Dawn Tucker <dawn_...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>I came across this quotation in a book of (author) Jane Austen's letters ...

I hadn't heard of this letter before so I looked it up. I find it was written 
to her sister Cassandra on Monday 24th October 1808 and contains two references 
to paper ships: 

'We do not want amusement: bilbocatch, at which George is indefatigable; 
spillikins, paper ships, riddles, conundrums, and cards, with watching the flow 
and ebb of the river, and now and then a stroll out, keep us well employed;'


'While I write now, George is most industriously making and naming paper ships, 
at which he afterwards shoots with horse-chestnuts brought from Steventon on 

> ... from the early 1800s. Thoughts? I know it's possible, but is it likely??

The letter does not say the boats are folded ... but I think we may presume 
they are. If so there are two obvious possibilities for the design at this date 
... the Chinese Junk and the Paper Boat. 

Of the two, I suppose, it is most likely he is folding Paper Boats rather than 
Chinese Junks. 

(Incidentally, since Jane Austen says in the same latter 'George is almost a 
new acquaintance to me', it seems to me that he is unlikely to have been her 

Since we know that folding paper boats (of some undefined kind but, again, 
probably Paper Boats) appears to have been almost an obsession with Percy 
Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822), who was a contemporary of Jane Austen (1775 - 
1817), it appears to that there is no difficulty in believing Jane Austen's 
account. See www.origamiheaven.com/historypercybyssheshelley.htm for more 

I will add this information to my page on Paper Boats 
(www.origamiheaven.com/historyofthepaperboat.htm) when I have time. 

I find there is another, earlier, possible reference to paperfolding in Jane 
Austen's letters. On Saturday 9th or Sunday 10th of January 1796 she wrote to 
Cassandra that:

'We have trimmed up and given away all the old paper hats of Mamma's 
manufacture; I hope you will not regret the loss of yours.' 

There may be more ...


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