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Last updated 03/01/2024


Les Recreations Scientifiques by Gaston Tissandier
'Les Recreations Scientifiques' by Gaston Tissandier was first published in Paris by G. Masson in November 1880. The contents had previously been published in 'La Nature', a magazine also founded and edited by Gaston Tissandier. The information on which this page is based was kindly provided by Michel Grand.

The book was issued in a number of editions. Material published since the date of the previous edition was often incorporated in the next. Some of the editions were widely translated into other languages. The editions mentioned below are the French originals.

The 1st Edition was issued in November 1880.

The 2nd Edition was issued in April 1881.

I have not seen the full text of the 1880 or 1881 editions but I have assumed that paperfolding material from articles in 'La Nature' published prior to November 1880 was present in both editions.

The 3rd Edition was issued in 1883. A full copy can be viewed here. The 'Avertissement' states that the 3rd Edition has been entirely redesigned and implies that it contains new material.

The 4th Edition was issued in 1884. A full copy, which includes coloured plates, can be viewed here. The 'Avertissement' contains a similar statement to that in the 3rd Edition but I believe that the material relating to paperfolding in the 3rd and 4th Editions is identical.

The 5th Edition was issued in 1888. An almost full copy can be viewed here. For some reason the Frontispiece, the engraving showing 'Le tableau magique a trois faces' was not scanned along with the rest of the book. The 5th Edition contains material relating to paperfolding which is not found in the previous editions.

The 6th Edition was issued in 1893, the 7th in 1894 and the 8th in 1897. All of these editions were identical but the material relating to paperfolding they contain does not include the Flapping Bird (or possibly the other paperfolding material new to the 5th Edition).

The material relating to paperfolding is:


In the 1st and 2nd editions

Fusion de l’étain dans une carte à joue - How to Melt Tin in a Playing Card

First published in 'La Nature' 366 of June 5th, 1880 on p. 9-10 in an article headed 'Les Physiques Sans Appareils' written by Gaston Tissandier.


Ebullition de l’eau dans un vase de papier - How to Boil Water in a Paper Pan (ie in a Junk Box)

First published in 'La Nature' 370 of July 3rd, 1880 on p. 71-72 in an article headed 'Les Physiques Sans Appareils' written by Gaston Tissandier. The box is described as 'une petite boite rectangulaire, comme les écoliers savent en confectionner' or, in English, 'a small rectangular box, which schoolchildren know how to make'.


The Jumping Bean

The wording below (present in the 3rd Edition) was added to an article describing curious effects relating to the centre of gravity of objects published in 'La Nature' 363 of 15th May 1880 on pages 380 -381 in an article headed 'Les Physiques Sans Appareils' written by Gaston Tissandier.

In English 'We can replace the puppets with a cylinder made of Bristol paper (or board), closed at both ends and containing a ball, which, when placed upright on an inclined plane descends in the same manner as the puppets.'

Since no other kind of closing is specified I have assumed that the closing of the ends of the cylinder was intended to be done by folding.


Addition material included in the 3rd Edition

Smoke Rings from a Playing Card Cube

Original article in 'La Nature' 427 of 6th August 1881 in an article headed 'Sur Les Tourbillons Annulaires Des Liquides et Des Gaz' written by Adrien Guebhard.

(This could not have been included in the 2nd Edition because of its date.)


Additional material included in the 5th Edition

Un oiseau mécanique en papier - The Flapping Bird

Original article in 'La Nature' 621 of 24th April 1885 on page 336 in an article headed 'Recreations Scientifique' and subheaded 'Un Oiseau Mécanique En Papier'. No author's name is attached to this article.


Les Anneaux Mysterieuse - The Afghan Bands

Original article in 'La Nature' 709 of 1st January 1887 in an article headed 'Recreations Scientifique' and subheaded 'Les Anneaux de Papier'. This article is attributed to Dr Z. I do not know whose nom de plume this is.


Fabrication du gaz de l'eclairage - Production of Coal Gas using a Paper Cone

Original article in 'La Nature' 605 of January 3rd, 1885 in an article headed 'Les Physiques Sans Appareils' written by Gaston Tissandier.


Le tableau magique a trois faces - Multiple Image Pleated Paper Pictures

Original article in 'La Nature' 578 of June 28th, 1884 in an article headed 'Les Recreations Scientifique' and sub-headed 'Le Tableau a Trois Faces' written by A Bergeret.