Are You Cuckoo For Cuckoo Clocks?

by : teahupoo

Cuckoo clocks are popular with many people and are one of the most collected of all clocks. I know my grandmother had a house full of them.

Cuckoo clocks are usually pendulum clocks that strike on the hour using small bellows and whistles imitating the Cuckoo bird and also striking a gong.

Cuckoo clocks were invented in the Black Forest of Germany in the town of Sch?nwald by Franz Ketterer in 1738. When he first started making the clocks he implemented a system of small bellows and whistles imitaint the Cuckoo and just placed them in a regular Dutch clock. The shapes that we see now of the birdhouse or chalet came as later refinements. The design of a cuckoo clock is now conventional. Most are made in the shape of a rustic birdhouse or chalet. They hang on the wall, and are housed in wooden cases, frequently decorated with carved leaves; sometimes deer and other animals are added. Most now have an automaton of the bird that appears through a small trap door when the clock is striking, and vanishes behind the door after the clock is done.

The bird is often made to move while the clock strikes, usually by means of an arm that lifts the back of the carving. Some Cuckoo clocks have musical movements, and play a tune on a music box before striking the hours or half-hours. Musical cuckoo clocks frequently have other automated creatures that move when the music box plays. The clocks are almost always weight driven; a very few cuckoo clocks are spring driven.

The production center of Cuckoo clocks continues to be in the Black Forest region of Germany, in the area of Triberg and Neustadt. The Cuckoo clock is often wrongly associated with Switzerland, as in the movie The Third Man. In the US, this error is probably due to a story by Mark Twain in which the hero depicts the Swiss town of Lucerne as the home of cuckoo clocks.

Recently, fake quartz battery powered cuckoo clocks have been marketed widely which do not have genuine cuckoo bellows, and typically generate their striking sounds electronically which sound electronic as well. The weights are traditionally cast in the shape of pine cones. The pendulum bob is usually another carved leaf. The dial is small, and typically marked with Roman numerals.

Cuckoo clocks can be a great conversation piece and quality clocks are sought out as collector's items.