Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

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The Cut and Fold Windmill
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the Cut and Fold Windmill. 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 (at least) two entirely different folded paper windmill designs. To distinguish between them I call them the Cut and Fold Windmill and the uncut Windmill.

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There is mention of a paper windmill on page 83 of 'The Mottoes and Commentaries of Friedrich Froebel's Mother Play', published by D Appleton and Company, New York in 1895, which is a rendering into English of a work by Froebel first published in German in 1844. The English text contains the sentence 'Hearing the sound, out runs a little boy with his paper windmill. It turns faster and faster as he increases his speed.' This would seem to be a description of the Cut and Fold Windmill which works much better as an action toy than the uncut version.

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'Froebel's Occupations', written by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith and published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, of Boston and New York in 1896 includes the observation 'In the firelit winter evenings, before the days of the useful (and ugly) match, our grandmothers folded dainty lamplighters ... and when the pretty work was over, marvellous paper boats and boxes and windmills were fashioned for the expectant audience. Many times in the quiet home-life of the German peasant Froebel ... saw parents and children united in this simple art ...' Unfortunately we cannot know which design of paper windmill is being referred to here.

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There is a drawing of the Cut and Fold Windmill in Eleenore Heerwart's 'Course of Paperfolding', published in London in 1895.

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Diagrams for the Cut and Fold Windmillcut paper windmill are included in Paper Magic by Will Blyth, published by C Arthur Pearson in London in 1923.

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The uncut version appears in Fun with Paper Folding by Murray and Rigney, published by the Fleming H Revell Company, New York in 1928.

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In her 'Paper Toy Making', published in London by Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd in 1936, Margaret Campbell included both designs, entitling the uncut version 'Windmill' and the cutand fold version 'Revolving Windmill'.