Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell



The 1885 engraving of the Flapping Bird

  The history of paperfolding is a fascinating one.

This page links to a brief Timeline of Origami History and other pages collecting together more detailed historical information about some traditional designs, early manuscripts and books. There is also a bibliography of the published designs of Robert E Neale.

Folk art objects made of paper are ephemeral and the record we have of them at an early date relies largely on their chance survival or appearance in books, fabrics, drawings and paintings. It is likely that many paperfolding designs are much older than the first evidence for their existence. Unfortunately, of course, we cannot know, even approximately, how much older they might actually be.

While I have long been interested in origami history there are many paperfolders who know much more about the subject than I do and these notes should be seen as a starting point for understanding and research and not as a comprehensive guide. I have, however, tried to make them as accurate as possible by basing them on verifiable sources rather than myth or imagination.

If you find any errors or inaccuracies in these notes or are aware of important sources I have missed please let me know.

A Timeline of Paperfolding History
Main Sources   Individual Designs   Summaries /Topics / Biography
  De Viribus Quantitatis by Luca Pacioli, 1502     The Paper Ball     Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) / John Tenniel
  Trattato delle piegature by Mattia Giegher, 1629     The Paper Banger     Cut and Fold Designs
  The Senbazuru Orikata, 1797     The Paper Boat     Fold and Cut Effects
  The Girl's Own Book by Lydia Maria Child, 1833     The Bellows     Paper Rosettes / Froebel Star / German Star
  The Kan No Mado, 1845     The Buddha Papers     Overview of Froebelian Paperfolding and the Kindergarten
  Manuel Pratique des Jardins D'Enfants de Friedrich Froebel, 1859     The Catherine of Cleves Box     Simple Froebelian Folds of Life Designs
  The Boy's Own Toymaker by E Landells, 1859     Ceremonial Wrappers / Tsutsumi     Froebelian Single Blintz Folds of Life Designs
  The Girl's Own Toymaker by E Landells and Alice Landells, 1860     The Cherries Puzzle     Froebelian Windmill Base Folds of Life Designs
  De Kleine Papierwerkers, by Elise Van Calcar, 1863     The Chickenwire Letterfold     Froebelian Double Blintz Folds of Life Designs
  Hanky Panky by W H Cremer, 1872     The Chinese Junk     Froebelian Triple Blintz Folds of Life Designs
  The Kindergarten Guide by Maria Kraus Boelte and John Kraus, 1877     The Chinese Wallet / Jacob's Ladder     Froebelian Outliers
  Les Récréations Scientifiques by Gaston Tissandier, 1880     The Cicada     Letterfolds
  Un million de jeux et de plaisirs by T de Moulidars, 1880     Consequences and Le Cadavre Exquis     Modular Origami
  Des Kindes Erste Beschaftigungsbuch by E Barth and W Niederley, 1880     The One-Piece Cube     Cut and Fold Polyhedral Nets
  The Kindergarten Principle by Mary J Lyschinska, 1880     The Paper Cup     Robert E Neale - A bibliography
  Cassell's Complete Book of Sports and Pastimes, 1882     The Paper Doily     How to Cook or Boil Water in Paper Pans or Kettles
  Jeux et Jouet du Jeune Age by Gaston Tissandier, 1884     The Chain of Dolls     Making Accurate Right Angles by Folding Paper
  La Science Amusante by Tom Tit, 1890-1894     The Fifth Pig and other propaganda Fold-Ups     Percy Bysshe Shelley and his paper boats
  Paper Folding and Cutting by Katherine M Ball, 1892     The Flapping Bird     Symmetrical Inkblots / Klecksography / Rorschach Test
  Pour Amuser les Petits by Tom Tit, 1894     Paper Flights        
  Course in Paperfolding by Eleenore Heerwart, 1895     The Blow-Up Frog        
  Froebel's Occupations by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith, 1896     Paper Hats        
  Pleasant Work for Busy Fingers by Maggie Browne, 1896     Horses and Riders        
  Paradise of Childhood by Edward Wiebe, 1896     The Kabuto / Japanese Helmet / Samurai Helmet / Goldfish        
  Kindergarten Guide by Lois Bates, 1897     Komoso / Yakko-san        
  Le Livre des Amusettes by Toto, 1899     The Fold and One Cut Latin Cross / Altar / Ticket to Heaven / Hell        
  Die Frobelschen Beschaftigungen by Marie Muller-Wunderlich, 1900     The Lily / Iris        
  La Recreation en Famille by Tom Tit, 1903     The Love Knot Letterfold        
  Les Bon Jeudis by Tom Tit, 1905     The Lover's Knot        
  Paper Magic by Will Blyth, 1920     The Mitre / Pencil Case        
  Houdini's Paper Magic, 1922     Ocho and Mecho Butterflies        
  More Paper Magic by Will Blyth, 1923     The Orizuru or Paper Crane        
  Joujoux en Papier by Tom Tit, 1924     The Pagoda        
  Fun with Paper Folding by Murray and Rigney, 1928     The Pajarita / Cocotte / Krähe / Hobby Horse        
  Winter Nights Entertainment by R M Abrahams, 1932     The Game of Paper, Scissors, Stone        
  Diversions and Pastimes by R M Abrahams, 1933     Folded Patenbriefs / Baptismal Certificates        
  Paper Toy Making by Margaret Campbell, 1936     The Pentagonal Knot        
  Fun with Paper by Joseph Leeming, 1939     The Fold and One Cut Pentagram        
  Paper Magic by U F Grant, 1941     The Pig        
  The Art of Chinese Paperfolding by Maying Soong, 1948     Pinwheel / Puzzle Purse / Thread Container / Menko        
  A Bibliography of Paper folding by Gershon Legman, 1952     Paper Planes        
  Paper Magic by Robert Harbin, 1956     The Playing Card Cube        
  Meditations on a Waterbomb by Kenneth M Kawamura, 1977     The Playing Card Monk / Capuchin        
          The Salt Cellar / Pepperpot        
          The Sampan        
          The Sanbo and the Sanbo on Legs        
          The Sparrow        
          The Tematebako        
          The Waterbomb and the Kettle        
          Paper Windmills        
          The Witch's Ladder