The Public Paperfolding History Project

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The Primitive Paper Banger
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the paperfolding design I call the Primitive Paper Banger. 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 Primitive Paper Banger is made by folding a sheet of paper in half and then in half again and worked by grasping the two interior layers, then making a sharp throwing motion with the hand.


Lewis Carroll's diary mentions paperfolding on several occasions. The entry for October 8th 1890 includes the words '... and the little boy Francis Epipharius (Piffy), a very bright little creature, who taught me how to fold paper pistols ...' There are three other subsequent entries which record Lewis Carroll teaching these paper pistols to other children. Unfortunately we have no evidence to tell us what these paper pistols were. It is possible that they were paper bangers, either of the primitive or more sophisticated varieties, or one of the designs on the paper pistols page, or something else entirely.



As far as I know ths design first appears in the 1684 edition of 'Het natuurlyk tover-boek' by Simon Witgeest. Roughly translated this says: 'To make half a sheet of paper crack like a musket. Then take a sheet of paper, fold it in quarto, and after that in octavo, so you have four octavo sheets, then take the two innermost with your right hand, and strike it above the arm, so it will crack like a musket.'



Column 1075 of 'Onomatologia curiosa artificiosa et magica oder ganz natürliches Zauber-lexicon', which was published in 1759 also contains a description of this design under the heading 'Pappier krachend zu machen'.



A modern version of this design appears in 'Het Grote Vouwboek' by Aart van Breda, which was published by Uitgeverij van Breda in 1963.