Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell


Paper Packets and Packaging
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of folded paper packets, of which there are many kinds. 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 Paper Cone - 1558 onwards

A mention of paper cones occurs in 'Magiae Naturalis' by Giambattista della Porta (1535-1615), which was first published in Latin in Naples in 1558. The first edition contained only four books but this had expanded to twenty books by 1584. The image below is taken from an English translation, of the twenty book version, which was published in London in 1658 under the title 'Natural Magick' and which gave the author's name as John Baptista Porta. I assume this information also appears in the 1584 Latin version.


The Hexagonal Packet - 1803 onwards

In the early 1990's a large number of rodent-chewed Hexagonal Packets containing seeds were discovered in the attic of The Woodlands, a historic estate in Philadelphia, once owned by the botanist William Hamilton (1735–1840). Some of these bear dates. Others are labelled in the handwriting of William Hamilton himself or his neighbour William Bartram (1739-1823), who was also a plant collector. The example pictured below is dated 1803.


The Rectangular Packet - 1903 onwards

This design is explained in 'La Ensenanza del Trabajo Manuel' by Pedro de Alcántara García and Teodosio Leal y Quiroga, which was published in Madrid in 1903, where it is described as 'the bag so useful in pharmacies'.



A page of trick packages for April Fool Gifts appears in 'Distractions Enfantines' by Marie Koenig, which was published by Librairie Hachette et Cie in Paris in 1910. These wrappings are intended to look as though they contain (top left) a cream cake, pies, St Honore, or an eclair, (top right) feathers, artificial flowers, or a ladies hat, (centre) a book, paper or chocolate, (bottom left) a picture, a complement, or sheet music and (bottom right) a cone for tobacco, powder, salt or pepper.