The Public Paperfolding History Project

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Index Page Dipping A Toe in the Water Sources Topics and Indexes Individual Designs Paperfolding People

The 1885 engraving of the Flapping Bird

  The main body of this part of the site is divided into four sections:

The Sources pages contain information relating to books, articles in newspapers and magazines, illustrations, exhibitions, and historical survivals, that are the raw material of paperfolding history.

The Topics and Indexes pages contain information about topics extracted from the Source pages. They also act as indexes to help you find information about an individual design you may be interested in.

The Individual Design pages contain information about individual designs (or in some cases a number of closely related designs that it is sensible to record together)

The Paperfolding People pages contain information about historically important paperfolders.

You can get a feel for the kind of information you will find on this site by Dipping a Toe in the Water, which I hope will encourage you to wade in further.

There are also three useful overviews:


About the Public Paperfolding History Project

Information about the history of paperfolding found on the internet, and, indeed, in many published sources, is often based more on myth and imagination than on fact and scholarship. The Public Paperfolding History Project aims to collect information from verifiable historical sources from which a more reliable narrative of the development of recreational paperfolding as a whole, and of individual paperfolding styles and designs, can be shaped, and to make this information publicly available for everyone to study and enjoy.

Objects made of paper are ephemeral and the record we have of them at an early date relies largely on their chance survival or their mention or appearance in poetry, books, fabrics, drawings, prints and paintings. It is likely that many practical and recreational paperfolds are much older than the earliest evidence we have for their existence. Unfortunately, of course, we cannot know, even approximately, how much older they might actually be.

It is my intention to record everything I can discover about paperfolding history up to and including 1970 in these pages. After that date designs and publications proliferate so fast that it would be impossible, for me at least, to record them all. I have recorded some information about later events, but only where the information is relevant to the development of themes that particularly interest me, such as the history of modular origami design.

The information I have recorded is drawn from texts in Japanese, Spanish, German, Dutch, French, English and several other languages. I am only fluent in English and rely on on-line translation tools such as Google Lens for assistance. This will necessarily mean that I have made mistakes. If you find any errors or inaccuracies in these pages, or are aware of additional information, particularly early information, that I do not know of, or may have overlooked, please let me know. Some of these will have occurred because the range of information I am recording has expanded as the project has developed.

I have not generally recorded information about the use of rolled or folded paper in making fireworks or paper flowers (although I clearly ought to have done).

Some of the information I have recorded comes from my own original research. Much more of it, however, is drawn from the research of other people that has kindly been provided to me. I would particularly like to acknowledge the assistance of Juan Gimeno, Michel Grand, Masatsugu Tsutsumi, Edwin Corrie, Jaume Coll Guerrero, Koshiro Hatori, Joan Sallas, Laura Rozenberg and Coral Roma, but many other people have helped as well. It goes without saying that the late David Lister's writings on paperfolding history have also been invaluable.

David Mitchell