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.

This box subsequently appears, with instructions including the diagrams shown below, in Cassell's Complete Book of Sports and Pastimes, published in London in 1882 where it is simply called a paper box.

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