The story of "Butcher Boy"

The story of "Butcher Boy"

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Do you remember General Grant? For the price at which General Grant's autographs are auctioned, I am proud to say that I am the owner of what appears to be the last signature the general made. The history of that autograph introduces a very beautiful problem and, incidentally, I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the enormous mathematical ability of Ulysses S. Grant. I also take the opportunity to say here that after having walked through life and having encountered all kinds of people, I have come to the conclusion that, with rare exceptions, successful men are those who have a good arithmetic mental faculty. Then there are the ablandahigos who live in a slaughterhouse, rushing recklessly on the most important decisions. I could tell you a lot of anecdotes that would illustrate the ability of great men to calculate. But this will be enough to convince you of Grant's genius with the numbers.

Professor Agnell, a math teacher at West Point, where Grant studied and with whom I used to play chess, said that Grant had a great love for math and horses. When Grant liked a horse very much, he could capture, with a single glance, the qualities of that animal, and poor one who abused a crippled animal!

My story focuses on an incident told by an Ike Reed who worked at the old Johnson & Reed horse shop. Reed gave me Grant's autograph of his sales record book, as you can see in the drawing. One day, during the last term of his presidency, General Grant returned to his hotel from his campaign on horseback, and told the hotel regent that he had seen the butcher's car passing by at such speed, which made it look like your elite team a gang of puppies. He wanted to know who owned the horse and if it was for sale.

He found it and bought the horse from a little refined German, for half of what he would have asked for if he had known that the buyer was the president of the United States. The horse was light colored and from that moment he became the general's favorite. He called him "Butcher Boy" in memory of his meeting.

Well, several years later, after the Wall Street catastrophe, which hurt the finances of the Grant family, "Butcher Boy" and his partner were sold at the Johnson & Reed auctions for a total of $ 493.68. Mr. Reed said he could have doubled if he had been allowed to say who owned the horse. But General Grant had expressly prohibited him from making it public.

"However," Reed told Grant, "you have gained 2%, since you won 12% with Butcher Boy and lost 10% with the other horse." "I guess some people calculate that," the general replied. But by how he laughed, he showed that he was better with numbers than many people.

My question is How much did he get for each horse if he lost 10% with one and won 12% with the other, but with a 2% gain on the entire transaction?


"Butcher Boy" cost $ 264 and was sold for $ 295.68, with a 12% profit (31,68$). The other horse cost $ 220 and was sold for $ 198, with a loss of 10% (-22$). Total cost: $ 484; Total received: $ 493.68, with a total benefit of 2%.