Where Is...

For a long time, I have many unanswered questions in tessellation-related matters concerning people, of which this concerns their works or of the person themselves. I would dearly like to track these people down (some now possibly deceased), or can anyone tell me what became of them and hear their story. Below I show the person I am interested in, with the point of interest in brackets and the query.

Richard E. James III (Pentagon Tilings)
Does anyone know what became of Richard E. James came to prominence as the discoverer of a type 10 pentagon in 1975. All that is known is that he was a computer scientist with the Control Data Corporation from California, and that’s it!  Did he continue his studies and his work on pentagons? Is there a picture of him? Are you there, Richard?

Rolf Stein (Pentagon Tilings)
Does anyone know what became of Rolf Stein a pentagon type discoverer, a type 14 in 1985, of which next to nothing is known of him. All that is known of Stein (from Doris Schattschneider's article) is that he is a graduate mathematics student at the University of Dortmund, Germany, and that’s it! Again, did he continue his studies and his work on pentagons? Is there a picture of him? Are you there, Rolf?

Charles Platt and Michael Moorcroft (Author and Editor of an Escher Publication) 
Charles Platt and Michael Moorcroft have an Escher connection in that they are the author (and editor) of an Escher article (and featuring ‘Relativity’ on the front cover) in New Worlds Speculative Fiction, ‘Expressing the Abstract’, of July 1967. It would be nice to know from him as to how this article arose. Many questions remain, such as was Escher contacted preceding this, and if so what was his opinion. Upon looking for him, it is evident that he is still alive, and indeed active, at the age of 71, but his contact details remain elusive. His associate of the time, and also likely in connection with the article, Michael Moorcock, is also still with us, but he too remains elusive. Are you there, Charles and Michael?

Joseph L. Teeters (Escher-like tessellations)

Does anyone know what became of Joseph L. Teeters, of Michigan, USA, who seemed to flourish in the mid-1970s being disappearing into obscurity. What became of him? Are you there, Joseph?


Michio Kubo (Japanese Tessellator)

Michio Kubo has a tessellation of ‘cats’ (my own description) dated 1968, in the book The Sense of Order by E. H. Gombrich, and that’s it! What became him? I asked the Japanese Tessellation Association for any details about him, but he was unknown to them. Are you there, Michio?

UPDATE 11 September 2017 and 26 November 2020.

Details of Kubo have been found; Yoshiaki Araki has found a book by him, with more of his tessellations, and from this made contact with him (2020), although I would still like to know more. He is still be alive.

‘Sef of Spoonflower’ (Tessellation Artist)
‘Sef of Spoonflower’ has many Escher-like tessellations on his Spoonflower fabric site (a commercial operation), with a brief biography:
Maths, science, computing and music specialist with side interests in dancing, font design, Celtic knotwork etc
Upon being suitably impressed by his work to follow up, I enquired of him on that site, to which he was somewhat obscure, in two mails, saying:
I don't publicise. I figure if people genuinely want what I offer they'll find it for themselves. … I'm retired ….  Yes, I have a website but, like me, it's very old school rather than a flashy modern thing.
His proper name and website went unresolved, and I can’t find it! All most strange. Are you there, Sef?

Peter S. Stevens (Tessellations)
Does anyone know what became of Peter S. Stevens, born 1936, an architect, and a graduate of the Harvard School of Design, USA? Among his publications, in particular, was Handbook of Regular Patterns, this featuring some of his Escher-like tessellation artwork. Seemingly little is known of him, beyond details on the flyleaf on another of his books, Patterns in Nature:
Born in 1936, a graduate of the Harvard School of Design, Peter S. Stevens is an architect who has specialized in acoustics and in the development of prototype designs for underwater structures. Currently, he is director of the Architectural Planning Office for the Harvard Medical Area. He is also a painter and photographer. PATTERNS IN NATURE was funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship while Mr. Stevens was a Lecturer in Visual and Environmental Studies at the Carpenter Visual Arts Center at Harvard University.
Did he continue his work in tessellation? Are you there, Peter?

Margaret Hayden Richardson (Cluster Puzzles)
Does anyone know what became of Margaret Hayden Richardson’s papers and artefacts? Richardson, of New York City, and later Dennis, Massachusetts, USA, was a famed jigsaw puzzle designer, titled under ‘Perplexity’, between 1908 and 1910. However, although married, she had no children, and so there are no known family archives in existence. Her one cluster puzzle, ‘A Bad Dream’ is perhaps the most important of all, being the apparent first (or at least is clearly unambiguous), with many questions arising thereof. What gave her the idea? Have the preliminary drawings and history somehow survived? Her husband was the son of was a notable architect, H. H. Richardson, perhaps the papers/artefacts may be in the possession of the Richardson family?
UPDATE: I have examined the donated papers by Anne Williamson, the jigsaw puzzle authority, on Richardson, held at the Strong Museum, US, but there is still nothing on her cluster puzzle.

