Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

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Paper Hats
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of wearable folded Paper Hats. 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.

There are several kinds of traditional folded paper hats but their folding sequences all seem to be derived from one or other stage of the folding sequence for the traditional Paper Boat. This does not necessarily mean that the designs are of equal antiquity.

Historical information about the Soldier's Cap can be found on the page devoted to the Waterbomb, to which it is closely related.

The Carpenter's, Printer's or Pressman's Hat

The following information is taken from an on-line article by Kathryn Kane 'The Rise of the Paper Hats' (https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/the-rise-of-the-paper-hats/). The article states that 'There is some evidence that paper hats were first worn in the last few years of the eighteenth century, quite probably by men working in the carpentry trades, almost certainly in London. By the turn of the nineteenth century, they had become common headwear for men in a number of trades which involved a high level of manual labor, and their use was expanding across the country. By the Regency, these paper hats were worn by men working not only in the carpentry and woodworking trades, but also by paper-stainers, chandlers, braziers, glass blowers, house painters, printers and paper-makers, among others.' 'Though paper was still fairly expensive during the Regency, prices were lower than they had been in the eighteenth century since more parts of the paper-making process were becoming mechanized. Despite the fact that paper was no longer a very labor-intensive, fully hand-made product, it was still made almost completely of linen rags until several decades after the Regency came to a close. Paper made of 100% linen is extremely strong and flexible, therefore hats made from it would be quite sturdy'. 'Some craftsmen may have folded their own paper hats. However, there is tantalizing evidence that these special hats were available for sale, ready-made ... There are no advertisements in period newspapers which have been found from hatters offering paper hats for sale. However, there are a few advertisements from upscale hat-makers in which they specifically state, "No Paper Hats Sold."' 'It must be noted that the paper hats made during the Regency were probably not made from newspapers, as were the later pressmen’s hats ... these hats were made of plain white paper, without any printing.'

The article is worth reading in its entirety but it is a shame that detailed sources are not given, although in reply to a comment the author states that her source was 'Occupational Costume in England: From the Eleventh Century to 1914' by Phillis Cunnington and Catherine Lucas. I have not been able to locate a copy of this book or check the details of the information given in the article.

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An oil painting by John Hill, dated around 1800, in the collection of the Tate Gallery in London, shows two carpenters in a workshop wearing paper hats. The picture is titled ‘Interior of the Carpenter's Shop at Forty Hill Enfield'.

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In The Workbench Book, by Scott Landis, there is an illustration which reproduces an 1816 painting by G. Forster of an English woodworking shop. Two of the carpenters in this painting are wearing paper hats, which in this case have not been flattened at the top.

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The frontispiece to G. A. Siddon's 1833 book 'The Cabinet Maker's Guide' also shows carpenters wearing paper hats.

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In the opening paragraph of her novel 'Adam Bede', first published in 1859 but set in 1799, George Eliot wrote, ' In his tall stawaltness, Adam Bede was a saxon, and justified his name; but the jet-black hair, made more noticeable by its contrast with the light paper cap, and the keen glance of the dark eyes ...' and in the next paragraph describes Adam's brother Seth, stating that 'He has thrown off his paper cap, and you see that his hair is not thick and straight ...'

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This 1872 illustration by John Tenniel, now held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, for the Lewis Carroll poem 'The Walrus and the Carpenter' shows the carpenter wearing a paper hat, as do several other illustrations by Tenniel for the same poem.

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A cartoon of a carpenter wearing a paper hat appeared in the magazine Punch of November 23rd 1878. (Information from Juan Gimeno)

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I do not know when instructions for making a carpenter's hat were first formally published.

The Newspaper Hat

The first evidence I know of for this design occurs in a print in the French magazine 'La Caricature' no 109 of 6 December 1832.

The figure to the immediate left of the central monument at the back of the ring of dancers is wearing a newspaper hat. The print also shows six cocottes on top of the monument. My thanks to Juan Gimeno for this information.

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A newspaper hat also appears in a painting by Antonio Maria Esquivel which is in the Museo del Romanticismo in Madrid and can be dated to 1843. It is a self-portrait with his sons Carlos and Vicente.

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Another early drawing of a newspaper hat appears in an illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen (1820-1859) which was published in the 1849 2nd Edition of Hans Andersen's tales. Information also from Juan Gimeno.

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A Newspaper Hat is shown in one of the illustrations in 'Every Little Boy's Book', which was published by Routledge, Warne and Routledge in London in 1864, although instructions for making the hat are not included in the book.

