A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
page attempts to record what is known about the history
of baskets made of, or perhaps decorated with, folded
paper. 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.
The first historical reference to a paper basket that I am aware of occurs in the diary of Samuel Pepys in an entry for Thursday 14th May 1663. It reads 'This day we received a baskett from my sister Pall, made by her of paper, which hath a great deal of labour in it for country innocent work.' Unfortunately there is no way of identifying the method by which this paper basket was made.
The making of a paper filigree basket features in Jane Austen's novel 'Sense and Sensibility', published anonymously in 1811.
"I am glad," said Lady Middleton to Lucy, "you are not going to finish poor little Annamaria's basket this evening; for I am sure it must hurt your eyes to work filigree by candlelight. And we will make the dear little love some amends for her disappointment to-morrow, and then I hope she will not much mind it."
This hint was enough, Lucy recollected herself instantly and replied, "Indeed you are very much mistaken, Lady Middleton; I am only waiting to know whether you can make your party without me, or I should have been at my filigree already. I would not disappoint the little angel for all the world: and if you want me at the card-table now, I am resolved to finish the basket after supper."
"You are very good, I hope it won't hurt your eyeswill you ring the bell for some working candles? My poor little girl would be sadly disappointed, I know, if the basket was not finished tomorrow, for though I told her it certainly would not, I am sure she depends upon having it done."
Lucy directly drew her work table near her and reseated herself with an alacrity and cheerfulness which seemed to infer that she could taste no greater delight than in making a filigree basket for a spoilt child.
"Perhaps," continued Elinor, "if I should happen to cut out, I may be of some use to Miss Lucy Steele, in rolling her papers for her; and there is so much still to be done to the basket, that it must be impossible I think for her labour to singly, to finish it this evening. I should like the work exceedingly, if she would allow me a share in it."
The Woven Basket - 1873 onwards
The Basket with Handle - 1887 onwards
A design for 'Una Cesta Muy Graciosa' (A Very Amusing Basket), made by simply adding a handle to the Junk Box, appears in 'Guia Practica del Trabajo Manual Educativo' by Ezequiel Solana, which was published by Editorial Magisterio Espaņol in Madrid in 1904.
The same book shows how to link Froebel Stars together to make 'Half of a frame which can have multiple applications. Crosses, napkin rings etc can also be built, but the must frequent and amusing application is that of making baskets which can be used for decorations or jewellery boxes. In the latter case they are usually white, lined with coloured silk, which produces a beautiful ensemble. It is a toy for girls and toddlers.' Unfortunately the book does not include an illustration of a basket of this kind.
A design for a folded paper basket, made by attaching a handle to the Cake Box, appears in 'Origami (Part 1)' by Isao Honda, which was first published in Japan in 1931.
A design for a 'Candy and Place Card Basket' appears in 'The Art of Chinese Paper folding for Young and Old' by Maying Soong, which was published by Harcourt Brace and Company of New York in 1948.
A 'Hand Basket' appears in 'Paper Magic' by Robert Harbin, which was published by Oldbourne in London in 1956