German Cuckoo Clocks – A Walk Through History

Whenever one looks at a cuckoo clock one would usually reach the conclusion that it was made in Germany. And if one guessed that he would be rather right. The industry is mainly based in Germany as well as parts of Switzerland. A lot so that the art of clock making can be dated back to 1650 when a nobleman called Philipp Hainhofer penned down the very first known cuckoo clock style. A few decades later on, they emerged all over the Black Forest area of Germany. And therefore starts the historical journey of German cuckoo clocks.Throughout Germany

there are 2 contrasting histories that associate with the first cuckoo clock being made. The very first story, written by Father Franz Steyrer, explains that 2 clock merchants from the Black Forest area met a Bohemian clock peddler who sold to them a cuckoo clock. These two brothers, in turn, took the clock apart and mimicked it, thus initiating business. The other story written by Markus Fidelis Jäck says that a clock master called Franz Anton Ketterer made a clock drawing motivation from the way the bellows of the church organ produced sound.Although the second history is frequently contested by many since the first

cuckoo clock has actually been dated to 1730 and the birth year of Franz Ketterer was 1734, it doesn’t stop people from considering Ketterer as the father and developer of these clocks. The very first were of the’Schilduhr ‘or the Shield-clocks style. These clocks had actually a square painted wood face behind which was the clockwork. On the wooden face was a little semicircular opening from which the cuckoo made its entry.In 1850, the director of the Clockmakers School, Robert Gerwig, began a country wide competitors for designers to submit their new

and innovative styles. Friedrich Eisenlohr, a designer sent a style called”Wallclock with shield decorated by ivy vines “, which was the clear winner then and has given that been adapted to design cuckoo clocks ever because then. Inspired by nature and other such things Eisenlohr created designs rather than modifying them. This appeared to please the noblemen and the clergy who seemed to prefer such designs and considered them as an indication of splendour and magnificence. Within a matter of years though, in 1860 to be precise, the Bahnhäusle clock came into being which brought in the” Jagdstück”style

, which used 3-D carvings and wooden animal designs installed on the top. Ironically, these didn’t have the cuckoo system and appeared watches.Later on, the Swiss moved into this industry and contributed to the growth with their Chalet style which were a lot more in-depth than the Bahnhäusle design and contained much

more intricate wooden carvings like woodcutters, forests, animals and beer drinkers. Throughout history, cuckoo clocks have been modified and re-modified by designers but the original design of the German cuckoo clock has resided on and is still the most used style.

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