"Römische Bonbonieren" in Weimar (Germany) 1792

The history of paperfolding
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Joan Sallas
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Weimar, Germany

"Römische Bonbonieren" in Weimar (Germany) 1792

Post by Joan Sallas » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:23 pm

revised the 25th april 2012

The german folder from and living in Weimar Ariane Schreiter advertised me about a recent dicovery of two folded boxes dated from 1792, in Weimar (Germany). I want introduce you here to this interesting subject.

In the second half of the 18th century rich people developped in Rom a peculiar mode: they eated the dessert accompained with little pieces of sugar in form of cameos*, maked from real antik (old greek or romish) and modern ('modern' in its time - 18th century) cameos models. This sugar pieces were selled and offered inside of a little box maked with paper.

*To see was ist a real cameo (not a sugar cameo), here two links:

René François le Goullon (1757-1839) was a french cook that worked in Weimar (Germany) for Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1739-1807), Duchess of Saxe-Weimar and Eisenach until her death. Le Goullon accompained 1788-1790 Anna Amalia in a travel to Rom, where learned how to make this sugar cameos. Goullon explain that the sugar cameos were called in Rom "Pastilles à la Romaine", and the box with the sugar cameos "Bonbonnières à l'Antique", probably both terms self translated from the italian.

Wenn 1790 he was back to Germany, produced herself this sugar cameos in Weimar, who called „Bonbonnière à la Romaine“ or "Römische Bonboniere", and January 1792 annonced his product in the "Journal des Luxus und der Mode" (page 55) and started to sell them to rich people with or without boxes (square or ovale) for 1 Reichthaler (old german currency), or for less money for more than 12 boxes. The french cook Goullon living in Germany called this box "boete", a german fonetic writing from the french name "boîte" (= box), to be correct spoked for german people.

Goullon called the complet box with the sugar cameos inside in german ("Römische Bonboniere") and french („Bonbonnière à la Romaine“) language. We can supose that in Italy was probably called "Bomboniera alla Romana", meaning not only the city of Rom, but the old romish cameos too. This suposition must be researched to be confirmed. In the book of Gilda Cefariello Grosso and Serafino Scapecchi "La Bomboniera nel Tempo. Storia e costume dal 700 al 900" (San Agatha Li Battiati, Editrice Milo, 1991) they are showed boxes mostly maked in glas, porcellan, gold, silver, ceramic, and only one with paper (pergamena e cartone) from 1959. Perhaps too in "Merletti e ricami italiani. Italian laces and embroideries" (Bologna: Nuova, 2005, 2009), writed by many authors, there's more information.

Two of this boxes and ten sugar cameos are conserved in the german institution „Klassik Stiftung Weimar“, and until 10th Juny they are showed in the exhibition „Kultur des Sinnlichen“, which I visited last weekend. I think the two folded boxes have a high interest for the folding research.

Goullon explain that the boxes were maked ovale with cardboard or square with folded paper, and decorated with colors, glued paper and tragacanth gum, and contained 130 sugar cameos. The two square boxes in the exhibition are square with folded paper, and looks like the glued union of a masu box and a cutted german twisted baptismal certificate. The mass of the twisted/cutted part is the same as the most frequently mass by the german twist folded baptismal certificate: ca. 14 cm. This detail and the fact that twisted baptismal certificates existed only in german speaking regions (specially in this time), permit supose that probably a twist folded german baptismal certificate was taked as model to create the twist square Bonbonnière. And again a perhaps relevant coincidence: this kind of boxes with dragées is until today used in many countries like a present for the participants in the baptism ceremonies.

At the begin of the 19th century this sugar cameos and Bonbonnières à la Romaine were very popular and probably cheaper, and were offered as a present for children too. Later it was used dragées inside of the boxes too. In the Kultur Stiftung Weimar there are conserved too some colored oblates (called "oblaten à camées"), little than the sugar cameos, with a hole in the middle, founded inside of one of both boxes. Probably they were used with the same function that the sugar cameos and dragées. This oblates are sadly not showed in the exhibition, and there's no mention about them.

