The Public Paperfolding History Project

Main Index Page

Last updated 7/4/2024


Household Words Volume XII of 13th October 1855

Page 242 of Charles Dickens magazine 'Household Words' of 13th October 1855 contains the following passage which references the folding of head-dresses, napkins and Troublewit.

'go to Bordeaux, and cleanse the outside of your platter; also, if it be your pleasure to behold gipsy-like women wearing extraordinary head-dresses, composed of a sort of shawl-handkerchief, folded in a way to defy all fraud, forgery, or imitation whatever. No need to ticket them with "Beware of counterfeits." No need to apply to the vice-chancellor for an injunction to prevent plagiarism in the present case. The head-gear is as perfect a puzzle as the napkin-folding mysteries of certain steamboat-stewards and restaurants, or the paper-folding feats of ambulant street conjurors.'

The author of the article is not stated but it is thought to have been written by Edmund Saul Dixon, who was born in Norwich in 1809 and seems to have lived largely in England until 1842, when he moved to Guīnes, in the Pas-de-Calais, where he died in 1893. We cannot therefore be certain whether the 'ambulant street performers' he refers to were seen in England or France, though since we know from other sources that Troublewit was performed as a street entertainment in London around this time, that is probably the likeliest place for the author to have witnessed it.