Märklin Style - A Story of Industrial Design in Model Railway

Per i lettori italiani: questa sezione è scritta in inglese, in modo da rivolgersi anche agli appassionati Märklin stranieri. Viene presentata l'evoluzione dei prodotti Märklin nel corso dei decenni, dal punto di vista del "design", cioè delle forme estetiche e stilistiche con cui l'azienda si presenta al pubblico.
Questo comprende innanzitutto le copertine dei cataloghi annuali, integralmente riprodotte dall'anno 1950 ad oggi, quindi gli esempi più significativi di tutte le altre forme di "comunicazione grafica", come le istruzioni dei modelli, le confezioni, le illustrazioni sui cataloghi per le quali vengono presentati molti esempi dell'ultimo mezzo secolo.

I nuovi articoli del mondo Märklin

NUOVO! Immagini selezionate dai cataloghi: una panoramica di storia ferroviaria tedesca, e insieme di grafica e design industriale, attraverso pagine scelte dei cataloghi Märklin, dal 1952 al 2007.

Le carrozze Märklin da 24 cm: le versioni originali di queste affascinanti carrozze e quelle ridipinte in colorazione FS (in italiano).

Come sono fatte le carrozze in lamierino: viste esplose e l'analisi di tutti i pezzi che le compongono (in italiano).

La longevità a catalogo dei modelli Märklin: al giorno d'oggi sembra incredibile che alcuni articoli siano rimasti in produzione per più di mezzo secolo! L'analisi dei modelli più longevi è un'occasione per riscoprire la storia di Märklin, in un dettagliato e ricco articolo (in inglese).

Anche Tigro osserva ammirato il classico segnale di avviso Märklin rimasto in produzione immutato per 54 anni dal 1953 al 2006 (questo esemplare, prodotto verso il 1960, è stato acquistato usato per 15 Euro nel 2009 in un negozio di Hannover).
Even Tigger appreciates the classic Märklin distant signal no. 7038, in stock between 1953 and 2006.

 

Uno sguardo sotto il mantello: la meccanica tradizionale Märklin e lo schema elettrico delle locomotive.

Un cablaggio inedito permette di trasformare una locomotiva a corrente continua in una locomotiva universale per funzionamento a 2 e 3 rotaie semplicemente girando il deviatore che in origine serviva per l'alimentazione dal pantografo (in italiano).


Many websites deal with Märklin models. An interesting list can be found at www.macbeth66.com/marklin/diary/links-marklin.html. This list shows that the most common topic for Märklin-related sites is Digital, followed by private layouts.
But a firm which has been producing models for more than a century is also worth to be investigated from the point of view of the historian.
In these pages I would like to follow a topic that seems to be relatively neglected: the evolution of graphical communication through the years. It will include catalogue covers and illustrations, instructions and packages of the models and so on. I think all this can lead to a style - more precisely: the continuous evolution of a style - that I called The Märklin Style.

At present, these pages mainly deal with H0 scale. A Z Style will follow in the next update.


Catalogue Covers

Märklin has been issuing a catalogue, each year, at least from the Thirties, up to the present days. It is therefore natural that catalogue covers represent the first way to investigate how the firm presents itself to its customers. From the soft watercolours of the Fifties up to super-realistic models and dioramas of the last years, the perception of railway modelling through decades is written in the colours of more than 60 catalogue covers.
They are available here:

And furthermore a selection of some of the best milestones in Märklin covers are shown here in large size (may take some time to load).


NEW! Selected Catalogue Pages

Also pages inside the catalogues are useful to investigate the world of Märklin railway, and of railways in general, from early Fifties to 2007. And in most cases they can also be seen as beautiful pictures, truly conveying the fascination of this world.

Open picture gallery.

Digital images come from the precious work of Spanish Lista de Correo de Trenes Märklin which I would like to thank once again.


Packages: the World in Blue

Yes, for those who grew up from late Sixties to middle Eighties (and I'm among them), Märklin models are the blue boxes.
The light blue box appeared around 1965, became dark blue in 1969 and remained such up to 1988, when it was gradually replaced by the present white boxes.
More detailed information on box styles are here, including many photos.

Instructions: a Style in Technical Data

The instructions shipped with each model are another way to explore the evolution of the Märklin style, from the traditional leaflets of the Sixties, one for each article, with multilanguage texts, to the folded sheets of the Seventies, valid for a lot of articles and almost devoid of text.
Some examples are shown here.

Presenting a Model Through Years

Many models have been produced for decades. How is their representation on catalogue changing through years? Let's select a well-known model: the 3035 (Italian E-lok E.424) and follow it from 1960's to 1990's!
Go here.

Layout Building in the Sixties

These pictures are taken from the Track Layout Books, not from catalogues. The photos can be found here.

The Real Railways: Photos from the Catalogues

Up to middle Eighties, the catalogues contained also pictures of real trains, in some cases with very beautiful photos.
Some examples are shown here. I've selected pictures contemporary to each catalogue: after so many years, all have become "historical" photos!


24-cm Sheet Metal (Tin-Plate) Coaches

The 24-cm "Tin-Plate" Coaches, discontinued in 2001, represent one of the most characterising models of the traditional Märklin production.

An inside view of Tin-Plate coaches with exploded-view photos and the list of components.


The Longevity of Märklin Models

In our modern world it seems almost incredible that a single article remained in stock for more than 50 years. But this happened for many Märklin models! Let us discover how long each model has been produced in a detailed and surprising article.


Looking under the Body: the Classic Märklin Engine

The traditional AC motor and mechanical switching unit have disappeared in new Märklin locos, but they still represent the true Märklin Style.


Using Standard DC Engines on a 3-Rail Track System

An unusual electric scheme can be used to create a universal loco suitable for running on both 2 and 3 rail layouts by simply turning the switch that was originally used for catenary operation.

 


And when you do not have a professional train to run... E.424.292 (1st edition, as delivered in 1988, standard relay, no digital!) can make a trip to Cinderella and Princess Aurora!! This is Märklin

 


Related articles

Rivarossi: short comments about the most famous Italian model railroad manufacturer.

The Toy Museum in Ormea (Italy) with railway models from 1920-1930's.

Articles on Railway Archaeology.


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