A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
page attempts to record what is known about the origin
and history of paper bangers. Please contact me if you
know any of this information is incorrect or if you have
any other important information that should be added.
Lewis Carroll's diary mentions paperfolding on several occasions. The entry for October 8th 1890 includes the words '... and the little boy Francis Epipharius (Piffy), a very bright little creature, who taught me how to fold paper pistols ...' There are three other subsequent entries which record Lewis Carroll teaching these paper pistols to other children. Unfortunately we have no evidence to tell us what these paper pistols were. It is possible that they were paper bangers, or one of the designs on the paper pistols page, or something else entirely.
The Primitive Paper Banger
In his notes on Recreations with Paper (www.foldingdidactics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2012_corrie.pdf) Edwin Corrie states that the book 'Onomatologia curiosa artificiosa et magica oder ganz natürliches Zauber-lexicon' published in 1759, which he says is an 'encyclopedic compilation from various earlier sources by multiple anonymous authors', contains instructions for several paperfolding designs including a 'primitive form of the Banger'. This primitive banger is made and performed by folding a sheet of paper in half and then in half again, grasping the middle two layers and making a sharp throwing motion with the hand.
The Double-Barrelled Banger
'De Kleine Papierwerkers 1: Wat men van een stukje papier al maken kan: Het vouwen' (The Small Paperwork 1: What one can make from a piece of paper: Folding) by Elise Van Calcar, which was published by K H Schadd in Amsterdam in 1863, contains diagrams for the double-barrelled version of the banger, under the title of 'De klapper' (the clapper).
Diagrams for the Double Barrelled Banger also appear 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.
This version of the banger also appears in 'Pleasant Work for Busy Fingers' by Maggie Browne, which was published by Cassell and Company in London in 1891. This book is an English version of 'Des Kindes Erste Beschaftigungsbuch' enhanced by the addition of a few extra designs.
A rather oversized picture of the double-barrelled version of the Paper Banger also appears in 'Die Frobelschen Beschaftigungen: Das Falten' by Marie Muller-Wunderlich, which was published by Friedrich Brandstetter in Leipzig in 1900.
It is interesting to note that in these instructions, and those in 'Des Kindes Erste Beschaftigungsbuch' pictured above, the diagonal creases are not diagonals of the central single layer, as they might be in a modern version of the design. Widening the diagonals increases the ease with which the banger can be made to fire.
The Single Barrelled Banger
As far as I know diagrams for the Single Barrelled Banger first appear 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.
This version of the banger also appears:
In 'Pleasant Work for Busy Fingers' by Maggie Browne, which was published by Cassell and Company in London in 1891. This book is an English version of 'Des Kindes Erste Beschaftigungsbuch' enhanced by the addition of a few extra designs.
As 'Tronadora' (Thunder) in 'Guia Practica del Trabajo Manual Educativo' by Ezequiel Solana, which was published by Editorial Magisterio Espaņol in Madrid in 1904.
As 'Trueno (Thunder), but also variously el tronera or tronador, in an article titled 'El trabajo manual escolar' by Vicente Casto Legua in issue 191 of the Spanish magazine 'La Escuela Moderna' for February 1907, which was published in Madrid by Los Sucesores de Hernando.
As the 'Paper 'Bomb'', in 'Paper Toy Making' by Margaret Campbell, which was first published by Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd in London, probably in 1937, although both the Foreword and Preface are dated 1936, which argues that the book was complete at that date.
A version of the single-barrelled design, made from a square, which inhibits its effective operation, appears in 'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero, which was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1939.
The single-barrelled design also appears:
As 'Petardo' in 'El Plegado y Cartonaje en la Escuela Primaria' by Antonio M Luchia and Corina Luciani de Luchia, which was published by Editorial Kapelusz in Buenos Aires in 1940.
As 'The Banger' in 'Paper Magic' by Robert Harbin, which was published by Oldbourne in London in 1956.
A Paper Pop Gun
This design, which is made from card and paper using glue, appears in 'Winter Nights Entertainments' by R M Abraham was first published by Constable and Constable in London in 1932.
A similar design appears as 'A Cracker' in 'At Home Tonight' by Herbert McKay, which was published by Oxford University Press in London, New York and Toronto in 1940.