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A Newspaper Hat is found in another John Tenniel illustration, this time for Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There', first published in 1871. The illustration shows Alice in a railway carriage sitting opposite a man wearing a white paper suit and a Newspaper Hat. According to Martin Gardner (in 'The Annotated Alice, 1998, p.218) the fact that the man is dressed in white paper is a political joke. He believes that Tenniel’s illustration shows a cartoon of Benjamin Disraeli and that Tenniel may have had in mind the ‘white papers’ (official documents) with which such statesmen are surrounded. Before he illustrated the Alice books, Tenniel had once portrayed Disraeli in a Government White Paper suit. However, Michael Hancher, writing in 'The Tenniel Illustrations to the ‘Alice’ Books, 1985' disputes this identification as the man in white paper does not have the obvious chin or goatee, which are normally present in Tenniel’s caricatures of Disraeli. Source: http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/resources/analysis/picture-origins/

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A Newspaper Hat, provided with a pleated cockade, appears in 'Des Kindes Erste Beschaftigungsbuch' by E Barth and W Niederley, which was first published in Bielefeld and Leipzig, and the foreword of which is dated October 1876.

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A version of the Newspaper Hat, here titled 'The Soldier's Hat' and made by the unusual method of folding one flap forward and one flap back, the method by which the Mitre is made, appears in part two of 'The Kindergarten Guide' by Maria Kraus Boelte and John Kraus, which was probably first published by E. Steiger and Company in New York in 1882.

The section from which this picture comes is introduced with the words 'The oblong is also used for paper-folding. Most of the Forms of Life derived from it were known before the days of our grandfathers.'

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The first volume of 'La Science Amusante' by Tom Tit (real name Arthur Good), which was published in Paris by Librairie Larousse in 1890 included an illustration of an optical illusion featuring a Newspaper hat.

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An illustration of a Newspaper Hat appears 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.

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The Newspaper Hat also appears in 'Pleasant Work for Busy Fingers' by Maggie Browne, which was published by Cassell and Company in London in 1896. This book is an English version of 'Des Kindes Erste Beschaftigungsbuch'.

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'What Shall We Do Now?, by Edward Verral Lucas and Elizabeth Lucas, which was published by Frederick A Stokes Company in New York in 1900, contains diagranms for the Newspaper Hat under the title 'A Cocked Hat'..

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The Newspaper Hat and a simple variation called 'Le Bonnet de Police' appear in 'Le Livre des Amusettes' by Toto, which was published in Paris by Charles Mendel in 1899.

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A Newspaper Hat is also illustrated in 'Die Frobelschen Beschaftigungen: Das Falten' by Marie Muller-Wunderlich, which was published by Friedrich Brandstetter in Leipzig in 1900.

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A version of the Newspaper Hat with the sides folded up to improve the shape appeared as 'The Soldier's Hat' in 'Paper Magic' by Will Blyth, which was first published by C Arthur Pearson in London in 1920. This variation is derived from the folding sequence for the Paper Boat. As far as I know this is the first time it appears in the historical record.

This book also contains a second variation, the Army Forage Cap, in which only part of the corners are turned down after the first fold has been made..

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As 'A Paper Hat' in 'Winter Nights Entertainments' by R M Abraham, which was first published by Constable and Constable in London in 1932

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The Pyramidal Hat

The earliest diagrams that I am aware of for the Pyramidal (or possibly Pyramidical) Hat occur in The Boy's Own Toymaker' by Ebenezer Landells which was published in 1859 by Griffin and Farran in London and Shephard, Clark and Brown in Boston.

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'Un million de jeux et de plaisirs' by T de Moulidars, which was first published in 1880 and subsequently republished under the title 'Grande encyclopédie méthodique, universelle, illustrée, des jeux et des divertissements de l'esprit et du corps' contained diagrams for a pyramidal hat under the name 'Le Chapeau du Gendarme' ...

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... and thius design also appears in 'Cassell's Complete Book of Sports and Pastimes', published in 1882, the paperfolding section of which was based on Moulidars book.

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A hat of this kind appeared in a satirical cartoon of General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, on page 202 of the magazine Punch Vol. 85 of 27 October 1883. (Information from Juan Gimeno)

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A variation of the Pyramidal Hat called 'Casquette Moyen Age' (Medieval Hat) appears in 'Le Livre des Amusettes' by Toto was published in Paris by Charles Mendel in 1899.

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A Pyramidal Hat is also illustrated in 'Die Frobelschen Beschaftigungen: Das Falten' by Marie Muller-Wunderlich, which was published by Friedrich Brandstetter in Leipzig in 1900.

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