Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

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The Fold and One Cut Latin Cross / Three Crosses / Altar / Ticket to Heaven / Hell
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the fold and cut effect known as the Fold and Cut Latin Cross / Three Crosses / Altar / Ticket to Heaven / Hell and by many other names. 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.

This is one of the most interesting fold and cut designs in terms of its continued evolution throughout the years.

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As far as I know the first appearance of this effect in the historical record is in 'The Girl's Own Book' by Lydia Marie Child was published by Clark Austin and Co in New York in 1833 where it is presented as a way to make Three Crosses, rather than just one, and the other pieces are arranged to add 'blocks and superscription' to the design to form a calvary.

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A version presented as a straightforward method of creating just one latin cross appears 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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A similar version appears in 'Spielbuch fur Knaben' by Hermann Wagner, which was published by Verlag von Otto Spamer in Leipzig in 1864, although the foreword is dated May 1863, which argues that the book was complete at that date.

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A different presentation of the effect, which seems somewhat odd, appears in 'Spielbuch fur Madchen' by Maria Leske (a pseudonym of Marina Krebs), which was published by Verlag von Otto Spamer in Leipzig in 1865.

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The effect also appears as a way to cut out just a single cross in 'Hanky Panky', a book of magical effects, puzzles, recreational mathematics and other amusements, by W H Cremer, Jun, which was published by John Camden Hotten in London in 1872.

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The effect also occurrs in the new edition of 'The Boy's Own Book', 'thoroughly revised and considerably enlarged', which was published in London by Crosby, Lockwood and Co in 1880.

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In Les Bon Jeudis by Tom Tit, published in Paris in 1906 by Librairie Vuibert, the leftover pieces are arranged to make the outline of an Altar (complete with candles on either side).

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A very similar presentation of the effect appears in 'Paper Magic' by Will Blyth, which was published by C Arthur Pearson in London in 1920, under the title 'Cross of Supreme Sacrifice' which formed part of a rather jingoistic presentation entitled 'Gains of the Great War.'

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'Houdini's Paper Magic' published by E P Dutton and Company of New York in 1922, contained a section called 'Three Crosses' in which the basic method of cutting out a latin cross from a rectangle with a single cut was explained. Nothing is said about use of the varoius other pieces. The other two crosses, the Greek Cross and the Maltese Cross are obtained from a folded square in a similar way.

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An article by Keenan H Ward which included a didfferent presentation of this effect, in which the various spare pieces are arranged to form the word 'HELL', appeared in the December 1929 version of 'Modern Mechanics' magazine.

I learned of this reference from john.maloney.org/peterandpaul.htm.

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The Hell version also appeared in 'Diversions and Pastimes' by R M Abraham which was published by Constable and Constable in 1933.

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More recently someone has discovered that the various spare pieces can also be arranged to form the word 'LIFE'. I do not know the date at which this discovery was made.

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In their paper 'Fold-and-Cut Magic', included in 'Tribute to a Mathemagician', published by A K Peters in 2004, Erik and Martin Demaine describe a method of achieving a similar effect in which the cross and each of the four letters can be cut whole from a rectangle using just one cut. The method of folding the paper to achieve this is necessarily more complicated than the original effect.