The Public Paperfolding History Project

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Paper Alphabets, Letters and Numbers
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of Paper Alphabets, Letters and Numbers. 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 Paper Alphabet that I am aware of appears in 'De Kleine Papierwerkers 1: Wat men van een stukje papier al maken kan: Het vouwen' (The Small Paperwork 1: What one can make from a piece of paper: Folding) by Elise Van Calcar, which was published by K H Schadd in Amsterdam in 1863. The letter Q is not included.



Instructions for folding a small number of letters from paper strips appear in 'Cours de Travail Manuel (Pour les Garcons) - Premiere Partie - Cours Elementaire' by A Planty, which was published by Gedalge Jeune in Paris in 1887.



There are references to letters and numbers folded from paper strips in the 'Bulletin de la Societe de Protection des Apprentis', an official document issued by the Societe de Protection des Apprentis et des Enfants Employes par les Manufactures in Paris in 1891 but no illustrations are given.



The name 'Louis' made from letters folded from paper strips appears in 'Le Travail Manuel a L'ecole Primaire' by Jully & Rocheron, which was published by Librairie Classique Eugene Belin in Paris in 1892.



A full alphabet folded from paper strips in a similar way appears in 'L'Annee Preparatoire de Travail Manuel' by M P Martin, which was published by Armand Collin & Cie in Paris in 1893. The letters are K, W and Y are not included.

The same book also includes the numbers 1-9. The O in the alphabet can clearly function as a zero.



Three letters folded from paper strips appear in 'Guia Practica del Trabajo Manual Educativo' by Ezequiel Solana, which was published by Editorial Magisterio Espaņol in Madrid in 1904.



A similar alphabet folded from strips, but which this time also contained punctuation marks and mathematical symbols appeared in 'El Plegado y Cartonaje en la Escuela Primaria' by Antonio M Luchia and Corina Luciani de Luchia, which was published by Editorial Kapelusz in Buenos Aires in 1940.



The extended version of 'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero, which was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1951, contains instructions for developing 'El Alfabeto en Relieve' (The Pleated Alphabet).