Robert Harbin was the first and most important “real” origami author, producing several books which are much sought after.

Paper Magic
Paper Magic was the first book Harbin wrote, published by the Oldbourne Press, an imprint of Daily Express Newspapers of London, in 1956. It was delightfully illustrated by the now disgraced Rolf Harris, his frst commercial job after leaving Australia! Issued firstly in hardback with a blue dustjacket, it then came out in softback, with a red cover and may remain in print to this day. Well worth getting hold of for historical reasons, the models themselves are less exciting to today’s eyes. It was important also in that it contained a rudimentary history of folding.

A paperback edition was issued by John Maxfield Ltd. in 1971 and remained available until quite recently. It had the rare distinction of being translated into Japanese under Robert Harbin’s real name of “Ned Williams”.

Paper Folding Fun
Paper folding fun (1960) was a companion volume to Paper Magic. It featured many folds, as well as cut designs, such as those in the style of Thoki Yenn, mentioned here for perhaps the first time.

Secrets of Origami
Secrets of Origami was to the UK what the Randlett books were to the US – a compendium of (then) modern designs, treated seriously. Includes over 120 models ranging from a traditional sailboat, cicada, flapping bird, and jumping frog to such less common subjects as a Japanese lady, gargoyle, octopus, and a Moor at prayer. At the time it was probably the largest single collection of original designs. Re-released in paperback format, it was and is excellent value for money!

Originally published in 1963 by the Oldbourne Book Company. It was reprinted in another hard-backed edition by Octopus Books in 1971, but was for long out-of-print. A new paper-backed edition was published by Dover Books Inc. of New York in 1997. This has corrections to the instructions and a new introduction and preface.

Step by Step Origami
Published in hardback format by the Hamlyn Publishing Group in 1974, Dover Books Inc. have also recently republished this book in a paper-backed edition and it, too, is readily available. Step by Step was primarily a collection of designs by the talented American designer, Pat Crawford. Her work is still challenging to most folders today!

Teach Yourself Origami
“Teach Yourself Origami, the Art of Paperfolding” was originally published as a hard-backed edition by The English Universities Press, a division of Hodder and Stoughton Limited in 1968. A paper-backed edition under the name “Origami, The Art of Paperfolding” was published by Hodder Paperbacks in 1968. The following year the title was changed to “Origami 1” and the book is best-known under that title. It has been extensively reprinted!

Origami 1 2 3 4
Origami 1 was followed closely by “more origami”. When volumes 3 and 4 were scheduled, the first two volumes were reprinted as numbers 1 & 2. As the numbers increased, sales dropped, resulting in volume 4 being a very rare volume. Vol 2 was published in the States as “New adventures in Origami” and all four volumes are still published in Israel! Origami 1 and Origami 2 were published in French, (in Canada). All four books were also published in Italian. Plenty of work for collectors!

In 1980, Hodder and Stoughton reissued “Origami 1” , still as a paper-back, in their Teach Yourself Series, with a new historical introduction. It remains in print today. Unfortunately the other three books in the series have not been reprinted in Great Britain.

Illustrated Teach Yourself
Harbin’s Origami 1/Teach Yourself was also issued in a cut down, photo-illustrated version. The hardback version (yellow cover) was published in 1973, the softback version followed in 1975. These sold less well than the standard version and are comparatively rare.

Have Fun with Origami
A comparatively rare book, published to complement a UK Children’s program called “Look-in”. Published in 1975 and illustrated by Keith Jones, the book featured the works of Harbin himself and UK youngsters, including the now legendary John Richardson of Doncaster, many years before his wonderful “hedgehog” saw the light of day!