The Lister List

Railroad Train Models (Emanuel Mooser)

The differences between the American and British languages never cease to fascinate me. The British call them Railway Trains. Thr Americans call them Railroad Trains. Neither name is incorrect in either language and yet despite widespread sharing of books, magazines, films and television and despite the vast numbers of people who flit backwards and forwards across the Atlantic every day, we still persist in our repective idioms.

What I intended to say before I strayed from the path was that I have a diagram for Emanuel Mooser's original Train (and the diagram is headed just "Mooser's Train", neither railroad nor railway.).The diagram is dated 20th March 1867 and is by R.A.McLain. That would be Raymond McLain. The diagram is not the ordinary kind of folding instructions. Only a single diagram is given, namely, the crease pattern, together with notes in tiny handwriting on how to assemble the model.There is a sketch of the completed train at the top of the page.

The item is J 005 in the British Origami Society Library.

This model is of the greatest importance in the history of paperfolding. While there were one or two earlier, much simpler proto-examples of the technique, Mooser's Train is the first fully-fledged example of the technique of folding boxes or strings of linked boxes from one piece of paper, which was soon to be developed by Max Hulme and which eventually led to Robert Lang's Cuckoo Clocks .(Max Hulme, of course designed an improved Train, but Emanuel Mooser's was the first.) I call this technique "Box-folding", but others prefer the term "Box -pleating", a term which, in my opinion, should have a more limited application to designate one particular style of folding developed by Neal Elias". But I'm diverging.

I think that Raymond McLain's instructions for Mooser's train need to be amplified and drawn out fully, so that the model can be given the prominence it deserves. I have no skills whatsoever in diagramming. Perhaps someone else will have a go. And then it is possible that someone will make it generally available by publishing it. Of course, permissions must be obtained first, but I'm sure there would be no difficulty about that. The existing diagram is of too poor quality to send by E-mail, but if anyone would like to take up the challenge, please get in touch with me direct and we can dicuss the matter.

I have, for some time been accumulating information about Emanuel Mooser, who is Swiss and now retired, and I have been able to write to him. If anyone can tell me anything about him, his techniques or his models, please let me know In particular, he visited New York sometime in the 1960s and visited the Origami Center. I shall be grateful if anyne can tell me anything at all about this visit and especially the date. I thought there was a snippet about it in the Origamian, but I have been unable to find it.

I hope, when my research is as complete as I can make it to write it up in a BOS booklet, with diagrams for some of Dr. Mooser' models.

David Lister

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Rabbit by Stephen O'Hanlon