Saturday, February 28, 2009

What's a Fusee Anyway??

Let's take a quick look at some of the terms that have been mentioned in recent posts.  To do that, we'll start at the basics of how mechanical clocks are usually powered.

The clocks featured in recent posts are built before the general use of electricity.  Steam engines would normally be too large and inefficient to power such small devices, plus you would have continually stoke it to keep the clock running over night.  So what powers these clocks?

We've discussed examples of the very earliest clocks that run on water power, but the tried and true method of running an accurate timepiece is to harness the power of gravity.  This is the original GREEN power.  Gravity is constantly renewable and reliable.  As long as we have a planet, we have gravity.  Weight-driven clocks also have the advantage of being very accurate.  The force of gravity is always constant in any particular location, so the clock won't speed up or slow down at any point because of an increase or decrease of power.

Weights get in the way sometimes though.  What do you do if you want to make a smaller clock that fits on a shelf?  There would be no room to fit the weights.  Early American clockmakers solved the problem by making really tall shelf clocks with weights hidden in the sides of the case.

Eventually (in the1400's)  the obvious solution became to use the recoiling power of a metal spring.  The spring didn't require the space that weights did, but the power of a spring does diminish as the spring winds down.  This would cause the clock to slightly slow down - hence the Fusee.

The Fusee is essentially a cone shaped wheel, connected to a powered spring barrel.  As the spring applies pressure to the inside of the barrel, it turns, and pulls on the chain connected to the cone.  As the chain is pulled from the cone to the barrel less force is required because of the increasing radius of the cone. This compensates for the weakening power of the spring towards the end of its power cycle.

As you can tell, cutting a fusee accurately requires an expert machinist and craftsman.  Only the finest, most expert clocks incorporated fusees.

Eventually, finicky and delicate fusee mechanisms became obsolete due to more accurate and more reliable advancements in escapements.  Today, very few mechanical clocks have fusees and they have become largely a fascination and curiosity among horologists.

We have several posts that talk about this interesting element of horology.  Click here for more posts about the Fusee.

Friday, February 27, 2009

"Another Beha" Cuckoo Clock

The conventional reading of a title "Another Beha Cuckoo Clock" would be that the adjective "Another" would modify the phrase "Beha Cuckoo Clock" with the implication that the topic of the post would be discussion of a Beha cuckoo clock created either personally by Johann Baptist Beha or, in later years, in collaboration with his sons Lorenz and Engelbert. In the case of this particular post, however, the topic is a bit more unique and thus the "'Another Beha' Cuckoo Clock" title.

Approximately a year ago I acquired a "Beha" cuckoo clock that became the topic of some debate amongst experienced Black Forest clock collectors as it's wooden plate movement, movement access door knobs/latches and maker's mark did not fully conform to the characteristics typical of a Johann Baptist Beha clock.

In fact, the middle initial of Johann Beha maker referenced on the maker's mark on this clock did not appear to be a "B" at all but rather either a "C" or "G". The maker's mark does however clearly indicate that the maker is a J. Beha from Eisenbach.

The unusual "Beha" maker's mark and the small, but significant, decorative and technical deviations of the clock from other Johann Baptist Beha clocks caused some experienced collector's to question the authenticity of the clock.

Fortunately, Dr. Wilhelm Schneider has recently published a book entitled "Frühe Kuckucksuhren. Entwicklungsgeschichte der Schwarzwälder Kuckucksuhr von 1750 bis 1850" in which he includes a vast amount of new, original research regarding the history of early Black Forest clocks, clockmakers and their families (many of whose lineages have since died out). Specifically, through the research that Dr. Schneider has conducted and documented in this book it has been possible, in consultation with Dr. Schneider, to unequivocally identify the maker of this shelf clock as not Johann Baptist Beha, but rather the relatively unknown distant relative of Johann Baptist Beha, namely Johann Georg Beha (1836- ca. 1885). The maker of this clock was identified by Dr. Schneider by his comparison of the movement, pipe-paper, etc. of this clock with other documented clocks produced by Johann Georg Beha. Moreover, apparently, no other examples of Johann Georg Beha clocks with carved cases are known to have survived as the other surviving examples of this maker are Bahnhäusle with a painted tinplate and a shield cuckoo clocks.

