A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
|Paper Cones / Grocer's Cones|
page attempts to record what is known about the history
of Paper Cones, also known as Grocer's Cones. 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.
Paper Cones appear to be among the most versatile of all paper folds. The range of uses they have been put to is little short of astonishing.
A mention of paper cones occurs in 'Magiae Naturalis' by Giambattista della Porta (1535-1615), which was first published in Latin in Naples in 1558. The first edition contained only four books but this had expanded to twenty books by 1584. The image below is taken from an English translation, of the twenty book version, which was published in London in 1658 under the title 'Natural Magick' and which gave the author's name as John Baptista Porta. I assume this information also appears in the 1558 Latin version.
A paper cone, which appears to be made from paper that has already been used for some other purpose, can be found in the bottom right corner of the painting 'Children's Games' by Peter Bruegel the Elder which is dated 1560. (Information from Joan Sallas.)
There is mention of 'un cornet a tabac' (a tobacco cone) as a possible answer to the question 'If I were a little paper what would you do with me?' in a game called 'Le Petit Papier' which appears in 'Manuel Complet des Jeux de Société' by Elisabeth Celnart, published by La Librairie Encyclopedique de Roret in Paris in 1827.
Don Simon - 1875 onwards
An article in La Nature No 605 of January 3rd, 1885, headed 'Les Physiques Sans Appareils' written by Gaston Tissandier, which contained instructions showing how to produce coal gas from an open fire using a paper cone. The same material subsequently in the 5th Edition of 'Les Recreations Scientifiques' by Gaston Tissandier which was published in 1888.
A description of how to make a paper cone appears 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 is provided. The instructions explain how to make a basic rolled cone and to fold the tip over to seal it, then say, roughly translated, 'If we fold the upper end of the cone inwards and in the opposite we place an oval piece of paper the sides may be rolled inward, resembling a person in a cut down suit.'
El cucurucho volador - The Flying Cone - 1907 onwards
A page of trick packages for April Fool Gifts appears in 'Distractions Enfantines' by Marie Koenig, which was published by Librairie Hachette et Cie in Paris in 1910. These wrappings include (bottom right) a cone for tobacco, powder, salt or pepper.
The same book also includes mention of using paper cones to make bowls for paper pipes and chimneys for cardboard houses.
'El cucurucho que explota' or The Exploding Cone - 1939
This design occurs in 'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero, which was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1939.