Antique German Cuckoo Clocks
Cuckoo clocks today are probably the most well known and popular form of ornamental clock. Who in the modern world is not familiar with it melodic ‘Cuckoo. Cuckoo’ call.
Why such a bird was chosen to represent what was to become a legend in clock making was never quite explained, you could think of more sweet bird song to herald in each hour and half hour.
It may have had something to do with the location of Baden and Wurttemberg deep in the black Forest of Germany where the clocks originated. Here the winters are long, dark and harsh and it could have been that the bird call most associated with the coming of Spring was the natural choice to build into a clock. Production of clocks first began here in the around 1640 when a traveller introduced a simple Bohemian clock controlled by weights not springs. This is still the most significant feature of any Cuckoo Clock after its distinctive calling sound.
As forestry and agriculture work during the winter season was limited particularly by the heavy snowfall associated with the region a cottage industry began to develop to copy and manufacture the clocks. It was during this time that the skills were developed which would lay the foundation for Cuckoo Clock making that would follow.
It was in 1740 that Franz Anton Ketterer was generally accredited for the invention of the Cuckoo Clock, he was a well known Black Forest clockmaker. The cuckoo sound was produced using the same principles as the church organ, smaller of course! At this time the cuckoo sound was simply used in the existing clocks of the day which already were being exported all over the continent and as far away as Russia. It was later that the familiar wooden casing began to appear which began to be decorated with elaborate wooden carvings.
The cuckoo clock was no slouch when it came to time keeping either, the skills of the Black Forest clockmakers ensured a reputation for accuracy and reliability.
Antique Cuckoo Clocks are always sought after particularly those dating from the 1850’s to the 1880’s. Hand made clocks with a traceable history are the most valuable, particularly in America where so many Americans can trace there history back to Germany and Switzerland. Factory made clocks are also in demand, value will always depend on the maker and rarity of the clock. However there are also many fine examples of Cuckoo clocks made in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that are very collectable antiques and have become part of the rich history of the Antique Cuckoo Clocks market.
Provided that the clock has a traceable history it will always hold it’s value, the law of supply and demand means these clocks are a continuing rarity. If you are lucky enough to own such a clock look after it, keep it in good order and you will have not only a unique time piece but an increasing value added asset.
In this short introduction it is impossible to do justice to such a wide and varied subject, please check out other resources available on this website to learn all you need to know about Antique Cuckoo Clock collecting.
Take a look at the video below it has a whole load of Antique, Vintage and new Cuckoo Clocks to give a flavour of cuckoo clock collecting….
A great example of an antique cuckoo clock… see the video…
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I read an article about the history of cuckoo clocks here, and it said that Bavarians started making them because they were snowed in every winter. The whole town would come together, making metal cogs in one shop and wooden boxes in another