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 not be taken as being comprehensive. I have, however, tried to make them as accurate as possible by basing them on verifiable sources rather than myth or imagination.

A Timeline of Paperfolding History
Books and Manuscripts   Individual Designs   Topics / Biography
  Trattato delle piegature by Mattia Giegher, 1629     The Paper Banger     Froebelian Paperfolding and the Kindergarten
  The Senbazuru Orikata, 1797     The Paper Boat     Symmetrical Inkblots / Klecksography / Rorschach Test
  The Kan No Mado, 1845     The Bellows     Robert E Neale - A bibliography
  Manuel Pratique des Jardins D'Enfants de Friedrich Froebel, 1859     The Buddha Papers        
  De Kleine Papierwerkers, by Elise Van Calcar, 1863     The Business Card or Playing Card Cube        
  Cassell's Complete Book of Sports and Pastimes, 1882     The Catherine of Cleves Box        
  Course in Paperfolding by Eleenore Heerwart, 1895     Ceremonial Wrappers / Tsutsumi        
  Froebel's Occupations by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith, 1896     Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) / John Tenniel        
  Pleasant Work for Busy Fingers by Maggie Browne, 1896     The Chinese Junk        
  Paper Magic by Will Blyth, 1920     The Cicada        
  Houdini's Paper Magic, 1922     Consequences and Le Cadavre Exquis        
  More Paper Magic by Will Blyth, 1923     The Paper Cup        
  Fun with Paper Folding by Murray and Rigney, 1926     The Fifth Pig and other propaganda Fold-Ups        
  Winter Nights Entertainment by R M Abrahams, 1932     The Flapping Bird        
  Diversions and Pastimes by R M Abrahams, 1933     Paper Flights        
  Paper Toy Making by Margaret Campbell, 1936     The Blow-Up Frog        
  The Art of Chinese Paperfolding by Maying Soong, 1948     Paper Hats        
  Paper Magic by Robert Harbin, 1956     Horses and Riders        
  Meditations on a Waterbomb by Kenneth M Kawamura, 1977     The Kabuto / Japanese Helmet / Samurai Helmet / Goldfish        
          Komoso / Yakko-san        
          The Lily / Iris        
          The Lover's Knot        
          Ocho and Mecho Butterflies        
          The Orizuru or Paper Crane        
          The Pagoda        
          The Pajarita / Cocotte / Krähe / Hobby Horse        
          The Game of Paper, Scissors, Stone        
          Folded Patenbriefs / Baptismal Certificates        
          The Pig        
          Pinwheel / Puzzle Purse / Thread Container / Menko        
          The Paper Plane        
          The Salt Cellar / Fortune Teller / Cootie Catcher        
          The Sampan        
          The Sanbo        
          The Sparrow        
          The Tematebako        
          The Waterbomb and the Kettle        
          Paper Windmills