Archive for September, 2010
Although cuckoo clocks are obviously the first things that come to mind when you think of birds and timepieces, these two seemingly dissimilar things have been connected for thousands of years. Around 250 BC, Ctesibius, a Greek mathematician, developed a timekeeping device that used a Rube Goldberg-esque model to make an owl move. Later, in the Middle Ages, there’s evidence of a mechanical clock which used a bird to sound the hours. Additionally, the Heritage Museum in St. Petersburg is home to a famous golden peacock standing over six feet tall.
Nobody knows for certain how or why bird began being used in clocks, but some breeds obviously make more since than others. Understandably, roosters have often been associated with timekeeping mechanisms for their habit of meeting the dawn with crowing.
Cuckoo clocks have become inextricably tied to the Black Forest, but the first known reference to the modern style German cuckoo clocks actually came out of Augsburg in the mid-1600s. No one knows for sure when the first cuckoo clock appeared in the Black Forest, but by the mid-1700s there were several clockmaking shops located throughout the region.
There are conflicting legends as to how to cuckoo clock came to be, but nobody disputes the fact that its design was borrowed from the iconic Black Forest architecture. Over the years, the basic mechanisms within the clock have remained constant, but there have been several updates and modifications to the outside of the clocks.