From the original showed boxes, Ariane Schreiter maked nice facsimile pieces which in the exhibition are selled for 10 €. If you ask in the reception of the exhibition, you can recive a A4 with the suposed folding instructions of this box. The diagramms are redrawed from two other folding instructions of a masu box and a baptismal certificate, one of Marc Kirschenbaum (2005) and the another of Carlo Wingerter (2006), but without indication of which folding instruction is from one or from the other author.

I uploaded the flyer of the exhibition "Kultur des Sinnlichen". You can see the picture of one of the original twisted folded box (very similar to the other one exhibed too) and some original sugar cameos. A short text accompain the box picture:

"Bonbonnière à l’antique: Faltschachtel für Zuckergemmen, die der Weimarer Hofkoch René François le Goullon fertigte; ab 1792 ein Exportschlager" (engl.: "Bonbonnière à l’antique: folded box for sugar cameos, made by René François le Goullon, cook in Weimar; since 1792 a big export success").

Certainly, this product was an important comercial succes in Weimar, but the mention about "export" (understood as outside of Weimar, probably only inside of german speaking countries) is a suposition argumented on the base that some german dictionnaries of this time documented the term "Bonbonnière à la Romaine", like the follow, in chronologic order:

# Bohn, Gottfried Christian Bohn / Norrmann, Gerhard Philipp Heinrich: "Waarenanlager, oder, Wörterbuch der Produkten- und Waarenkunde" (Hamburg: Bohn, 1805)
# Schedel, Johann Christian: "Neues und vollständiges, allgemeines Waaren-Lexikon" Band 1. (Offenbach am Mayn, 1814, other edition in 1850)
# Becker, Johann H.: "Versuch einer allgemeinen und besondern Nahrungsmittelkunde" Band 2. (Stendal: Frantze und Grosse, 1822)
# Heigelin, Johann Friedrich: "Allgemeines Fremdwörter-Handbuch für Teutsche Conversations-Sprache" (Tübingen: Osiander, 1838)
# Meyer, Hermann Julius: "Meyers Großem Conversations-Lexicon für die gebildete Stände" (1842)
# Vereine Gelehrter und praktischer Kaufleute: "Handels-Lexicon oder Encyclopädie der gesammten Handelswissenchaften für Kaufleute und Fabrikanten" Band 1. (Leipzig: Schäfer, 1849)

You can read all this dictionnaries definitions of "Bonbonnière à la Romaine" in Google books. Interesting is that the sugar cameos were used to teach children the old mythology. Probably after recognize every mythologic subject, was permited to eat the sugar cameo. Perhaps not very healty, but a very didactic system.

In my opinion the dated year 1792 is the oldest year of this folded model, but the conserved boxes were probably folded after, beause the decorations are not with tragacanth gum, but with the so in german called Luxus-Papier (cheapear als tragacanth gum). "Since 1792" could be perhaps a more acurate datation. Le Goullon death 1839, and as the mentioned dictionnaries show, the mode was after his death actual, but after the german revolution of 1848-49, the mentions of "Bombonière à la Romaine" dispair from the german dictionnaires, and as many of this 'aristocratic traditions' (like the napkin folded centerpieces, called "Schaugerichten" which last printed book was 1845), it was no more a mode, and probably remained forgotten until today. But the paper folding mode don't death and thanks Friedrich Froebel win a new impuls at the begin of the second half of the 19th. century.

In the exhibition catalog are printed two other pictures of one of this boxes (one in opened and one in closed position), and another picture of the other similar folded box, which is photographied together with other not folded boxes. Here I uploaded them. For all that want a better quality of the pictures, I recomend to buy the catalog (29,90 €). In the opened box is possible to see a little the interior of the box, and identify that perhaps is not really a masu box, as from the exterior we can supose. I hope it will be possible at the end of the exhibition a deeper folding research and analyse of both boxes, exceptional good conserved.

