Archive for the ‘Musical Clocks’ Category
There are certain things from living in my childhood home with my parents that still really stick out to me. It’s funny how the strangest, most insignificant aspects of your childhood are often the things that stand out the most in your mind even decades later. I know that my parents had told me that this had happened to them, but it’s very strange when it starts happening to you.
My parents had musical cuckoo clocks in a couple of different rooms in our house. I remember that they would always go off synchronized on the hour and the little songs that came out of them would always get stuck in my head. Every now and then, those songs still get stuck in my head even though I haven’t lived with my parents in years.
We own two cats named Fluffy and Furball. (Yes, I realize the names are pretty stereotypical, but that’s what happens when you let your five-year-old daughter name the family pets). The two of them have a funny tradition that involves our musical cuckoo clocks.
Every hour on the hour the clocks play a musical medley. Wherever Fluffy and Furball are in the home they drop whatever they are doing and rush to the clocks. Then they sit there, very intently, side-by-side and watch the clocks until the music ends. It’s so hysterical! I really need to capture it on video.
Since its founding in 1988, River City Clocks has become the largest importer of Black Forest cuckoo clocks to North America. The St. Louis, Missouri based company imports clocks from other areas of Europe as well. Price wise, River City cuckoo clocks run the gamut from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. It’s all dependent on the intricacy of design and materials used in construction.
Though River City cuckoo clocks come in a variety of styles, including some whimsical novelty clocks, my favorites are still the traditional German Black Forest style clocks. One day and eight day clocks just have a certain authenticity to them that I admire. The traditional German weather house clocks, with their men and women figures that pop out on the hour, are also quite charming.
Shopping for the holidays can be a pain. No one wants to stalk people coming from the stores just to find a parking spot. Not to mention the crowds of irritable shoppers all vying for the same games and latest gadgets. Besides, you want your presents to your loved ones to be memorable. You want to give them an item they can cherish that won’t become obsolete within a year.
A cuckoo clock is an excellent gift choice. It’s decorative so it can serve as an art piece and it’s functional. Did we mention whimsy? There is definitely a lot of whimsy associated with cuckoo clocks, especially musical cuckoo clocks. You can purchase intricately carved and painted cuckoo clocks that play short musical interludes on the hour or half-hour, depending on your preference. Figurines that dance, drink beer, and chop wood along to the music are sure to bring joy and laughter to the recipient.
My grandparents, like many of the other senior citizens I’ve encountered in my life, love to collect things. Thankfully they haven’t gone too overboard, but my grandma does have several china cabinets, bookshelves and curios which are chockfull of little tchotchkes. She’s been collecting little figurines and glass statuettes for decades, so her collection is extensive.
As an engineer, my grandfather is drawn to any type of machinery or mechanisms. But the one thing that interests him the most is antique clocks. He’s converted his garage into a workshop where he repairs and restores old clocks that he finds at antique stores, garage sales, Craig’s List…pretty much anywhere. You’ll find every type of clock you can imagine in his workshop—from ornate anniversary clocks to eight day cuckoo clocks.
New cuckoo clocks are still among of the most sought after souvenirs of vacations in the heart of Europe and especially in Germany’s Black Forest region. My suitcases are full as I conclude this trip abroad. I know that in America, many families can trace their roots to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other European localities where cuckoo clocks are traditional ornaments for the home. Consequently, there is a market in America for clocks that represent the best traditions of cuckoo clock making.
The sound making devices are attached to the top of the clock. These include the pipes and bellows for the cuckoo sound and the music box. Attachments that are usually extensions of drive chains are linked to the sets of wire hooks and metal cams and pins that activate the cuckoo and any other moving figures and the doors. The cuckoo is connected to its bellows operation, and the other figures are mobilized by the strike movement. A third movement initiates the playing of the music box. Finally, the pendulum and weight chains are connected to the movement and the lead weights are clipped to the chain ends.
The assembled musical cuckoo clocks are carefully packaged to protect the moving parts and the delicate carved framework. Individually boxed clocks are packed in cartons for shipping and distribution. It makes it very easy to get them home safely.
Even though some models of cuckoo clocks are now outfitted with quartz movements and electronics, part of the cuckoo clock’s charm may be its old fashioned mechanical movement. When paired with beautifully carved wood and rustic style, the spell of the cuckoo’s song on the hour is guaranteed to bring smiles to those who prize childlike delights and exquisite craftsmanship for years to come.
I hope you have enjoyed sharing my European travels with you. Thanks for traveling with me.
The cuckoo clock is a celebrated part of German tradition; it’s recognized as much for its precision and timekeeping abilities as its exquisite design sense. As with any mechanical clock, problems are bound to surface sooner or later – but it’s not cause for alarm. Before you send your musical cuckoo clocks to a repair shop, see what you can do on your own. Whether you’re experiencing pendulum problems or issues with timekeeping, a do-it-yourself technique could serve you well.
Cuckoo clocks operate with the use of a precise timing train. If the chain attached to the clock’s sprocket wheel comes off, it’s easy enough to diagnose the problem. Lift one of the weights and listen for a clicking sound. If there’s no sound and no tension when pulling the weight, you’ll know the chain has come off. Don’t make any rash decisions; if you cannot replace the chain onto the sprocket without taking the clock apart entirely, it’s best to trust the process to a professional.
Eight Day Cuckoo Clocks work completely the same as the one day clocks. 8-day cuckoo clocks are pendulum driven, but need only to be wound every eight days. The size of the weights are much heavier in the eight day clock versus the one day clock. These will be more expensive, but in my opinion are worth the difference.
Musical eight day Cuckoo Clocks have a third weight added under the clock for the tunes that are played. On the hour the cuckoo bird will announce the hour with the correct number of calls, and then a melody plays. Two tunes are offered with the aid of a Swiss music box where the notes are plucked on a rotating drum. On the half hour the bird will “Cuckoo” one time only and then a second melody will play. Most often the melodies produced in the clock are “The Happy Wanderer”, or “Edelweis”. Musical cuckoo clocks often have animated figures which move when the music box plays. Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks from Germany are the world’s finest. These hand-carved masterpieces feature precision mechanical movements, detailed craftsmanship, moving figurines, and music to delight you.
What’s your favorite style?
The word “Chalet” originates in Switzerland and describes a type of Alpine wooden hut that has been used for many years by sheep and goat herders. At the end of the nineteenth century the style of Chalet Cuckoo Clocks became very popular in Switzerland ,and they were highly prized by tourists who loved the Clocks as Swiss souvenirs.
Actually there are three basic chalet styles of Cuckoo Clocks, and two of them originate in the Swiss Alps. One is from the village of Brienz which is in the Canton of Bern, Switzerland. The other shape of chalet is Emmental which has a steep roof which has a large overhang that almost reaches to the ground. Yet another type of the chalet style is Bavarian and also has the steep roof and an overhang. The Bavarian Chalet is my favorite and by far the most popular model for the addition of a music box which plays melodies. Often the wooden case of the clock is decorated with carved leaves, birds and animal heads. On most Cuckoo Clocks the dial displays Roman numerals. Musical cuckoo clocks can be found with both one day movements and eight day movements.
More on eight day movements in my next article.