Paperfolding in old magic books

Updated: Nov 7

Apart from origami my other main interest is magic, more particularly close-up magic, and especially particularly card magic. I’ve been doing magic as a hobby even longer than I've been doing origami, but have only quite recently started looking at the historical side of both subjects. To be honest I used to find the older books on origami and magic too simple and dull, and was more eager to get hold of all the latest new tricks and super-complex folds. Maybe it has something to do with getting older, but now I find it interesting to see where some of the classics in both fields first appeared and how they evolved over the years.

Around 2010, when I discovered that scanned versions of old books were being made available online, it was as if a whole new world had opened up. Or rather, a whole old world. I became curious about Hocus Pocus Junior (1634), one of the very earliest magic books, which I’d read about but never seen. Eventually I found a digitised copy of the second edition online, but in looking for it I also discovered lots of other magic books dating as far back as the 16th century.

Hocus Pocus Junior (1635) (second edition)

At first I focused mainly on the card tricks, but now and then I would also come across little stunts using paper. There were four main ones that caught my attention, which I will refer to as follows:

To Transform by Folding Paper

Buddha Papers

​Three Scrolls

Edge Dropping

In forthcoming blog posts I’ll have a closer look at each of these, plus also some related tricks from more recent sources.