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Cuckoo Clocks

By Tim Wallace Subscribe to RSS | January 2nd 2012 | Views:

Clocks are a form of timepiece. The mechanical clock was first created in the 13th Century.

Since then there have been advances in the accuracy and size of the clock. Chimes have been introduced to indicate the top of the hour. The cuckoo clock is one form of chiming clock.

There have been mechanical timepieces with an automaton bird since the 2nd Century BC. This is attributed to the Greek mathematician, Ctesibius of Alexandria; he might be considered to have created the ancestor of the modern cuckoo clock.

Around the turn of the eighth and ninth centuries the caliph of Baghdad presented Charlemagne with a clock that had a mechanical bird to announce the hours.

In 1629 an Augsburg Nobleman Philipp Hainhofer created the first known description of the modern cuckoo clock.

It is unclear who created the first of this type of clock in the Black Forest. By the middle of the eighteenth century several small clockmakers were producing cuckoo clocks with wooden gears. The first Black Forest cuckoo clocks were created in the seventeen forties and had wooden doors. There are at least two fables about the creation of the cuckoo clock, neither of which is likely to be true.

However, although the idea of placing an automaton bird in a clock did not originate in the Black Forest, it must be stressed that the cuckoo clock as we know it today comes from this region in south West Germany which has a clock making tradition dating to the seventeenth century. These Black Forest clockmakers who created the industry have developed it, come up with new designs and technical improvements which have made this type of clock a valued work of art throughout the world.

Many of the eighteenth and nineteenth century clocks had hand painted pictures above or surrounding the clock face and had no cabinet surrounding the clock mechanism. Not many of this style survive, but those that do are generally valuable. The paintings had various themes typical of the Black Forest area.

From about 1860 for the next sixty years cuckoo clocks were manufactured to designs popular at the time. These also were rarer than the popular ones looking like gatekeeper houses and these could be mantle, wall or bracket clocks. The popular house-shaped Bahnhäusleuhr (Railroad house clock) virtually forced the discontinuation of other designs within a few years.

The chalet style of clock, popular to this day, was created in Switzerland in the late nineteenth century. Currently there are three different styles of chalet; the Black Forest, the Bavarian and the Swiss chalet. Many of these as well as containing the tradition cuckoo mechanism also contain a Swiss Musical Box which today can have up to twelve melodies, with a different one for each hour. As well as the cuckoo many of these clocks depict beer drinkers, woodcutters, rotating water wheels and dancing figurines.

More recently Quartz Cuckoo clocks have become available which run on batteries, obviating the need to wind them and which remain silent in a darkened room.

Tim Wallace - About Author:
Tim Wallace is A UK National who has lived in the United Sttes for the last years.
He is married to a US Citizen, Jayne, who he met on-line.
He has no children, but Jayne and he have 6 Black Greyhounds which have been adopted on their retirement from or rejection by the Greyhound Racing Industry.
He now lives in the Pocono Mountains in North East Pennsylvania.

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