The Public Paperfolding History Project

Back to Origami Heaven


Index Page Source Pages Topic and Individual Design Pages Paperfolding People

The 1885 engraving of the Flapping Bird


About this Project

Information about the history of paperfolding found on the internet, and, indeed, in many published sources, is often based more on myth and imagination than on fact and scholarship. The Public Paperfolding History Project aims to collect information from verifiable historical sources from which a more reliable narrative of the development of recreational paperfolding as a whole, and of individual paperfolding styles and designs, can be shaped, and to make this information publicly available for everyone to study and enjoy.

Objects made of paper are ephemeral and the record we have of them at an early date relies largely on their chance survival or their mention or appearance in poetry, books, fabrics, drawings, prints and paintings. It is likely that many practical and recreational paperfolds are much older than the earliest evidence we have for their existence. Unfortunately, of course, we cannot know, even approximately, how much older they might actually be.

It is my intention to record everything I can discover about paperfolding history up to and including 1970 in these pages. After that date designs and publications proliferate so fast that it would be impossible, for me at least, to record them all. I have recorded some information about later events, but only where the information is relevant to the development of themes that particularly interest me, such as the history of modular origami design.

The information I have recorded is drawn from texts in Japanese, Spanish, German, Dutch, French, English and several other languages. I am only fluent in English and rely on on-line translation tools for assistance. This will necessarily mean that I have made mistakes. If you find any errors or inaccuracies in these pages, or are aware of additional information, particularly early information, that I do not know of, or may have overlooked, please let me know.

Some of the information I have recorded comes from my own original research. Much more of it, however, is drawn from the research of other people that has kindly been provided to me. I would particularly like to acknowledge the assistance of Juan Gimeno, Michel Grand, Masatsugu Tsutsumi, Edwin Corrie, Jaume Coll Guerrero, Koshiro Hatori, Joan Sallas, Laura Rozenberg and Coral Roma, but many other people have helped as well. It goes without saying that the late David Lister's writings on paperfolding history have also been invaluable.

David Mitchell


The main body of this part of the site is divided into three sections:

Source Pages contain information relating to books, articles in newspapers and magazines, illustrations, exhibitions, and historical survivals, that are the raw material of paperfolding history.

Topic and Individual Design Pages contain information about topics or individual designs extracted from the Source pages. The Topic Pages also act as indexes to help you find information about an individual design you may be interested in.

Paperfolding People pages contain information about historically important paperfolders.

There are also some useful overviews:

A Brief History of Recreational Paperfolding in Western Europe and Japan until 1931

When time allows this Brief History will be expanded to include the years 1932 to 1970.

A Chronology of Paperfolding History (not fully complete at present)