A possible explanation for the rarity of Johann Georg Beha's clocks may lie in the facts that the clockmaker Johann Georg Beha suffered a tragic and unexpected death relatively early in life and it is believed a good many of his clocks were exported to eastern Europe (i.e. Russia). This particular clock is believed to have been produced by Johann Georg Beha ca. 1865 and the walnut case is believed to have been carved by Rupert Wehrle of Neustadt, one of the best Black Forest carver's in his time. The fine carving quality of this piece is exemplified in the detailed carving of the oak leaves in a full three dimensions. The photos (which are archive photos taken immediately after the carvings were oiled) do not relect the rich, uniform natural walnut finish of the clock when viewed in person.

Interestingly, the families of Johann Baptist Beha and Johann Georg Beha lived next door to one another in Eisenbach (an old photo including the two homes is included in Dr. Schneider's book) and the commonalities between the designs of the two clockmakers were probably not a coincidence.

In this find, it reinforced a important lesson learned long ago but since forgotten: Just because an example is different, it doesn't make it wrong. In fact, in some cases, being different may absolutely correct for a previously undiscovered, or rare, variation. Additionally, the "experts" may usually be right, they are not always right and one ultimately has to trust one's own judgement in acquisitions...

Finally, it is my opinion that one should not let minor condition problems damper one's enthusiasm for the acquisition of a rare vintage item too much. This philosophy is based upon the prospect that, if one wishes to wait for a rare 150 year antique clock in perfect condition, one may have to wait for a very long, perhaps indefinite, time. There are professional restorers who can dramatically improve the appearance of clocks with minor damage or losses at, in my opinion, a very reasonable cost.

As an example, the following professional restoration of minor carving losses was performed on this Johan Georg Beha clock by Ms. Susan Wood of Minneapolis, MN. As you can observe, the resultant carving repairs are virtually indistinguishable from the original carvings and significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal of the antique clock.

After repair of chicken's wing and tree branch, before final matching of finish

After repair and finishing of chicken's wing and tree branch


Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Rare Look: An Early Experimental Beha Automaton

In a previous post we spoke about curious innovations made by Johann Baptist Beha, which never made it "main stream"...resulting in unique and unusual clocks left for us today.

This next post I would like to share a clock, and an innovation that did make it main stream.

This piece is a very early, and special shelf clock with automation made by Johann Baptist Beha in 1849.
First off we would like to thank Dr. Wilhelm Schneider of Germany for his assistance in researching this piece. Dr. Schneider ,besides being the authority on the Beha factory… is also a accomplished author and a good friend.

This early Beha was made in late 1849, and sold January 1850 to Mr. Spiengelhalder a dealer from Neukirch for 19 Gulden along with one other identical piece. This is the only know surviving piece of the two. The Spiengelhalder family operated a retail store out of London during that time. (As a side note worth mentioning...Johann Baptist set up his shop in Eisenbach in 1845, this clock was made within the first 4 years of the start of his business.)

The case on this piece was made by Peter Wehrle a case maker in Dittishausen. Peter Wehrle apprenticed in Vienna…building cases for fine Vienna Regulators. This explains why this case is very refined compared with many Black Forest clocks made during the period. It also closely resembles a fine Viennese shelf clock. The case is made from the finest veneers and brass inlay… the proportions also show Peter Wehrle had a well trained eye. Peter Wehrle’s early relationship helped Johann Baptist Beha secure his name and reputation as a quality BF clock maker.
The backboard on this case is hinged at the bottom, and has a locking mechanism at the top of the back board. This was done by Peter Wehrle prior to 1854.

The movement on this clock is an early wood plate, 8 day. double fusee movement…if you look at the stop wheel on the back of the movement (see pic)… it is a very crudely made and primitive… This movement predated Johann Baptist Behas integration of the fusee and cuckoo (One of Behas greatest innovations)… and a movement that would become the staple in his quality clocks in later years.

