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Waterbomb as prision fireflies

PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:23 pm
by JGimeno
About using the waterbomb to be used by children as prison flies, I have only knowledge of the testimony:
- John Webster: The Duchess of Malfi (Act IV. Scene II)
- Zoe Chiang: Alice Gray: "Profile Zoe Chiang" The Origamian, vol. 9 iss.2 (Summer 1969), p. 1
- Prince: John Smith, "Notes on the History of Origami".
- And Sanders K. G. Nellis: Salem newspaper, January 29, 1836.

However, whenever I noticed the following engraving (published in 1898) in the book of Marie Koenig: Travaux pour les enfants Récréatifs 4 to 10 ans. Paris (France): Librairie Hachette et Cie., 1898.

In view of this, I think children, to celebrate the storming of the Bastille on the night of 13 to 14 July, during the "retraite aux flambeaux" (literally "torchlight parade"), would introduce a firefly in place of the fly. Is that true? I do not know and the text tells us either. Surely, the French friends may say.

If this is true, we would have another testimony to the jail for use as insect of the Waterbomb, besides the already known.

Re: Waterbomb as prision fireflies

PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:07 pm
by jtbm71
In the book JEUX ET JOUETS DU JEUNE ÂGE by Gaston Tissandier, aat least in the 1890 edition, there is a mention of the cage for the insects.

See the book at: ... 0351369876

The image of the paper related things (better resolution):

Good luck,

Jose Tomas Buitrago

Re: Waterbomb as prision fireflies

PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:55 pm
by JGimeno
The box is for crickets, yes, but not the cube of the Waterbomb.
That box is the same that appeared in the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves, who commented in Middle Ages paper folding?
The Capuchin monks are those appearing in the pictures on Cards.
Thanks Joseph Thomas and Joan

Re: Waterbomb as prision fireflies

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:40 am
by Joan Sallas
Yes Juan, the box is the same that appeared in the "Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves", commented in the topic Middle Ages paper folding

In addition, here a dutch, an english and two french old books in chronologic order, in which appairs the waterbomb in graphic form:

# Calcar, Elise van: De kleine Papierwerkers. Wat men van een stukje papier al maken kann. Het vouwen. Amsterdam: K. H. Schadd, 1863 (page 46, tables III and VII)

# Page, Anne L. / Brooks, Angeline / Putnam, Alice H. / Peabody, Mary H.: The Kindergarten and the school. Springfield: Milton Bradley, 1886. 1st edition (table to page 130)

# Coste, M. / Lapassade, J.: Le travail manuel à l'Ecole Primaire. Cours méthodique et pratique conforme au programme officiel. Pliage - Tissage – Tressage – Collage - Découpage et Cartonnage – Modelage - Travail de fil de fer. Section Enfantine. Cours Élémentaire. Cours Moyen. Cours Supérieur. Paris, Pau: Jeandé et Lafon, Vve. Ribaut. 1st edition, [ca. 1888] (page 82)

# Tissandier, Gaston: La Science Pratique. Paris : Masson G., 1889 (pages 20-21)

But the most interesting is that in Coste/Lapassade book the waterbomb model is called “Cube soufflée ou prison à mouches". This confirm that really this modell was used to put inside flies, as John Webster (through Eric Kenneway), Zoe Chiang, Thoki Yen and Kristine Tomlinson mentioned.

Here the mention of John Webster:

"[...] Duch. Who I am?
Bos. Thou art a box worm-seed, at best but a salvatory of green mummy. What's this flesh? a little crudded milk, fantastical puff-paste. Our bodies are weaker than those paper-prisons boys use to keep flies in; more contemptible, since ours is to preserve earth-worms. Didst thou ever see a lark in a cage? Such is the soul in the body: this world is like her little turf of grass, and the Heaven o'er our heads, like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge of the small compass of our prison.
[...]" (transcribed from a 1888 edition)

In Calcar book the model is called “Luchtballon” (hot air ballon), in Tissandier book “un ballon en papier” (paper ball) and in Page book is no name given.

The model in Calcar book is oval folded.

All this books mentioned are present in the Padore Library/Archive.

joan sallas

Re: Waterbomb as prision fireflies

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:36 pm
by jtbm71
The text related to the box in the book Jeux et Jouets... by Tissandier says:

Little box for insects... and the cage is ready to be used as a prision for an insect. (not only crickets as shown on the picture, but flies)

If this box is made from the middle ages, it should be the one mentioned by John Webster.

