The famous history of the cuckoo clock – or Black Forest clock


The history and fair market value of the cuckoo clock

It was around 1640, in Germany, that the first Black Forest clock was created. In those days, the clocks were very simple: the mechanisms were made of wood and they had only one hand, providing a rather random reliability. Made by mountain people who had no land and worked for other farmers in the summer; the design and sale of clocks made it possible to survive the long winter months.
The Black Forest clocks quickly evolved: the minute hand appeared, the dials changed and were made of painted wood or glass. These clocks were quickly renowned throughout the world for their solidity and affordable price.
The first cuckoo clock was built by Franz Anton Ketterer, near Triberg in the Black Forest. Ketterer was the first to imitate the cuckoo’s natural sound in a clock by means of 2 bellows, each of which produced a different sound. At first, he wanted to imitate the rooster’s crow, but unable to do so, he took inspiration from church organs.
Demonstrating inventive genius, skill and dexterity, the inhabitants spend their winter months designing cuckoo clocks richly decorated with the most diverse wooden sculptures: foliage with fruits, forest animals, hunting scenes, stables with cuckoo clocks in the attic and also chalets of all sizes accompanied by new animations: dancers, animals, mill wheel, lumberjack, lady ringing the bell… All this variety has contributed to the success of this clock which has become the Black Forest’s symbol. It is much more than a memory because it has greatly contributed to the development of the region.

Today some of these clocks are of great value. The real Black Forest cuckoo clocks representing the culture of the region are recognizable by their hand-carved and hand-crafted cases. (Rather than those from Switzerland). Also, the manufacturer’s name must be visible in one part of the case or affixed to one or more parts of the inner mechanism. Some of these clocks even play melodies. The more varied their repertoire, the more valuable they are. How do you know if your cuckoo clock is musical? Just count the suspended weights at the bottom of the pendulum. Musical cuckoo clocks have 3 weights, usually in the shape of pinecones. Then check the mechanism. 8-day models are generally more valuable than 1-day models that require a daily intervention. Collectors are also looking for functional mechanisms. Then, you will observe two types of movements for this type of pendulum: those with mechanical movement have more value than those with quartz movement.

The value of a cuckoo clock lies largely in its quality, which can be determined according to the materials used. Often made of lime wood, they have cracks or missing parts.

You want to appraise your clock? Evolia Transition’s experts can help you! Contact us at 514-647-5001!


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