Many years ago I sold my entire model railway to buy (of all bloody things) a motorcycle......a short-lived thing, which I also nearly became. Shameful thing in hindsight, but youth does funny things to people (probably IS wasted on the young)
But I have never stopped loving model railways/roads and often when I am in a newsagency I find myself browsing through and enjoying Railway Modeller and so on.
My question today is this:
Each year I and my mates would eagerly await the release of the beautifully presented Tri-ang and then the Hornby Annual Catalogues. And each year we would search the hand painted cover for "our little mate". This was a mouse, hidden somewhere on the cover of the catalogue.
I am keen to know if after all these years, the mouse is still there somewhere or has corporate downsizing despatched him too?
The mouse was a trademark, not of Triang or Hornby, but of the artist, Terence Cuneo, who lived from 1907 to 1996.
He was famous for his paintings of railway and engineering subjects as well as military ones, all of which contained the little mouse positioned in such a way that it always gave one several minutes pleasure searching for it.
A Google search will reveal several books about him and even a few of his paintings. His autobiography was entiled "The Mouse and His Master"
Many of his pictures were commissioned by the British railway companies to be displayed a posters at stations.
A statue to him was recently unveiled at Waterloo Station by the Princess Royal. See
Recent Hornby catalogues have had entirely different covers.
The Mouse was the 'trademark' of the artist Terrence Cuneo, nothing to do with Hornby. As they haven't used his art for a number of years the answer would have to be no - the mouse is no longer there (but if you buy Cuneo artwork you'll find it there).
I must ask: is the loss of covers that gave such pleasure to many, a sign that Hornby has also moved away from its primary focus of giving joy, or is it simply a sign of the times, that design must move forward to stay fresh and relevant?
Bloody convoluted question I know, but these things always make me wonder, as I work in the field of Graphic Design, helping companies stay relevant throughout all the changes they must undergo to survive.
Thanks again for responding - I will look further into his work and try to find somewhere to buy some prints.....
I'm just a Yank who has developed a fondness for British steam after many all-expenses-paid trips to the submarine base at Holy Loch and on subsequent business and pleasure trips, and have acquired a dozen or more Hornby catalogs over the years. Most of the recent ones have photographic covers, and I had to go back to my oldest, a 1974-5, to find a Cuneo painting. But after a little study, sure enough, there on the fence rail watching the passing LMS express with the two children, was a little mouse. Thanks for sharing this bit of esoterica. I can just image the pleasure it gave each year. Gary Q
Obviously I cannot speak for Hornby's present marketing strategy but would comment that when Hornby were using Cuneo's paintings on their covers, these depicted fairly contemporary scenes. Any Cuneo paintings used nowadays would have to be of scenes around 40 years old, perhaps not the image wanted. Indeed, is Cuneo still as instantly recognisable as he was in his heyday and his posters were seen on virtually every station? Indeed, the sight of a Cuneo painting on the catalogue cover probably subconsciously linked Hornby directly to the contemporary railway scene where many of the customers who frequented contemporary stations felt very at home among Cuneo posters.
Hornby have recently been aiming their products at a different market, instead of schoolboys and the relatively impoverished young students and apprentices, their recent models are more accurate and expensive and aimed more at the serious adult.
Hornby are certainly not downsizing, rather going in the opposite direction. They have bought the Spanish Electrotren company earlier this year and have just completed a take over of the assets of the bankrupt Italian Lima group. Their strategy is to play a more international part in the model railway market as well as other associated fields.
I'm no graphic designer but from many years of reading catalogues for a wide range of products as well as railways, have noticed that it is possible to not only approximately date a catalogue by its style but in many cases identify its country of origin by the style and typefaces used quite separately from the language and the sometimes famous names used. perhaps it was just time for Hornby to move on.
Ultimately, of course the ultimate purpose of a catalogue is not to entertain the reader per se, but to persuade him to buy your product. Obviously a little entertainment along the way does no harm but is only one of many different ways the catalogue can provide an enjoyable read
The fact that Terence Cuneo is dead has probably slowed his output! ;-) A slapped together collage of existing artwork or a dollyed up photograph is probably cheaper than a commissioned painting anyway.
I hear what you're saying and agree with much of it - though I believe an annual catalogue should and can be truly an "event." And especially so, when the rapidly emerging market is global collectors and fanatics. Also, I believe that the images depicted on the covers of the catalogues were not of contemporary scenes, and though my recollection is vague, I think they were more, scenes depicting the flagships of the firm's offering. As I said, I may be wrong on that one and probably am...... though again, is the vast majority of Hornby's market (asking sincere info here, as I have only just returned to the interest after 30yrs) for contemporary locomotives and rolling stock or is it for classic steam and so forth? note: I am now at what I believe to be the actual Hornby site and will check it out for myself ...... when I searched for it the other day, I got hornbyrail.com or something.
You are probably correct that it was just time for Hornby to move on from the past and enter full-on, the contemporary world of rail. Know what you mean about identifying a range of things about a publication by things other than language. It is a critical element of design to be able to do that, especially when working to recreate a certain "feel".
Not quite true, Terence Cuneo's early paintings *did not* contain a mouse, they were a later addition (1953 Coronation maybe). This might save you some time looking for something that is not there :-) If I remember reading correctly, some early ones were of royality & the like were mouse free, but the all important railway & industrial scenes
The mice became such a feature that in later paintings the mice appeared in full uniform as military or railway personnel.