Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell


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.

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.

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.

The first published diagrams for the Paper Banger that I am aware of appear in Margaret Campbell's 'Paper Toy Making', first published in London in 1936, as the Paper 'Bomb'.

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.