In the Beha books, Johann Baptist Beha talks about experimenting with the 8 day fusee movement…but first incorporating blinking eyes. This is one of those pieces. .. a Beha, without a cuckoo.

Shortly after the success Beha had on this piece, the cuckoo was added and the fusee cuckoo was born.

Above the dial in a small gilt frame, behind glass is a small 1.75 X 3.25 painting on zinc. In the painting a dog has cornered a rodent. The eye on both animals (no larger than the end of a pin head needle) move back and forth with the pendulum.

Rarely did the Beha factory ever mark their clocks, and to find a Beha factory label is considered unique.

The last detail on this piece that makes the package so sweet… is a clear signature “Johann Beha in Eisenbach” done by his own hand.

Since this clock was made within the first few years of Johann Baptist Beha's clock making career, and the importance this piece played in the Behas early development of the 8 day fusee movement it is a very special clock in our collection.
Also because of the documentation by Johann Baptist in the books regarding this piece being one of the first, and the Signature... it is safe to say that this clock was made not only by the Beha factory, but by the hand of Johann Baptist Beha himself.

We are very excited to be able to share this important piece of Beha history.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Was Peter Columbo a Clockmaker?

Probably not, but he would have probably been pretty good at clock restoration because oftentimes, restoring an antique clock in a historically correct manner not only requires a mandatory high level of technical skills and knowledge but also the intellectual curiosity, deductive reasoning and persistent "detective" work to understand, and faithfully recreate, the original clockmaker's design given the typical situation of incomplete information and more than a few missing parts.

Recently, I had the opportunity to acquire a rare, and very early (ca. 1876), Johann Baptist Beha Number 932 cuckoo and monk clock. This clock is rather unusual for a Beha clock in that it not only has time, strike and cuckoo complications but also an animation complication in which a monk comes out of the lower door three times a day to ring the Angelus (the monk's arm goes up and down while clock's two gongs are struck to simulate the ringing of a bell in the church's steeple). At ca. 35 inches tall, it is also one of the largest Beha clocks.

Production of these clocks were extremely limited, presumably due to the small market size resultant from the very high price of the clocks in terms of an average person's wage at the time.

The example I acquired is in remarkably good condition considering the fragility of the clock's steeples, etc. but the last ca. 140 years did take a bit of a toll: the crest above the cuckoo's door had been lost. In addition, the count wheel, which controls the timing of monk’s ringing the Angelus and the gear that drives this count wheel, was also missing.

Because of the generosity of time and information provided by fellow Black Forest clock collectors Mr. Mark Singleton, Mr. Dean Sarnell and Dr. Wilhelm Schneider (to all of which I am deeply indebted) and the photographs of a Beha 932 clock included in Rick Ortenburger's "Black Forest Clocks" it has been possible to determine the basic style and design of missing crest and Angelus count wheel and drive gear. Thus, restoring the missing crest and enabling the basic functions of the clock now appear rather straightforward. However, restoring the clock to basic function and restoring the clock to include the subtle design details it's makers' intended are not necessarily synonymous.

Upon inspection of the Angelus count wheel one notes the setting of pins that activate the Angelus ringing event. Closer inspection however reveals that, in addition to the two set pins, there are numerous other positions marked with small indentations on the outer diameter of the Angelus count wheel. Faithful reproduction of this count wheel would thus require replication of these features at the correct positions. But why are these non-functional (unpinned) positions present and what is the horological logic of their pattern? More practically, how can one precisely replicate a pattern if one can't recognize the pattern? To me, at least, the answers to both questions are not obvious and require a bit of detective work...

In cooperation with my good friend, Dr. Martin Wolk, we have been trying to analyze and understand the design logic behind the marked horological positions on the Angelus count wheel. While we are not ready to yet declare success I think we have perhaps gained some insight and have developed an initial hypothesis (theory) that must now be tested through critical analysis and peer review. Our basic hypothesis is that, in the cottage Black Forest clock industry of the mid- to late-nineteenth century, there may have been an attempt to gain economies of scale in manufacturing by fabricating clock parts that could be used in multiple applications and clocks. Accordingly, the pattern of these indentations in the Angelus count wheel might represent a series of pre-registered positions that could be drilled, and pinned, to create a wide range of time intervals over which horological-registered events (i.e. a monk ringing the Angelus, a music box playing, etc.) could be activated. Thus, a "standard" count wheel could be customized via the setting of pin positions to fabricate a multiplicity of different clocks.

