18th Century Kites in Western Europe and America

This linkspage focuses largely on kites in England and the American colonies. Kites also appear in 18th century artwork from China, Japan, and India.

Written references lead me to believe that many 18th century kites were made of paper (e.g. Dr. Hooper’s Rational Recreations, To the Palladium Author and Correspondents).

Kites seem to have been considered a plaything for boys in the 18th century. In every image here, only boys are playing with kites; several English literary examples refer to them as “boys’ kites” or “schoolboys’ kites.” There are some illustrations where girls are watching boys play with kites, or holding some part of the kite.

From A View of the Weekly Journals in The Gentleman's Magazine in 1746, for example:

Weſtminſter Journal, Aug. 16. Contains a diſſertation on the art of kite-making, and ſome hints for improvement. The diverſion of kite-flying, which, tho’ omitted by Ainſworth, probably as a childiſh thing, the author obſerves, cannot be juſtly conſider’d as the mere paſtime of boys; ſince the ingenious Mr Condell, who has imitated the figure and motion of the living kite in the paper one, frequently amuſes himſelf with flying it, as well asw ſeveral other perſons, who are men, as far as age and ſtature can make them ſo. — To render this contrivance uſeful as well as entertaining, he hints (among other fancies) that a good artificial kite, dextrouſly play’d, may keep partridges couched on the ground till the net can be drawn over them; and that the likeneſs of the Duke of Cumberland flown over the Highlands would have the ſame effect on the ſkulking rebels.