Archive for the ‘Traditional Cuckoo Clocks’ Category
As time goes on, I’ve noticed that there are so many different kinds of clocks these days; there’s enough to make your head spin. Excluding watches and digital clocks that are on every single new-fangled device that’s out there, there are grandfather clocks and wall clocks, desk clocks, and clocks for pretty much every area in the house. They come in all shapes and sizes and every house has got them.
I’ve personally always opted out of fancy digital alarm clocks or hokey novelty clocks. The clocks in my home are exclusively hand made cuckoo clocks. I like having clocks that I know were made carefully by hand rather than in a factory somewhere, I think it adds a bit of extra elegance to my home.
I started working at a used bookstore over the summer; it’s in an interesting part of town where there a lot of little neat mom-and-pop shops of different varieties. There aren’t really any chain stores in sight, at least for the small block where the stores are located at. I kind of like that because it feels like it adds a bit of uniqueness and charm to our town.
There are a lot of nifty little stores in the area. For instance, the antique shop next door has a lot of handcrafted cuckoo clocks and other interesting and unique items. There’s also an independent video game store, which I’ve found to be really quite rare, as well as a comic book shop in the area as well. There are a lot of places that really adhere to people with certain kinds of collections.
My grandmother used to own an antique store, which had all sorts of interesting items for sale in it. She had a lot of ceramic collectibles of different animals, which I always enjoyed looking at as a child. Probably the most extravagant part of her antique collection, however, was the section she had squared away simply for containing clocks.
I remember there being all sorts of clocks in that section! She had bracket clocks and decimal clocks and handmade cuckoo clocks in there. For a kid like me, I was always interested in looking at all of them. To this day, I never purchase any digital clocks because I was so intrigued by all the varieties of analog clock that my grandmother had in her store.
Manufacture of cuckoo clocks begin in the hands of the wood worker. Like the architecture here in Barcelona, they are masterful artists. The craftsman selects the pieces of wood to be used for the particular clock and cuts them to the approximate lengths and shapes he will need. Power tools and hand tools are used for this part of the process; hand tools may include measuring tools, saws, rasps, and files for shaping, drilling tools, abrasives including sandpaper, and adhesives and clamps. The box-like case or cabinet for the clock works is cut, fitted, and glued together.
The outer frame, the decorative part of the clock featuring the traditional forest and chalet scene, begins with a stenciled design on paper. The craftsmen make and collect sets of stencils based on their own drawings and those that have been handed down. The sets of stencils are made for specific sizes of clocks. After choosing the stencil for the size and style of clock, the wood worker draws the design on the wood and begins carving and shaping the frame. When the frame and the case are complete, both are stained and left to dry. Handcrafted cuckoo clocks are definitely pieces of art.
When the frame and case are dried, the clock is assembled by first mounting the movement in the case. In the old days of village manufacture, the craftsmen who carved the wood and assembled the clockworks probably lived in the same village. The clockmaker poured and handcrafted the internal workings of the clock himself and assembled them. Today, manufacturers buy preassembled clock movements, and the process is reduced to fitting it in the case and properly fixing it in place with wood screws or other fasteners.
More tomorrow on the sound making devices.
Is there are connection? You bet! Nowadays certain day cuckoo clocks are manufactured inspired by contemporary decorative styles, as much in Germany as in other countries, especially Italy. These modern clocks are characterized by its functionalist, minimalist and schematic design.
The verge (or crown wheel) escapement is the earliest known type of mechanical escapement, the mechanism in a mechanical clock that controls its rate by advancing the gear train at regular intervals or ‘ticks’. Its origin is unknown. Verge escapements were used from the 14th century until about 1800 in clocks and pocketwatches. The name verge comes from the Latin virga, meaning stick or rod.
Its invention is important in the history of technology because it made possible the development of all-mechanical clocks. This caused a shift from measuring time by continuous processes, such as the flow of liquid in water clocks, to repetitive, oscillatory processes, such as the swing of pendulums, which had the potential to be more accurate. Oscillating timekeepers are at the heart of every clock today.
The first hard evidence of the verge escapement dates from 14th century Europe, where its invention led to the development of the first all-mechanical clocks. Starting in the 1200s, large tower clocks began appearing in town squares and cathedrals. They kept time by using the verge escapement to drive a horizontal bar with weights on the ends called the foliot, a primitive type of balance wheel to oscillate back and forth. The rate of the clock could be adjusted by sliding the weights in or out on the foliot bar. More on that piece, in our “How To” article tomorrow
8 day Carved cuckoo clocks have nature-inspired themes carved out of wood attached to the case. Eight day cuckoo clocks only have to be wound once a week because they have bigger gears inside, making them more convenient. Clocks are wound by pulling the un-weighted end of the chain until the weight moves up near the clock’s case. The outer worked wood case is usually made of beautiful dark wood that is intricately carved with folk and forest scenes.