According to our current hypothesis, if one lets x represent the smallest interval between two consecutive marked positions on the Angelus count wheel, it appears that there are two intervals with 1x spacing, eight intervals with a 2x spacing, six intervals with a 3x spacing and six intervals with a 4x spacing. Thus, there are a total of 60x intervals (2*1x + 8*2X + 6*3x + 6*4x) about the circumference of the Angelus count wheel. Since there are sixty teeth on the Angelus count wheel and the Angelus count wheel rotates once every 24 hours, each x interval must then correspond to 0.40 hours or 24 minutes. Thus the intervals defined by successive markings on the Angelus count wheel would correspond to 0.40 hours (for each of the 1x intervals), 0.80 hours (for each of the 2x intervals), 1.20 hours (for each of the 3x intervals) and 1.60 hours (for each of the 4x intervals). Starting from position 1 and moving counter-clockwise, the interval sequence (in hours) is approximately …0.8, 0.8, 08, 0.4, 0.8,1.6,1.6, 1.6, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 0.8, 0.8, 0.8, 0.4, 0.8, 1.6, 1.6, 1.6, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2…

Given this sequence, pins may then set via combinations and permutations to create all of the following time intervals (in hours): 0.40, 0.80, 1.20, 1.60, 2.00, 2.40, 2.80, 3.20, 3.60, 4.00, 4.40, 4.80, 5.20, 5.60, 6.00, 6.40, 6.80, 7.20, 7.60, 8.00, 8.40, 8.80, 9.20, 9.60, 10.00, 10.40,10.80, 11.20, 11.60, 12.00, 12.40, 12.80, 13.20, 13.60, 14.00, 14.40, 14.80, 15.20, 15.60, 16.00, 16.40, 16.80, 17.20, 17.60, 18.00, 18.80, 19.20, 19.60, 20.00, 20.40, 20.80, 21.20, 21.60, 22.00, 22.40, 22.80, 23.20, 23.60, 24.00. Additional flexibility in these intervals could obviously be gained by modifying the rotation frequency of this count wheel.

Clearly, this sequence of pre-registered positions on the count wheel would have provided the nineteenth century Black Forest clockmaker with a wide range of closely spaced time intervals for customizing animation, music, and other events registered to time.

As I indicated above, this is only our initial hypothesis and elucidation of the true significance and function of the non-functional marked positions on the Beha 932’s count wheel is a work in progress….I'll update the blog as we get smarter :-)

Comments and alternate theories are welcomed!

The Modern Machine

My good friend is an industrial scientist - he just sent me an email with the following quote:

The clock, not the steam engine, is the key-machine of the modern industrial age.
Lewis Mumford (1895-1990)

He wanted a horologist's view on the statement.

I immediately thought of how modern industry is so inextricably geared towards efficiency.  The quote brought to mind Fritz Lang's movie Metropolis... I thought of New York's subway system and automated assembly lines and factories all timed to work much like a clock.

The clock is of course not an 'invention' of the modern industrial age though. To me, the horological development that would have made the clock so important to the modern work force and efficiency planning is the minute hand - which is credited to appear at about 1475.  

But then again, if you consider the importance of travel (which leads to discovery and trade) then you can't overlook the impact of John Harrison's work in developing a clock accurate enough to aid in navigation. His "H5" was completed in 1761- that counts as the modern era. Without the ability to reliably find longitude it doesn't matter if you have a steam engine or not - you would steam around in circles, or arrive horribly off course.


An interesting side note: American clockmaker Eli Terry is credited with using an automated assembly line with interchangeable parts to create cheap clocks in 1802-1816 - soon after Eli Whitney used these techniques of the industrial revolution to make guns for the young American army. Eli Terry used water power and wooden jigs to replace the work of skilled craftsmen.