Good luck,

Jose Tomas Buitrago

Re: Waterbomb as prision fireflies

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:25 pm
by JGimeno
You're right, it is possible that the box that refers to the work of Webster, is the same as appears in the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves and publishes Gaston Tissandier, but it would not always be the case.
Gaston Tissandier seems clear that the difference between the Little box for insects and the Paper ball or Waterbomb.
But Zoe Chiang, Thoki Yen and M. Coste & J. Lapassade confirm that referred to Waterbomb as prison flies or insects.
J. Gimeno

Re: Waterbomb as prision fireflies

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:40 pm
by Joan Sallas
Very interesting discussion.

We have two historical paper containers that were used for children to content insects.

Of course it could be as José Tomás say, that Websters mention in "The Duchess of Malfi" (1614) is in relation to the Catherine van Cleves box, as Gaston Tissandier writed in "Jeux et Jouets" (1880), but the same box was published by Tissandier again in "La science pratique" (1889) as boite en papier and curiously is no mention of the use as cage for insects.

The Catherine van Cleves box is documented since ca. 1440 and the waterbomb "box"is documented almost since 1836 (K. G. Nellis: Salem newspaper) and high probably older, but... so old as 1614?

I think it could be really possible. In Mathias Giegher napkin folding book "Li tre trattati" (1629) appairs without doubt a picture that represent the waterbomb base. Giegher teached napkin folding in the University of Padova, and to exercise this art in this time it was frequently recomended the use of paper. The waterbomb base isn't the waterbomb, but from the technical and material perspective I think we are not far.

We need simply more research to discover more documents.

joan sallas

Re: Waterbomb as prision fireflies

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:21 pm
by Michel G
I would like to say that Marie Koening, refers also to prison fireflies.
Not in his book "Travaux récréatifs pour les enfants de 4 à 10 ans. Paris (France): Librairie Hachette et Cie., 1898.
But in a previous publication, the magazine "L'ami de l'enfance n°17" (01-06-1894) pages 270-271.
The French text is "Ces ballons, dans les écoles primaires, s'appellent boîtes à mouches."
Translation "These balloons, in primary schools, are called fly's boxes.

Re: Waterbomb as prision fireflies

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:21 pm
by Michel G
About the name "prison à mouches" (flies prison)
This name come from the official program of "National Education" by the law of 1887 January 18th.
See texte in red rectangle.

Re: Waterbomb as prision fireflies

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:20 pm
by Joan Sallas
revised the 28th February 2013

Again an old mention from 1892 about the Waterbomb as prision fireflies in the follow book from Cuba (until 1898 a spanish colony):

Ventura, Victorio R.: Enseñanza del trabajo manual en las escuelas. Obra novísima dedicada al desarrollo físico e intelectual de los niños, preparandolos debidamente para ganarse su subsistencia. Útil especialmente en las escuelas urbanas y rurales de la Isla. La Habana, Cuba: Minerva, Libreria especial pedagógica, 1892, 34 pages

The book is in the Biblioteca Nacional de España (National Spanish Library).

Here the link: ... 6010065/49

And here the typed mention:
[pages 9-10]
[…] El trabajo del papel comprende todos los objetos de utilidad ó de pasatiempo que pueden obtenerse por medio del plegado y que exigen exactitud como son cuadrados exactos, polígonos regulares, arenilleros, globos, bonetes de obispo, plumeros, prisiones de moscas. […]

Here the folding program for children from 5 to 7 years:
[p. 15-17]
[…] Programa para un curso elemental. […] Un curso elemental puede comprender una división infantil, compuesto de niños de cinco á siete años.
[…] Diciembre: III. Plegado del papel
1 Plegado de triángulos y de cuadrados: Sombrero de gendarme, mesa, cartera, gallito, diez clases de rosetones.
2 Plegado de bandas (plegado continuo): línea quebrada, líneas griegas
3 Plegado de bandas (plegado no contínuo): cuadrado; rectángulo, estrellas, letras griegas, marcos.

It's interesting to compare this book with the Bulletin de la société de protection des enfants (1891) showed by Michel Grand in the last message. Many folded objects are in both documents, and the translation itself of french cocotte for spanish gallito and not for pajarita (as usual this model called in spanish language) shows that the french document was high probably the reference for the spanish one, a very frequent tendence during the 19 century, that we discuted in this forum with other subjects too as viewtopic.php?f=9&t=40

Joan Sallas