Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

 

 
The Paper Dart / The Arrow
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the origami design known (in England) as the Paper Dart or (in America) as the Arrow. 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 Dart is nowadays considered to be a paper plane, but, as its early names suggest, it was not viewed as a paper plane when it was first designed.

Information on other kinds of paper darts can be found here.

In Japan

In his article 'History of Origami in the East and the West before Interfusion', published in 'Origami 5: Fifth International Meeting of Origami, Science, Mathematics and Education' in 2011, Koshiro Hatori asserts that, ''Many of the European origami models contained in Krause-Boelte's book (ie 'The Kindergarten Guide') are not included in contemporary Japanese records. The pig, house, sofa (also known as piano or organ), balloon (waterbomb), arrow (paper plane), salt cellar (cootie catcher), bird (pajarita or cocotte) and windmill ... were all born in Europe and imported into Japan along with the kindergarten system.'

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1931

As far as I know the first appearance of this type of design in Japan is in 'Origami (Part 1)' by Isao Honda, which was published in 1931, although you will note that in this instance it is folded from a square rather than an oblong (and as a consequence does not fly nearly as well).

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In Western Europe / America

1864

The earliest illustration of a Paper Dart that I know of appears (as 'Ein Warfpfeil') in 'Spielbuch fur Knaben' by Hermann Wagner, which was published by Verlag von Otto Spamer in Leipzig in 1864, although the foreword is dated May 1863, which argues that the book was complete at that date. As far as I can tell there are no accompanying diagrams or instructions in the book.

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1864

Written instructions for folding the Paper Dart are first found in Every Little Boy's Book, published by Routledge, Warne and Routledge in 1864.

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1865

The illustration that appeared in 'Spielbuch fur Knaben' by Hermann Wagner also appears in 'Spielbuch fur Madchen' by Maria Leske (a pseudonym of Marina Krebs), which was published by Verlag von Otto Spamer in Leipzig in 1865.

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1873

The earliest diagrams that I know of for a Paper Dart appear in The Popular Recreator', which was published by Cassell and Co in London in 1873.

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1874

The third edition of 'Der Kindergarten' by Hermann Goldammer, which was published by Carl Babel in Berlin in 1874, mentions, but does not picture, a design titled 'Der Pfeil' (the arrow). From the name and the context this is probably the Paper Dart.

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1876

Diagrams also appear in 'Des Kindes Erste Beschaftigungsbuch' by E Barth and W Niederley, which was first published in Bielefeld and Leipzig, and the foreword of which is dated October 1876.

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1880

Diagrams for the Paper Dart, under the title 'Les Fleches', also appear in 'Un million de jeux et de plaisirs' by T de Moulidars, which was first published in 1880 and subsequently republished under the title 'Grande encyclopédie méthodique, universelle, illustrée, des jeux et des divertissements de l'esprit et du corps'.

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1881

Diagrams also appear in 'Cassell's Book of Indoor Amusements, Card Games and Fireside Fun', which was published by Cassell and Co in London in 1881. The introduction states, 'The paper dart is one of the easiest made of the paper toys, and when made will last some time, if put only to its legitimate use. It is best made of a piece of good, stout paper ...''

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In his book 'Paper: Paging Through History', Mark Kurlansky reports that 'In 1881, the New York Stock Exchange declared it would impose a dollar fine on anyone caught throwing a paper dart at a member while the exchange was in session.' I have not been unable to track down the source on which this report is based.

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1882

The design also appears, as the 'Arrow', in part two of 'The Kindergarten Guide' by Maria Kraus Boelte and John Kraus, which was probably first published by E. Steiger and Company in New York in 1882.

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1883

'Giuochi Fanciulleschi Siciliani' by Giuseppe Pitri, which was published by Luigi Pedone Lauriel in Palermo in 1883, contains a drawing opf the Paper Dart under the name 'La Fileccia'.

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1889

Volume 8, Issue 3, of the Downside Review for November 1889 contained an article entitled 'On Certain Rages at Downside' which is said to contain the words, 'a paper dart has glided noiselessly down the room, amidst the suppressed applause and smothered hilarity of the students.' I have not been able to verify this from the original source.

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The Paper Dart also appears:

1891

In 'Pleasant Work for Busy Fingers' by Maggie Browne, which was published by Cassell and Company in London in 1891. This book is an English version of 'Des Kindes Erste Beschaftigungsbuch' enhanced by the addition of a few extra designs.

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1893

In 'L'Annee Preparatoire de Travail Manuel' by M P Martin, which was published by Armand Collin & Cie in Paris in 1893.

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1899

In 'Le Livre des Amusettes' by Toto, which was published in Paris by Charles Mendel in 1899, also contains a variation of the basic Paper Dart.

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1900

In 'Die Frobelschen Beschaftigungen: Das Falten' by Marie Muller-Wunderlich, which was published by Friedrich Brandstetter in Leipzig in 1900.

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In 'What Shall We Do Now?, by Edward Verral Lucas and Elizabeth Lucas, which was published by Frederick A Stokes Company in New York in 1900.

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1907

As 'Saeta o flecha' (bolt or arrow) in an article titled 'El trabajo manual escolar' by Vicente Casto Legua in issue 191 of the Spanish magazine 'La Escuela Moderna' for February 1907, which was published in Madrid by Los Sucesores de Hernando. No illustration of this design is provided but from the description it seems to be the standard Paper Dart although with two slits in the back edge to provide an aileron.

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1909

As 'La fleche' in 'Petit Manuel de Travaux d'Amateurs' by H de Graffigny, which was published by Collection A L Guyot in Paris in 1909. Of the Paper Dart and the Parachute the author says, 'These are two small objects which most schoolchildren know how to make.'

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1916

In the novel David Blaize, first published by Stodder and Houghton in 1916, E F Benson wrote 'He had finished his letter with remarkable speed and had, by writing small, conveyed sufficient information to her on a half-sheet. There was thus the other half-sheet, noiselessly torn off, to be framed into munitions of aerial warfare. He folded it neatly into the form of a dart, he inked the point by dipping it into the china receptacle at the top of his desk, and launched it with unerring aim, enfilading the cross-bench where David sat.'

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1920

Will Blyth's 'Paper Magic', published by C Arthur Pearson, London in 1920 contains diagrams for the Paper Dart as well as for a two sheet paper plane design called 'The Swallow' in which one sheet forms the wings and another the tail (see below).

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1928

Murray and Rigney's 'Fun with Paper Folding', published by the Fleming H Revell Company, New York in 1928 features a doubly thinned version of the Paper Dart to which a Mitre is added to act as a weight on the nose.

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1936

'Paper Toy Making' by Margaret Campbell, which was first published by Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd in London, probably in 1937, although both the Foreword and Preface are dated 1936, which argues that the book was complete at that date.

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1939

'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero, which was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1939.

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1940

'At Home Tonight' by Herbert McKay, which was published by Oxford University Press in London, New York and Toronto in 1940, contains diagrams for 'A Glider' - ie the Paper Dart folded from a square.

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1949

As 'La Fleche' in 'Au Pays des Mains Agiles', which was published by Editions Fleurus in Paris in 1949.

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1956

As just 'The Dart' in 'Paper Magic' by Robert Harbin, which was published by Oldbourne in London in 1956. The Mitre is used as a 'Nose Cap' to add weight to the tip.

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