A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
page attempts to record what is known about the origin
and history of paper fish. Please contact me if you know
any of this information is incorrect or if you have any
other information that should be added. Thank you.
As far as I know the first appearance of an origami design for a fish of any kind is in Eleonore Heerwart's 'Course in Paperfolding', which was first published in Dutch in 1895 then in English by Charles and Dible in London and Glasgow in 1896. There are no folding instructions in the English version and I do not know how this design is arrived at.
'Paper Toy Making' by Margaret Campbell, which was first published by Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd in London, probably in 1937, although both the Foreword and Preface are dated 1936, which argues that the book was complete at that date, contains a design called 'The Fish (Shark)' made from a bird base.