As the folded boxes that appairs in the middle of the 15th century in the Book of the hours of Catherine van Cleves, I think this wittness from 1792 can be very interesting for folding historians specialist in boxes, as David Lister. It show how old is the european folding tradition too, in this case on paper.

Today, everywhere many folders fold paper boxes but after fold them, the big majority of this objects remain empty, until they finish their life in a basket for paper. The folding activity itself is sadly the only interessant thing. Perhaps one more that we can learn from the folding culture in the past, is that when they created or folded a box, it was first with the thinking to be used and to put inside a concret something. Perhaps for this reason, two samples since 1792 are conserved. I want know how many of the actual folded origami boxes will be in the next 300 years so conserved as the ones in Weimar.

joan sallas
Goullon since 1792 Bonbonnière à la Romaine 1 - closed b.jpg
Goullon since 1792 Bonbonnière à la Romaine 1 - closed b.jpg (71.01 KiB) Viewed 18283 times
Goullon since 1792 - Bonbonnière a la Romaine 1 - open a.jpg
Goullon since 1792 - Bonbonnière a la Romaine 1 - open a.jpg (72.78 KiB) Viewed 18283 times
Goullon since 1792 Bonbonnière à la Romaine 2 - closed a.jpg
Goullon since 1792 Bonbonnière à la Romaine 2 - closed a.jpg (67.14 KiB) Viewed 18283 times
Weimar 1792.pdf
Flyer of the exhibition 'Kultur des Sinnlichen' with the picture of a twisted folded box from 1792 and some suggar cameos.
(1.16 MiB) Downloaded 813 times

Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:54 pm

Re: "Römische Bonbonieren" in Weimar (Germany) 1792

Post by jtbm71 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:47 pm

When I saw the 1792 box, it seemed to me like the one in the diagram I am attaching.

Good luck,

Jose Tomas Buitrago
FlowerBox.jpg (95.1 KiB) Viewed 18313 times

Michel G
Posts: 112
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:10 pm

Re: "Römische Bonbonieren" in Weimar (Germany) 1792

Post by Michel G » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:03 pm

This box (send by José Tomas) is a model by Clemente Giusto.
It was published in the BO mag 253 (December 2008) p5
and the diagram updated is available at
http://www.origami-resource-center.com/ ... Giusto.jpg
Last edited by Michel G on Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Edwin Corrie
Posts: 80
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:40 am

Re: "Römische Bonbonieren" in Weimar (Germany) 1792

Post by Edwin Corrie » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:50 am

I was intrigued by this and managed to find a reference in an old magazine called "Journal des Luxus und der Moden" from 1792:

http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jpo ... e_00084633

Click on the page image to see what seems to be a letter sent in by Francois le Goullon - probably the one discussed by Joan in his initial post, because it mentions the same details. It's a pity that M. le Goullon doesn't say anything about the folded boxes themselves.

"Bomboniere" are of course still widely used (certainly in Italy) to hold small items or pieces of confectionery as gifts for guests at weddings and other occasions, but they don't always use boxes made by folding alone.

I believe the origami version has been re-invented or re-discovered several times by various people. It appears in a book called "Invito all'origami" by Enio Capra (1985) under the title "Scatola ad incastro" [Locking Box] by Paola Filippi, who says it is simply a three-dimensional variation of the traditional Japanese "masu" box. I'm sure I've seen the model diagrammed elsewhere too.

Joan Sallas
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Weimar, Germany

Re: "Römische Bonbonieren" in Weimar (Germany) 1792

Post by Joan Sallas » Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:01 am

I enlarged my comment about the Bonbonnière à la Romaine and added some pictures.

Enjoy it at least as I enjoyed!

joan sallas

Michel G
Posts: 112
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:10 pm

Re: "Römische Bonbonieren" in Weimar (Germany) 1792

Post by Michel G » Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:11 pm

Another box, by Marc Vigo in 1996, which is more close to the out-side design of the "Bonbonieren" is available following

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