Thursday, February 12, 2009

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.


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