The Public Paperfolding History Project

Index Page

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Money Folding / Dollar Bill Folding
 
Thids page attempts to collect together what is known about the history Money Folding, the folding of paper money.

The folding of paper money can be divided into three categories, magical effects which revolve around the value of the money being folded, designs which just make use of the shape of paper money as a useful starting point, and designs which make use of parts of the pictures or lettering, or both, printed on paper money to create a specific effect within the design.

I have not, at present, differentiated these three types of money folding on this page, not have I differentiated between the use of various currencies as folding material.

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1930s

'The Best of Origami: New Models by Contemporary Folders' by Samuel Randlett, which was published by E P Dutton in New York in 1963 and by Faber and Faber Ltd in London in 1964 contains a Preface by Martin Gardner which says:

I have not been able to independently verify this information or identify the design in question.

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1940

'Double Dollar', an effect by Jack Vosburgh in which a dollar bill is folded so that it looks like two bills, then actually becomes two, appeared in 'The Jinx' magazine, issue122, p711, in 1940. (Information from conjuringarchive.com)

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1941

'After the Dessert' by Martin Gardner, which was published by Max Holden in New York in 1941 contains a simple magical effect using a folded dollar bill.

The Curious Fold

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1940

Jinx Magic magazine no 106 contained an article by Mitchell Dyszel explaining how to fold a bow knot (ie the Lover's Knot) from a dollar bill with Washington's face in the knot. Information from Edwin Corrie.

See David Lister on The Origin Of Paper Money Folding quoting information in Gershon Legman's 'A Bibliography of Paperfolding'.

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1945

A leaflet called 'Bill Folds' by Al O'Hagan was issued by George Snyder's Magic Shop of Cleveland, Ohio in 1945.

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1949

Hugard's Magic Monthly for February 1949 contained an article about money folding by Martin Gardner explaining the Mazuma Fish, Mazuma Midget and Mazuma Mushroom folds. (Mazuma is US slang for money.)

David Lister twice referred to this article in 'The Origin Of Paper Money Folding', which can be found on the Lister List.

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'Over the Coffee Cups' by Martin Gardner was published by the Montandon Magic Co in 1949. It contains several dollar bill folding stunts / effects.

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1952

The bill folds 'Lotus and Bowtie' by Gershon Legman appeared in 'The Phoenix' issue 251 of p1003 (Information from conjuringarchive.com)

They same folds also appeared in 'The Best in Magic' by Bruce Elliott, published by Harper and Row in 1956. (Information from conjuringarchive.com)

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1956

'Paper Magic' by Robert Harbin, which was published by Oldbourne in London in 1956, contains eight designs intended to be folded from paper money and the information that:

The Bow Tie - folded from a ten shilling note (or a dollar)

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Pair of Shorts (from a banknote). Attributed to Orville Meyer, U.S.A.

In the original version Washingtons' eye appears in the crotch. Source: David Lister on The Origin Of Paper Money Folding quoting information in Gershon Legman's 'A Bibliography of Paperfolding'.

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The Double Note. Attributed to Will Goldston

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The Peacock (from a banknote)

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Pound Note Barge (a version of the Chinese Junk folded from a pound note)

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The Diamond Ring (from a banknote). By Robert Harbin with Rolf Harris.

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The Super Ring (from a banknote). By Robert Harbin with Rolf Harris.

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The Cowboy Trousers (from a banknote). By Rolf Harris.

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1958

Volume 1, Issue 2 of 'The Origamian', which was published in November 1958, in giving an account of a meeting on the afternoon of 3rd November, mentions that 'We ... learned some dollar bill folds' but does not say what folds these were or who taught them.

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Volume 1, Issue 3 of 'The Origamian', which was published in December 1958 contains information about the money folding practised by the magician Victor Frenkl:

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1959

Volume 1, Issue 4 of 'The Origamian', which was published in January 1959, contains a description of Vicor Frenkil's efforts to fold a five-pointed star from a dollar bill.

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Volume 1, Issue 5 of 'The Origamian', which was published in January 1959, mentions that 'Miss Millar made the word ORIGAMI pasted on a board - - each letter folded like Mr. Frenkil's dollar bill folds.'

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1961

An effect called the 'Boot Bill Fold' by Andrew Kennedy and Ernest Heldman appeared in 'The New Phoenix' issue 363, p280, in 1961.

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1963

Publication of 'Folding Money' by Adolfo Cerceda. I have not seen a copy of this book and do not know which designs it contained.

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1967/8

Issues 110 of April 1967 to 115 and 117 to 121 of September 1968 of MAD Magazine included adverts for subscriptions to the magazine featuring origami designs folded from dollar bills. These designs were folded by, and in most cases probably also designed by, Giuseppi Baggi.

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1969

Vol 9: Issue 1 of 'The Origamian' for Spring 1969 contained an article 'On Money Folds', written by Fred Rohm, some paragraphs of which contain interesting historical information:

The reference to 'Star Flowers' being published in 'Secrets of Origami' is incorrect. It was in fact published in 'The Best of Origami' by Samuel Randlett.

Thesame issue also contained a review of 'Folding Money Volume 2' by Samuel Randlett and diagrams for a Stag (from a dollar bill) by Fred Rohm.

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