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The Fold and One Cut Latin Cross // Altar / Ticket to Heaven
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the fold and cut effect known as the Fold and One Cut Latin Cross / Three Crosses / Altar / Ticket to Heaven / Hell and by many other names. 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.

This is one of the most interesting fold and cut designs in terms of its continued evolution throughout the years.



As far as I know the first appearance of this effect in the historical record is in 'The Girl's Own Book' by Lydia Marie Child, which was published by Clark Austin and Co in New York in 1833. The effect is presented as a way to make Three Crosses and the leftover pieces are arranged to add 'blocks and superscription' to the design to form a calvary.



The same effect appears in 'The Boy's Own Toymaker' by Ebenezer Landells which was published in 1859 by Griffin and Farran in London and Shephard, Clark and Brown in Boston. In this case the pieces are not arranged to form a calvary but a cross and two other geometrical arrangements. Theb purpose of the othyer arrangements is not clear.



A similar version appears in 'Spielbuch fur Knaben' by Hermann Wagner, which was published by Verlag von Otto Spamer in Leipzig in 1864, although the foreword is dated May 1863, which argues that the book was complete at that date.


Variations of the effect also appear:


In 'Spielbuch fur Madchen' by Maria Leske (a pseudonym of Marina Krebs), which was published by Verlag von Otto Spamer in Leipzig in 1865.



In 'Hanky Panky', a book of magical effects, puzzles, recreational mathematics and other amusements, by W H Cremer, Jun, which was published by John Camden Hotten in London in 1872.



In the new edition of 'The Boy's Own Book', 'thoroughly revised and considerably enlarged', which was published in London by Crosby, Lockwood and Co in 1880.



In a reader's letter in the Letterbox column of the January 1881 issue of the American children's magazine St Nicholas.



In the 9th March 1889 issue of the French magazine 'La Nature', where it is presented as a puzzle.



A basic version of the fold and one cut latin cross design appears in the 30th October 1892 issue of 'Journal des Instituteurs'. This is extracted from the book 'Le Travail Manuel a L'ecole Primaire, by M. Coste et J. Lapassade, which had been published in 1887.



In Les Bon Jeudis by Tom Tit, published in Paris in 1906 by Librairie Vuibert.



In 'Ciencia Recreativa' by Jose Estralella, which was published by Gustavo Gili in Barcelona in 1918. (Section 960 explains how to create a cross with equal arms by beginning with a square.)



In 'Teaching the Sick: A Manual of Occupational Therapy and Reeducation' by George Edward Barton, which was published by W B Saunders Company in Philadelphia and London in 1919, where it is called 'The Kaiser's Ticket to Heaven'.



In 'Paper Magic' by Will Blyth, which was published by C Arthur Pearson in London in 1920, under the title 'Cross of Supreme Sacrifice' which formed part of a rather jingoistic presentation entitled 'Gains of the Great War.'



In 'Houdini's Paper Magic' published by E P Dutton and Company of New York in 1922. The effect is titled 'Three Crosses'. Nothing is said about use of the various leftover pieces. The Greek Cross and the Maltese Cross are obtained from a folded square in a similar way.



An article by Keenan H Ward which included a different presentation of this effect, in which the various spare pieces are arranged to form the word 'HELL', appeared in the December 1929 version of 'Modern Mechanics' magazine.

I learned of this reference from



The Hell version also appeared in 'Winter Nights Entertainments' by R M Abraham, which was first published by Constable and Constable in London in 1932.



'The Phoenix' issue 62 contained an effect titled 'Pieces of Fate' by L Vosburgh Lyons which is described as 'folding and cutting a piece of paper into a circle, a swastika, the words hell and peace are formed, themed to the WW2', which sounds like a version of the same effect. (Information from



An interesting version using three cuts (the additional cut creates the swastika) can be found in 'Willane's Wizardry' by Willane, which was pubished by ARCAS, in London, and has a foreword dated 1947. It is also a good example of a paperfold / magical effect used as political propaganda, very much reflecting its time. Many people nowadays would find it strange that Churchill did not join the others on the downward journey. Information from Edwin Corrie.



In their paper 'Fold-and-Cut Magic', included in 'Tribute to a Mathemagician', published by A K Peters in 2004, Erik and Martin Demaine describe a method of achieving a similar effect in which the cross and each of the four letters can be cut whole from a rectangle using just one cut. The method of folding the paper to achieve this is necessarily more complicated than the original effect.


More recently someone has discovered that the various spare pieces can also be arranged to form the word 'LIFE'. I do not know the date at which this discovery was made or who made it.