The Deer-head or Hunter Clock is a squarish shaped box which displays a traditional hunting scene. This style is not my favorite, although it is very popular. In the center at the top of the clock is the head of a buck deer complete with carved antlers. Often there are crossed shotguns and dead game animals arrayed around the dial of the clock. As with the other cuckoo clocks the Hunter Clock has a pendulum along with weights beneath the clock.
You literally can find a cuckoo clock that will fit in any room for any taste and will truly become a focal point and conversation piece. The price depends on the quality and what materials were used in the construction of the clock. You can find 8 day carved cuckoo clocks prices starting under one hundred dollars and going up to thousands of dollars depending on the artwork, the mechanical features involved and whether or not the cuckoo clocks plays music or not.
Most cuckoo clocks today are made in the “traditional style” to hang on a wall in your home or office. In the long history of clock making and time keeping, cuckoo clocks play a large role in the appreciation of art in clocks. The traditional style of the cuckoo clock is a wooden case decorated with carved leaves and animals and an automation of a bird that appears through a small door while the clock is striking. A cuckoo clock is typically pendulum driven, striking the hour and half hour, using bellows and pipes that imitate the cuckoo call. Today’s cuckoo clocks are almost always driven by weights. The weights are made of cast iron in a pine cone shape.
As early as 1650, the call of the cuckoo bird in a clock was being heard in parts of East Germany and a region of the Czech Republic. It took nearly a century for the cuckoo clock to find its way to the Black Forest. The Black Forest cuckoo clock, as we know it, comes from the region in southwest Germany, where a tradition of clock making started late in the 17th century. The cuckoo clock is a favorite souvenir of travelers in Germany, where there are several different firms making the whole clock or parts of it. The people who make cuckoo clocks are dedicated craftsmen whose products are works of art. Black Forest cuckoo clocks and German cuckoo clocks command big prices and are highly sought after in antique stores, flea markets and retail shops. They are valuable because of their elaborate hand carvings and unique artistry.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at “Striking the Hour”
Actually, it’s both my wife’s and my birthday. Isn’t that neat, married and able to celebrate our birthday together? I sure don’t have any excuse for forgetting Mona’s birthday! Normally we go away and celebrate by exploring new territory. Not today, but later this month we will be celebrating in Barcelona Spain. Previously we celebrated in Hawaii, Germany, Austria and most of the 50 United States. We love to travel. Today, being Wednesday, I will continue my “How To:” articles. Today, “How to buy Cuckoo Clocks”, one of my loves (besides by wife).
Cuckoo clocks are an enjoyable accessory to have in your home. Features to look for when buying a cuckoo clock include the style, movement and music. Once you have an idea of the type of cuckoo clock you’re looking for, then finding one for your home will be a cinch.
First – Decide on the style that you’re looking for in a cuckoo clock. If you’re looking for a clock that looks like a house, then you’ll want to purchase a chalet style clock. Traditional clocks include built in nature scenes with flowers, animals or leaves. Novelty clocks include more unique colorful features and contemporary themes. Second - Consider the type of movement that you would like your clock to have. Cuckoo clocks have two movements: one-day and eight-day movement. One day movements will sound on every half hour and on the hour. 8 day cuckoo clocks sound on each hour of the day. Third – Determine whether you want your cuckoo clock to play music. Some coo coo clocks come with music and figures that dance while others do not. Some traditional clocks play Swiss music at either every half hour or by the hour. The music will depend on the type of movement and clock style you choose. Lastly - Browse shops that offer the types of cuckoo clocks that you’re looking for. Cuckoo clocks can be purchased online, at retail stores, auctions, and antique or thrift shops.
Happy shopping, and “thanks” for celebrating with us.
In order for a clock to earn a certificate of authenticity from the Black Forest Clock Association, it must operate mechanically, be handmade in the Black Forest and all of its major parts must be from the Black Forest. My love for cuckoo or coo coo clocks dates back over 50 years, spending time with my grandfather, a collector, hobby builder and fellow lover of clocks. He must have had over a hundred clocks throughout his home, most all accurately keeping time. I remember he purposely had them set at slightly different times so that when the chimes and music played, it took about 15 minutes for them all to complete their announcements and animation.
My son also brought me a simple traditional German cuckoo clock home when he was performing with “Up With People” some years ago (pictured above). Musical chalet cuckoo clocks however are still my favorite. Their charm and beauty always give me a warm feeling inside. Each one is so unique.
What’s your favorite style?