “A Spoonful of Sugar,” The Sherman Brothers Wiki, accessed September 14, 2021,
  2.  “Opportunity Is Missed Because It Is Dressed in Overalls and Looks Like Work,” Quote Investigator, August 13, 2012,
  3.  “Play Quotes,” The Strong National Museum of Play, accessed September 14, 2021,

Alice Hanes is the Technical Services Librarian at Hagley Museum and Library.