The Public Paperfolding History Project

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Lover's Knots
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of folded paper Lover's Knots. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

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1502

In the manuscript De Viribus Quantitates by Luca Pacioli, dated to around 1502, and possibly produced in collaboration with Leonardo da Vinci, contains a section headed 'To seal a letter without any wax' which includes the following wording:

'Given a rectangular sheet of paper, one is to fold it widthwise so to obtain a strip of paper. Both ends of the paper are bent in such a way to obtain a similar trapeze standing out to each side of the strip. The side of the trapeze gives the next fold, which is to be folded over until both ends are close enough that after folding them into each other they form a square shape.'

This sounds very like the Love Knot Letterfold, except with all the ends of the strip tucked in.

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1841

Vol 3: Issue 3 of the Origamian for Autumn 1963 contains an extract of a letter from John Andreas pointing put that 'Memoirs of Extra-Ordinary Popular Delusions' by Charles Mackay, published by Richard Bentley in London in 1841 contains an extract from 'Mother Bridget's Dream Book' which mentions a 'true lover's knot' folded from paper.

The relevant passages from Mackay's book are:

Unfortunately, it is not clear from these passages how the true lover's knot in question was to be folded.

Hone's 'Every-Day Book' does contain references to 'true lover's knots' but none of them specifically refer to such knots folded of paper. (There are many other kinds of true lover's knots in the literature, made from string, ribbon etc or just created as designs drawn on paper)

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The Love Knot Letterfold - 1891 onwards

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1894

A design for a complex form of the modern Lover's Knot, appears on page 731 of issue 814 of the Boys Own Paper, published on Aug 18th 1894, under the title 'How to Fold a Chinese Love-Letter'. Information from Michel Grand. The result of following these instructions is a many layered square, with a smaller square at the centre, on either side of which are two triangular flaps (marked A figure 8 above). The address - presumably the lover's name - is to be written in the central square. The instructions say that the letter is opened by pulling the flaps marked A outwards. This does begin to release the layers of the design but it is still somewhat difficult to unfold completely.

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The Lover's Knot - 1934 / 5 onwards

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1951

According to Davod Lister's article about the Lovers Knot: 'Gershon Legman ... devised a variant which he called an "Improved Lotus". It appeared in the American magic magazine, "Phoenix" in 1951.'

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