What are your thoughts?  Let us know.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The finest carvings

Hand carving is a craft enjoyed by many.  You can go to any craft show or Boy Scout Jamboree and find some kind of whittled piece - it's one of the oldest forms of sculpture.

Like any craft, there are certain parts of the world and certain examples which raise the practice of wood carving from a Craft to an Art.  Black Forest carvers have consistently shown some of the world's most excellent wood carvings for over a hundred years.  Black Forest carvings have adorned many household objects - and they work especially well when they are featured on clocks.

You can see the fine and lifelike detail on the antique clocks shown in previous posts...  The delicate vines, leaves, and even the feathers on the birds' backs are incredibly real - almost as if, as in some Black Forest folkloric scenario, the bird itself was turned to wood after being caught by a lover's magic spell.

This is an art not completely lost by the passing of time.  The tradition is still carried on by guardians of the art, deep in the cold and dark valleys of the Black Forest in Germany.  

This fine clock is one example of a modern extension of Justin's antique clock, found in the previous post.  It features a life sized, baby cuckoo - this one is stuck in a little cage, and has an animated beak and wings.  An un-traditional shape, this clock is able to incorporate a wild and impressive amount of carved vegetation... trees, vines, leaves... this piece is a feast for the eyes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Johann Baptist Beha and a Unique Cuckoo Clock

John in a previous post gave us a wonderful introduction to the Beha factory. He spoke of the quality of the clocks Beha made...despite the pressure to compete in a price driven market. Johann Baptist was also a pioneer in Black Forest Horology, and was responsible for many of the modern improvements used in cuckoo clocks for years to come. Some of these improvements never took flight or became mainstream... and has left us with clocks that are unique or different.

This philosophy for improvement was also passed on to his Sons,who would later run the factory. Because of this philosoph, we can find Beha clocks with unique characteristics from the Early years to the turn of the century.
I would like to share a special piece out of my collection, that echoes many of these things.
This piece is a very special Beha cuckoo, and one of only a small handful known like it worldwide.
The quality and detail of the carving on this piece is nothing but the best, typical of Beha factory.
The vines are very delicately done. They wrap over and under each other with amazing detail...the two small carved birds that are perched on the sides of the clock look alive... but that is not what makes this clock so special, at least not among other quality Behas.

This Beha has a life-size cuckoo perched on the top of the clock... He is 12" from beak to tail, and fully automated! You can see on this piece there is no cuckoo door. The movement in this clock is also unique. It is a three train movement. Time, Strike, and Cuckoo. While other cuckoo clocks blend the cuckoo call and the strike (cuckoo-bong, cuckoo-bong) the separation of trains allows this clock to strike the hour... pause then call the hour with the cuckoo. This piece will also strike the half and full hour, but the cuckoo only calls on the full hour. The separation of the cuckoo and strike into two trains, allowed Beha to create a unique call and striking sequence on this clock.

If you look at the side view of the clock you can see that there is a large grapefruit size bell located on the top of the clock. Using a Large sized bell instead of a gong this clock creates a very loud distinct strike that is heard throughout the house.
Last but not least the pipes used in this cuckoo clock are not square, but are round. Turned on a lathe these cuckoo pipes produce a very unique sound. The call of the cuckoo generated from these pipes sound real. This Beha has been documented in several publications over the years. Its most notable publication is the 2008 Edition of Schwarzwalduhren, by Berthold Schaaf. This is the most authoritative text on Black Forest Clocks. The book is available through any German book seller or
Johann Baptist was not only a quality maker, but a pioneer in Black Forest Horology and unique innovations can be seen in this very special Beha timepiece.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Curious Modern Timepieces

Before the cuckoo came into vogue many other animated figures were used on Black Forest clocks. Bell ringing monks, laughing faces, and the dumpling eater were charming examples.

Justin showed us a beautiful example of a very early shield clock with animated figure.  Here is a modern example, made today with the same tradition of craftsmanship.

This clock is an authentic replica of a Black Forest clock of the early Nineteenth Century. The Hand-painted shield clock features a face whose eyes move with the movement of the pendulum. "The Turk" also laughs, or gasps counting each hour on the hour and once on the half-hour.

