Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

 

 
The Catherine of Cleves Box
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the Catherine of Cleves box. 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 this box does not have an established name. I call it the Catherine of Cleves box because it first appears, as an incidental illustration at the bottom of a page devoted to St Agatha, in the magnificent Flemish illustrated manuscript known as the Hours of Catherine of Cleves which dates to around 1440. The box is a fold and cut design and completely unlike anything else that we know of from that date.

The pictures below show the page as a whole and the detail of the box, pictured in both folded and unfolded form, from the bottom margin.

It is not clear whether the box pictured in the illustration would have been made from paper or parchment. Both materials would have been available at this date.

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As far as I know modern diagrams for this design first appear 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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The design also 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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'The Kindergarten Principle' by Mary J Lyschinska, which was published in London in 1880 by Wm Isbister Ltd.

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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'.

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

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'Jeux et Jouet du Jeune Age' by Gaston Tissandier, which was published by G Masson in Paris in 1884. In this version slits have been cut in the side of the box so that it can be used as a cage for insects.

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'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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'Die Frobelschen Beschaftigungen: Das Falten' by Marie Muller-Wunderlich, which was published by Friedrich Brandstetter in Leipzig in 1900.

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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.

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'Paper Magic' by Will Blyth, which was first published by C Arthur Pearson in London in 1920.

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'Houdini's Paper Magic', which was published by E P Dutton and Company of New York in 1922.

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'Fun with Paperfolding' by William D Murray and Francis J Rigney was published by the Fleming H Revell Company, New York in 1928, where is is called 'The House'..

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Margaret Campbell's Paper Toy Making, first published in 1936, where the design is called the 'Closed Box'.