Arthur W. Nugent/N. A. Nugent Jr. (Cluster Puzzles)
Does anyone know what became of Art Nugent, who died in 1975, although it appears his son, N. A. Nugent Jr. is still alive and active, and who undoubtedly can add more to the story. As such, it appears he has taken over his father’s ‘Funland’ comics, albeit beyond that little is known about him, save for studying at Syracuse University, Newark School Art; even his first and second name is not known! There is much I would like to know about Art. Have the original drawings of his 1930s cluster puzzles/jigsaw work survived? Are there more? Are you there, N. A. Nugent Jr?

Elspeth Eagle-Clarke (Cluster Puzzles)
Are there any descendants of Elspeth Eagle-Clarke, of Filey, Yorkshire, UK, a noted illustrator and jigsaw puzzle designer, for Chad Valley, of 1934? Despite extensive searches, I have not been able to find any. Her place in cluster puzzle history is most significant, being one of the early forerunners, with many questions arising thereof. What gave her the idea? Have the preliminary drawing survived in the family archives? Are you there, the descendants of Elspeth?

UPDATE: A granddaughter of Elsepth has been found.

Jane and Bill Leach of Greenwich, Connecticut (Cluster Puzzles)
Does anyone have details of Jane and Bill Leach, last known of Greenwich, Connecticut, USA in 1994? Bob Armstrong, the jigsaw authority and puzzle collector, tells me that they were the previous owners of the ‘A Bad Dream’ puzzle by Margaret Richardson, now in the Armstrong collection. Possibly they may have some more detail on this historical artefact, believed to be the first unambiguous example of a cluster puzzle, and so of the utmost importance in a historical sense. Are you there, Jane and Bill?

Philip Gell (Cluster Puzzles)
Does anyone know what became of Philip Gell, a graphic designer from the UK? Gell is of note in that he designed a notable cluster puzzle, of a Noah’s Ark, about 1980, and of which with he won the London Design Centre Award in 1982. For a time he was an associate of the children’s jigsaw maker George Luck, of which the puzzle was produced commercially in tandem. I contacted Luck, but he could add little to what was already known. Are you there, Philip?

‘Croton’ (Cairo Tiling)
Does anyone know who is and what became of ‘Croton’, a pseudo name for a crossword compiler for The Listener of the 1950s? Croton used as a framework for his puzzles the Cairo tiling, not once but twice, and so given the early date for its appearance is thus of more interest than of latter-day concerns. The Listener website has a page where the compilers names are given, but unfortunately, ‘Croton’ is one of the few entries for which a name is not available. I tried contacting The Listener authorities for further details, of which although I received a reply they were unable to tell me who he or she was. Are you there, Croton?

C. H. A. Broos (Escher Tessellations)
Does anyone know what became of C. H. A. Broos, ex-curator of Modern Art, Municipal Museum, The Hague, Netherlands, and seemingly a Dutch author (of at least five books to his name), art historian and commentator? Of particular interest is an insightful essay he wrote in The World of M. C. Escher ‘Escher; Science and Fiction’, in which he compiles the first listing of Escher’s work used in popular culture on album and book covers. I would like to ask him on this. He seems to have flourished in the 1970s, but nothing of him has been heard since. Possibly he has died. Further, oddly, only the initials of his name are known! Are you there, C. H. A. Broos?

Josephine Mold (Geometric Tessellations)
Does anyone know what became of the mathematics author Josephine Mold? She wrote a series of geometric books ostensibly for children, under the umbrella ‘Topics from Mathematics’ from Cambridge University Press of the late 1960s-early 1970s. One book, in particular, Tessellations, has a page on which she refers to a tiling ‘on the floor of an old shop in Windsor’ that I would very much like to find out more about. She seems to have flourished in the 1960s, but nothing of her has been heard since. There are seemingly no other publications. Possibly she has died. Are you there, Josephine Mold?

A. E. Hill (Geometrical Dissections)
Does anyone know what became, or more precisely who was, Mr A. E. Hill? Hill rose to (semi) fame in 1926 as a result of sending in an elegant solution to a geometrical dissection puzzle, of a Maltese Cross to a square, proposed by the puzzle authority (and dissection expert) Henry Ernest Dudeney. However, Dudeney did not give any further details of him, and for now, nothing is known of him. Greg Frederickson, also an authority on geometrical dissections, made some speculations as to who he may have been, but the matter has still to be resolved:
Does anyone know of the mysterious Mr A. E. Hill?

