The Public Paperfolding History Project

Index Page


A Japanese Paper-Folding Classic by Julia and Martin Brossman, 1961
'A Japanese Paper-Folding Classic' by Julia and Martin Brossman, was published by The Pinecone Press in Washington in 1961. In fact The Pinecone Press was Julia and Martin Brossman's own self-publishing imprint. Only 500 copies were printed, each of which was numbered by hand.

The book was prepared for publication ('interpreted and edited') by Julia and Martin Brossman and is an annotated reproduction of the Starr copy of the original ms.

The book is subtitled 'Excerpt from the "Lost" Kan no mado', the use of the words Kan no mado in this context being an error. The words Kan No Mado do appear in the ms. on the final page, but they are more of an end note than a title. I understand that the larger encyclopaedia of which the section dealing with paperfolding is Volume 223, is more correctly called the Kayarausa. However, since 1961 it has become common to refer to the paperfolding section of the ms as the Kan No Mado and I have followed this usage on that basis that all the alternatives seem clumsy in comparison.

In around 1920 Professor Frederick Starr, an anthropologist on the faculty of University of Chicago, was allowed to make (or to have made) a copy of the original ms, owned by the Osaka Asahi newspaper, and kept in their library, for his own use which he took back to the USA. He subsequently described the ms in his article 'The Art of Paper-Folding in Japan' published on pages 22 and 23 of the 1922 edition of 'Japan: Overseas Travel Magazine'. On his death in 1933 the copy ms went to the Library of Congress in Washington along with other archive material.

By the time Gershon Legman compiled his bibliography of paperfolding in 1952 the location of both the original ms and Professor Starr's copy were unknown. The Starr copy was not located until 1960 when a search of Professor Starr's archive material was carried out at the request of Julia Brossman.

The original ms was, of course, never lost. David Lister notes that it was probably unavailable because the Osaka Asahi building was being rebuilt and their library was in store.

No date for the original work is given although Professor Starr's article (see below) states that he believed the work to be 70 years old or more in 1922. This would give a date of around 1850. The usual date given for the original ms is 1845, five years earlier. The ms itself is undated and I do not know what the evidence for the 1845 date is.

Details of the content of the ms are given on the Kan No Mado page.