The Public Paperfolding History Project

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Footsoldiers / Horses and Riders
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the designs for footsoldiers and cavalry (often known as Ross und Reiter, or, in English, as Horses and Riders). Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect, if you have any other information that should be added, or if you can contribute a more accurate translation. Thank you.

These designs appear to have been developed from the Krahe (Cocotte / Pajarita). The origin of the footsoldier design is unknown. The design of the horses is attributed to Adolf Senff (1785-1863). See entry for c1812 / 1870.


c1812 / 1870

In his book 'Jugenderinnerungen eines altes Mannes' (Youth Memoirs of an Old Man), published by Wilhelm Herz Verlag Berlin in 1870, Wilhelm von Kügelgen describes how, in about 1812, when the family were living in Dresden, his then tutor, the painter Carl Adolf Senff (1785-1863), taught him, together with his siblings Gerhard and Adelheid, and the Leipzig friends Alfred and Julius Volksmann, to fold Krahen (crows), the design now most commonly known as the Cocotte / Pajarita.

In English, very roughly, and with the omission of difficult parts, 'The most enjoyable thing that Senff taught us was the art of folding certain small triangular shapes, otherwise known as 'crows', out of paper, but when they were made, the last fold was so difficult that it could not be taught … We used to leave this accomplishment to the old master Senff for quite some time until we finally got to grips with it one by one. In the meantime, those paper figures should not, according to Senff, depict crows ... but rather soldiers, which our obedient imagination willingly accepted, since their completely indifferent form allowed any interpretation ... Through different paper colors and small changes in the folds, we now represented all branches of arms, even riders, since Senff had invented a way to change and expand those soldiers by a highly ingenious manipulation in such a way that they gained the appearance of horses... You only had to put the infantry on them. Finally, small throwing guns were made ... which were used for cannons and their bullets. I hardly knew that anything in the world had ever given me more pleasure than equipping and playing with this paper army. We gradually brought it to the enormous number of eight hundred to a thousand men ...'

According to the book 'Folding Beauty' by Joan Sallas: 'In all, 33 of the actual models ... dating back to between 1810 and 1812, are preserved in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum (German National Museum) in Nuremberg, including 16 foot soldiers, 8 riders and 9 horses from different regiments of the Royal Saxon Army.'



There are also six figures (twelve if you count horses and riders separately) in the Museum fur Sachsische Volkskunst (Saxony Folk Art Museum) in Dresden, which were probably made in about 1845. According to Joan Sallas: 'It seems likely that these were made by Wilhelm von Kügelgen for his own children, in which case the large letter “B” that appears with a crown on the saddle cloth of one of the horses may well be the initial of his son Benno.'



Pages 26 and 27 of the book 'Papier und Form' by Kurt Londenberg, which was published by Scherpe Verlag in Krefeld in 1963, contain photographs of 14 infantrymen and 7 horses and riders, presumably some of those from the collection of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, although this is not specifically stated.

The caption says they are from about 1810 and 'Presumably of Saxon origin'.



An illustration of a Horse and Rider appeared in 'A Book of Toys' by Gwen White, which was published by Penguin in 1946, although the date assigned is 18th rather than 19th century. The Introduction also implies that the figure the illustration was drawn from was in the 'London Museums', although this may also, of course, be an error.