Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

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The Paper Banger
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the traditional design known as the Paper Banger. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other important information that should be added. Thank you.

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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.

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Elise Van Calcar's book 'De Kleine Papierwerkers', which was published by K H Schadd in Amsterdam in 1863, contains diagrams for the double-barrelled version of the banger.

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Diagrams for both the single and double-barrelled versions of the modern Paper Banger 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.

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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 quite possible that they were Paper Bangers but equally possible that they may have been the two-piece pistol made from rolled sheets of paper, or something else entirely.

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Both versions of the banger also appear in '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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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.

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Diagrams for the single barrelled version of the Paper Banger appear in Margaret Campbell's 'Paper Toy Making', first published in London in 1936, as the Paper 'Bomb'.

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The earlier book 'Winter Nights Entertainment' by R M Abrahams, which was first published by Constable and Constable in 1932, contains a design called the 'Pop Gun'. I have not been able to access this book to discover whether or not this design is the Paper Banger.