Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

 

 
The Buddha Papers and the Fold and Switch Effect
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of these two traditional paperfolds both of which provide a simple eway of switching one small object for another using paper folding. 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.

The Buddha Papers is nowadays the established name for a magical effect which, in its current form, consists of a set of simple nested envelopes made from folding paper, each smaller than the one before. An object placed in the smallest envelope, which is then folded up inside the next smallest, which is then folded up inside the largest (a nest typically, though not necessarily, consists of three envelopes) is then found to have vanished or changed into something else when the procedure is reversed and the smallest envelope unfolded. Magicpedia states that the name "Buddha Papers" began appearing in magic catalogs by the 1930s, but that the effect has also been called "The Witched Paper","Buddha Money Mystery", "The Hindoo Paper Packet Trick", "Bengali Papers", "Hindu Magic Papers", and the "E-Z Money Vanisher".

The Fold and Switch Magical Effect is my own name for a simpler effect which appears to have no established name in magical circles.

The Fold and Switch Effect

The earliest publication of this effect that I know of is in 'The discoverie of witchcraft' by Reginald Scot, Esquire, first published in 1584 in a section which also describes the Buddha Papers effect.

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The effect also appears in the second edition of 'Hocus Pocus Junior', published in London in 1635. I have not been able to ascertain if it also appeared in the first edition of 1634, although this seems likely.

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The effect is also found in the eleventh edition of 'Hocus Pocus' by Henry Dean, published in Philadelphia in 1795. I have not been able to ascertain if it also appeared in the first edition of 1722, published in London, although this seems likely.

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The Buddha Papers

The earliest publication of this effect that I know of is also in 'The discoverie of witchcraft' by Reginald Scot, Esquire, first published in 1584, and immediately follows the description of the Fold and Switch Effect.

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The effect is also found in the eleventh edition of 'Hocus Pocus' by Henry Dean, published in Philadelphia in 1795. I have not been able to ascertain if it also appeared in the first edition of 1722, published in London, although this seems likely.

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A version of the effect appears in 'Hanky Panky' by W H Cremer, Jun, which was published by John Camden Hotten in London in 1872.

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Reference to a version of the Buddha Papers appeared in 'Bright and Happy Homes' by Peter Parley, Jr, which was published in Chicago and New York by Fairbanks, Palmer and Co in 1882. My thanks to David Shall for this information.

No illustration yet available.

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A version of the effect from a 3x3 square appears under the title olf 'Magic Purse' in 'Paper Magic' by Will Blyth, which was first published by C Arthur Pearson in London in 1920.

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A version which used the improved method of nesting wrappers under the title of 'The Spirit Communication' appears in 'Houdini's Paper Magic', which was published by E P Dutton and Company of New York in 1922.

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A version of the effect, which is used to swap a dime for a quarter, appears in an article titled 'Tricks and Twists with Paper', written by Sam Brown, in the February 1928 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine.

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