This piece is handpainted by the award-winning shield painter Conny Haas.  The clock is built by Ingolf Haas who represents the fourth generation of Black Forest clockmakers.

A Curious Branch of Art from the 19C. To Today

“The most curious branch of art is, without exception, the manufacturers of automation clocks and the ingenuity of the Germans has produced some wonderful mechanical clocks.” As quoted in “The Watchmaker and Jewler” June 1875 issue.

The clocks that have been produced in the Black Forest Region of Germany, represent some of the most interesting timepieces every created by man…and are truly a work of art. Although the above quote was published almost 135 years ago… it is no less true today.

I would like to take a moment to take a step back in time… And see what this unknown writer back in the 19th C. would have seen in 1875...that would have prompted this comment.

Below is a clock that would have been nearly 50 years old at the time of that publication…

It is a Black Forest shield automa…a type of clock the Germans call “Figurenuhren”.

These early Black Forest pieces highly sought after today. This clock is called a “Schnappuhr”, and was made by Lorenz Bob of Furtwangen C. 1820-30.

This beautiful example has wood arbors, and is driven by ropes instead of the later used chains.

As the pendulum swings back and forth the eyes of the figure move side to side with every swing. The clock strikes the half and full hours , on a bell located on the top of the clock. The mouth of the figure opens and snaps closed with every blow to the bell.

The Germans constantly used these clocks to poke fun at other cultures… I have seen figures ranging from Turks, Harlekins, Indians, to the Russian figure seen here all used.

These pieces show that despite the cold long winters, without electricity, running water and modern tools (It was the early 1800’s!!!)…these creative people were able to make beautiful pieces of art, using only the resources available to them... and make a profit doing so.

These pieces continue to be admired today by both young and old.


Hello from Justin and his Black Forest clocks


First off I would thank Dolf and North Coast Imports for the invitation to contribute to this Blog.

I am excited to share my knowledge of Black Forest Clocks, as well as learn from others.

Growing up in a family interested in Antiques and Horology, I became a member of the NAWCC ( at the age of 2. As far back as I remember as a young boy… I attended NAWCC Regional Meetings and Chapter Meetings in sunny Southern California.

I was almost immediately drawn to clock collecting myself at a very early age. Saving my money to be able to add clocks to my little collection, and reading everything I could on the subject.

Although there are many different and wonderful types of clocks available to a collector, I was almost immediately was drawn to Black Forest Clocks made in Germany.

I think this is because they always seemed to do something special!
Whether it was the cuckoo bird coming out and calling the hour, or the painting clock with the eyes moving back and forth as the time ticked away… there was something about the Clocks made in the Black Forest.
As the years have passed my understanding on the subject has improved… the budget for acquiring pieces has grown… but my interest is the same… anything Black Forest that is Pre 1900 …Automated, Musical, Miniature, Heavily Carved or Unique. If you are interested in Unique Black Forest Clocks... please check out my online museum at

While many of these clocks I will sharing are antiques … I am very impressed with clocks currently available by quality makers and craftsman in the Black Forest of Germany. These clocks represent a great value, that will be sure to grace the collections of tomorrow.



Friday, February 06, 2009

Odds and Ends, links to learn more...

Johann Baptist Beha's Clocks

Perhaps the most celebrated of the Black Forest cuckoo clock makers in the mid- to late-nineteenth century was Johann Baptist Beha of Eisenbach, Germany. The life and many horological accomplishments of Beha have been diligently researched and very professionally documented (see, for example, the excellent articles authored by Dr. Wilhelm Schneider and Monika Schneider in the NAWCC Bulletin, April 1988, pages 116-132 and Dr. Wilhelm Schneider in Antiquarian Horology, Autumn 1988, pages 455-462). Thus, the objective of this post is not to recount factual information that is readily available elsewhere. Rather, the purpose of this post is to try to convey what makes these clocks special to me 150 years after they were made in a small factory located within a town in the Black Forest (which was so tiny that the Beha label sometimes affixed to the clock would not only include city of manufacture (Eisenbach) but the larger neighboring city of Neustadt as a reference locality!).

