The Public Paperfolding History Project

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Last updated 24/12/2023


The Talking Fish
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the origami design known as The Talking Fish. 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.



As far as I know the Talking Fish first appears, as 'De haai (the shark), 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.

Part of this paragraph roughly translates as 'I must comment here that ... a very amusing beast emerges when you flex the figure through the middle so that the ends touch each other. If you take those ends in your hands and move them backwards and forwards the shark opens its wide mouth. The shark becomes considerably firmer if this fold is applied not on a single but on a double sheet.'



There are mentions of a 'talking fish' design in Vol 1: Issue 3 for December 1958 and Vol 1: Issue 4 for January 1959 of the Origamian. There are no details from which the design could be identified but it is probable from the proximity of dates and the name given to the design in both places that it is the same design found in Samuel Randlett's 'The Art of Origami' (see entry for 1961 below).



As far as I know, diagrams for this design first appear, as 'The Talking Fish', in 'The Art of Origami' by Samuel Randlett, which was published by E P Dutton in New York in 1961.