Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

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Paper Hats and Caps
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of wearable paper hats and caps. 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.

There are many references to paper hats and paper caps in old books and periodicals but many of these are not accompanied by descriptions or illustrations and it is not therefore possible to know what particular design or style of paper hat or cap they refer to. I have only recorded such references here where they are interesting for other reasons.

There are separate pages for some of the most common or otherwise interesting styles of wearable folded paper hats. Links to these are inserted at the appropriate point in the timeline. Of these the Workman's Hat, the Newspaper Hat, and the Pyramidal Hat all appear to be derived from the folding sequence for the Paper Boat, which itself sometimes appears in use as a Paper Boat Hat in its own right. The 'Soldier's Cap' is closely related to the Waterbomb.

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This picture titled 'Des fins chappeaux de papier a vendre' (Fine paper hats for sale) by Pierre Brebiette dates from 1630 and is in the collection of Paris Musees. It is one of a series of pictures showing vendors of paper goods.

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According to Lexico (https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/paper_cap) the phrase 'paper cap' is first found in English in the late 17th century in the writings of the antiquarian John Lewis (1675–1747). I have not been able to verify this information.

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Around 1790 Juan González del Castillo (1763-1800) premiered the sainete 'Los cómicos de la legua', a work in which the character Pasqual says 'although I went to school more than three years and a half, I only learned how to make paper hats and birds of paper'.

Lacking a picture, we cannot unfortunately know which type of 'pajaras de papel' (paper bird) or which type of 'montera' (paper hat) is being referred to here. The Newspaper Hat is referred to as a Montera in both 'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero, which was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1939, and '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 Pyramidal Hat is referred to as a Montera in Guia Practica del Trabajo Manual Educativo' by Ezequiel Solana, which was published by Editorial Magisterio Español in Madrid in 1904. The author says 'There are several forms of monteras: We are going to explain a well-known one.' 'Monteras' here may refer to one, or both, of these designs, or quite possibly to another type of paper hat entirely.

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In a letter which Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of January 1796, she says 'We have trimmed up and given away all the old paper hats of Mamma's manufacture; I hope you will not regret the loss of yours.' Footnote 14 to this letter in 'Jane Austen's Letters', 4th Edition, collected and edited by Dierdre Le Faye, Oxford University Press, 2011 states that 'Dr Avril Hart at the Victoria and Albert Museum suggests that these were made from narrow folded strips of paper woven and plaited together. Alternatively, stamped paper (finely perforated with delicate patterns) was used in the Eighteenth century to make fans; this might also have been used for making hats. See Sacheverell Sitwell and Doris Langley Moore 'Gallery of Fashion 1790 - 1812.' I have not been able to find any other information that would verify or prioritise either of these suggestions.

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The Workman's Hat - c1800 onwards

(also known as The Carpenter's, Printer's or Pressman's Hat)

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The Newspaper Hat - 1832 onwards

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The Paper Boat Hat - 1853 onwards

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The Pyramidal Hat - 1859 onwards

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The Mitre - 1876 onwards

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The Soldier's Cap - 1882 onwards

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The Donkey-Eared Dunce's Hat - 1889 onwards

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The Patisserie Box Hat - 1893

'L'Annee Preparatoire de Travail Manuel' by M P Martin, which was published by Armand Collin & Cie in Paris in 1893, contains a 'Bonnet de Police, developed from the Patisserie Box.

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In the January 1894 issue of the American children's magazine St Nicholas is an article about 'How Money is Made'. It explains how each printed bill is individually examined and that:

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Le Bonnet Carre - 1896

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A variation of the Pyramidal Hat called 'Casquette Moyen Age' (Medieval Hat) appears in 'Le Livre des Amusettes' by Toto, which was published in Paris by Charles Mendel in 1899.

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The Magic Hat - 1903

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A number of paper hats appear in 'Guia Practica del Trabajo Manual Educativo' by Ezequiel Solana, which was published by Editorial Magisterio Español in Madrid in 1904.

Sombreros de la Edad Media (Medieval Hat)

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Mitra de Dos Puntas (Two-pointed Mitre)

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Sombrero de Magico 1 (Magic Hat 1)

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Gorra sin Visera (Cap without Visor)

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Sombrero de Magico 2 (Magic Hat 2)

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The Air Force Cap - 1920

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The Postman's Hat - 1928 onwards

A version of the Junk Box in which one flap is tucked inside and the other left out to form a brim.

As far as I know it first appears as 'The Cap' in 'Fun with Paperfolding' by William D Murray and Francis J Rigney, which was published by the Fleming H Revell Company, New York in 1928.

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The design also occurs as 'La gorra del cartero' (The Postman's Hat) in El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1939.

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The Sou'wester - 1939 onwards

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'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero, which was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1939, contains diagrams for several other paper hats which, as far as I know, appear there for the first time.

'La cofia de enfermera' - The Nurse's Cap - 1939

Another derivative of the Newspaper Hat.

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'El bonete del cura' - The Curate's Hat - 1939

A hat derived from the House. I am not convinced that this hat is actually wearable.

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El gorro del soldado italiano - The Italian Soldier's Hat - 1939

This hat is made from a version of the House developed from an oblong rather than a square.

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'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 also contains two hats derived from the House design:

Birrete de Obispo - (the same design as 'El bonete del cura' above)

Gorro de Pintor (Painter's Hat) - the Birrete de Obispo in it's undeveloped form

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The Flat-Bottomed Boat is re-invented as a hat, 'El Bicornio de Ministro', in 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.

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Old Scholar Hat

This hat, which is a variation of the Junk Box, first 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.

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Winged Hat

This hat also first 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.

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'At Home Tonight' by Herbert McKay, which was published by Oxford University Press in London, New York and Toronto in 1940, contains diagrams for several non-standard paper hats.

A Sou'wester - The Pyramidal Hat version of the Sou-wester

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A Dustman's Hat

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A Hat with Wings

(from the preliminary fold)

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An Ornamental Hat

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A Hat with a Feather

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A Military Hat

(From the waterbomb base)

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A Grenadier's Hat

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