James Travers (Geometrical Dissections/Henry Ernest Dudeney
Does anyone know what became, or know more about, James Travers?  Travers is of interest as regards his connection to the puzzlist Henry Ernest Dudeney, of whom he posthumously edited two of his puzzle books A Puzzle-Mine and Puzzles and Curious Problems. Seemingly little is known about Travers. An Irishman, he was headmaster of Peterborough College, Harrow, London (as an aside, among his qualifications is an ‘MRST’; I have not been able to find out what this is. Does anyone know?). He is described in Diane Crook’s book on Alice Dudeney’s diaries [1], p. 185, as having with a wife and seven children. Travers is also known in the field of geometric dissection, of which he erroneously (and outrageously?) claimed, in 1952, undue credit for an octagon to a square (and one other). The story is told in Greg Frederickson [2], p. 152. Of interest is his interaction with Dudeney. He subsequently borrowed three books from Alice Dudeney and later bought more, but which these are is not (seemingly) known. It would be interesting to know of these (and indeed of Dudeney’s wider library). Would anyone know more about Travers’ life? On the web, he is essentially anonymous. Are you there, any descendants of his seven children?
[1] Crook, Diana (editor). Mrs Henry Dudeney. A Lewes Diary 1916-1944. Tarturus Press 1998.
[2] Frederickson, Greg N. Dissections: Plane & Fancy. Cambridge University Press 1997.

UPDATE 24 August 2021. Much can now be added to the above. 'MRST' stands for Member of the Royal Society of Teachers.

An obituary has been found, by Steve Kirby (5 June 2021), which gives a broad overview, with much not previously known. Also Maurice O'Reilly (16 March 2021), a first cousin of his grandfather, Charles O'Reilly, has provided a family spreadsheet of considerable depth.

James Travers obituary in the Harrow Observer, 20 March, 1952

Google Spreadsheet

Maurice O'Reilly Family Spreadsheet.
Can anyone add to the above?

Priscilla Chung (Houndstooth)

Does anyone know what became, or know more about, Priscilla Chung? Priscilla is of interest in regards of her work on the history of the houndstooth tessellation, with the article of sorts ‘The evolution of motifs in fashion’, of 2011 for Imprint (NYC). This is a splendidly researched article, with much detail not previously known. I would like to ask her more. However, she appears to delight in anonymity. No background detail (in fashion?), email, institution (if any), and no presence on social media (Facebook and Twitter). However, from her picture, she is obviously quite young. Are you there, Priscilla?

Relatives of Dr Thomas E. Foster (Tangrams)
Does anyone know the whereabouts of relatives of Dr Thomas E. Foster, who was a US maths professor, and an authority on tangrams? Sadly, Foster died in 2015. Foster wrote many books on tangrams, and one in particular is predicated on tessellation, Amazing Tangram Tessellations. This showed a series of Escher-like tessellations consisting of the seven pieces, something of which appears to have been new idea, and quite good they are too. Seemingly little is known about him. The best source is an obituary on the dignitymemorial site, of which I take the information below. I would like to make his work in this field more well known, showing the preparatory studies underlying the work, as well as any unpublished work. However, although mentioned, on the site above, the surviving relatives are not easily found. Where are you, Janet McGehee Foster (wife) of Trenton, Tennessee; Eric Lynn Foster (son) and Rhonda (wife) of Flower Mound, Texas; Emily Lorraine Becker (daughter) and Joseph (husband) of Hayden, Colorado? I would dearly like to know if his papers on this have survived. Aside from a general Google search, I have also checked Facebook and Twitter, of which it would appear none of the above are to be found there.

Stanford A. Graham (Cluster Puzzles)

Does anyone know what became of Stanford A. Graham, an attorney (possibly retired) from Layton, Utah, US? He has three commercial cluster puzzles to his name of which I would like to know more about, as well as the man himself. Are you there, Stanford? Do tell me your story!

David Bird (Polyominoes)

Does anyone know what became of David Bird, of North Shields, UK, who came to prominence in an article on polyominoes, polyiamonds and polyhexes by Martin Gardner in Scientific American, August 1975? This article showed some breathtaking large-scale octomino tilings, using all 360 octominoes just the once, with various symmetries, seemingly undertaken between the years 1965-1967. He also later, in 1972-1973, turned his attention to enneominoes, of the same principles as with octominoes. More or less contemporary with the Gardner article, he also published his own paper, ‘The Known World of Octiamonds’ in Journal of Recreational Mathematics, of the same year. However, subsequent to these studies he has seemingly vanished without a trace.

Beyond the barebone detail above of his location, nothing is known of him! Did he continue his studies and his work on polyominoes? Is he still alive? Is there a picture of him? Are you there, David? Do tell me your story!


Margaret Hayden Richardson, Arthur W. Nugent/N. A. Nugent Jr., Elspeth Eagle-Clarke all added 15 November. Jane and Bill Leach 20 December. Richardson entry notably revised 22 December.

16 January, Philip Gell 14 February, Peter S. Stevens 11 September, C. H. A. Broos 22 September, Josephine Mold 2 November

A. E. Hill 28 February, James Travers 29 March, Priscilla Chung 14 November

Dr Thomas E. Foster relatives, 7 May

Stanford A. Graham 26 October, David Bird 26 November

James Travers entry updated with details by Maurice O'Reilly (family research) and Steve Kirby (obituary) 24 August

Page Created 28 October 2016. Last updated 24 August 2021