In my experience, the vast majority of Beha clocks do not have a Beha manufacturing label affixed to the clock, either because it was never thought necessary to attach a label in the first place or it has long since fallen off. Fortunately, I have found that the presence of a label is oftentimes not necessary to identify an antique clock as a "Beha". Indeed, identification based upon the technical features of the movement (such as the design of the stop gear assembly, fusee movement, etc.) and the extraordinary high quality of the casework is often possible by an experienced collector. The easily recognizable high quality in the carvings in Beha clocks formed out of woods such as walnut and pear is what first enticed me to begin collecting these clocks and still summons me to spend numerous hours on the Internet seeking a new example to add to our collection. The quality of manufacture in Beha's clocks would extend to every aspect of the clock whether it be the quality of the oil paintings placed on the fronts of some clocks or the detailed carving and painting of the cuckoo occupant. The quality incorporated into Beha's clocks, in my opinion, was not an accident but a conscious decision to differentiate his clocks from the lower priced, mass-produced Black Forest cuckoo clocks that were produced by competitors. For me, Beha's clocks are the living proof of the veracity of the old adage that "the quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten".

Futhermore, Beha's clocks are also a most interesting category of clock to collect based upon the broad diversity of the clocks manufactured. This diversity is well documented in Beha's original product catalogs which have survived .

To be sure, Beha did almost exclusively manufacture cuckoo clocks, but the wide scope of the available designs and incorporation of horological complications into the movements makes for a cuckoo collector's dream. In the next few posts I hope to share some of the rich diversity of Beha's cuckoo clocks with you.

Until then,


Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Brief Introduction...

Hello everyone,

Dolf and I have been sharing our mutual passion for Black Forest clocks over the last year and when Dolf recently invited me to join North Coast Import's blog I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet new collectors and share information and enthusiasm for these wonderful clocks.

My wife and I have for many years shared an interest in clocks and antique folk wood carvings. These interests have naturally evolved into an interest in the intersection of these hobbies-carved antique clocks. And of course once we were hooked on carved wooden clocks the temptation to start collecting finely carved Black Forest clocks was much too tempting to resist!

Because the scope and variety of Black Forest clocks available is very broad and diversified, we quickly found ourselves trying to restrict our active collecting of these clocks to a manageable scope. Based upon our natural gravitation toward fine wood carvings and some initial research and discussion with experienced collectors of Black Forest clocks, we found ourselves seeking out Black Forest clocks that were made in the mid-late 19th century by Johann Baptist Beha and his family of Eisenbach, Germany. As our collecting interests became more refined we found that the Beha examples that are most appealing to us are the early examples that are made with wooden clock plates and exhibit the most detailed carvings-truly magnificant folk art! I have posted a photo of one of our Johann Baptist Beha clocks that I hope to discuss in more detail in a future post.



We at North Coast Imports and are very pleased to welcome a new member to our blogging community.  John is an expert on antique Black Forest clocks and has a wealth of information to share.

He also has a beautiful collection of rare and unusual timepieces.

Remember, these antiques are very rare and not for sale... but North Coast Imports is pleased to offer a line of new clocks built in this grand tradition of craftsmanship.  Just take a look at this modern Black Forest clock that preserves the Black Forest tradition of incredible carving:

  Ask your favorite clock dealer, or send us an email, to find out  about North Coast Imports and our wonderful timepieces.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Rat Eater part 2

I thought I would do a quick follow-up post on the delicious Rat Eater owned by our friend and collector J. Miller.  This information and material is copied from the previously-mentioned discussion at the NAWCC forums...

Apparantly it was quite common, during time of war, for soldiers and citizens to be driven to eating rats - especially during sieges.  There are some accounts (during the Franco-Prussian war) of rat-sellers and one American journalist even writes about the best rat recepits and the comparisons between dog, cat, and rat meat.

Here is a painting by  of a "Rat Seller"(c.1870)

Here is an account from 1871 by an American journalist, shut in in Paris during the Franco-Prussian war

...and another account of eating rats in Metz c. 1814