Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Beha Shelf Cuckoo Clock with Inlays and Calendar

In the late 19th century, an argument can be made that the most prominent clock makers were located in the U.K. (for example, J. J. Elliott of London). It can also be stated with relative certainty that these prominent U.K. clock makers manufactured the most expensive clocks produced during this period placing the clocks beyond the financial reach of all but the most affluent.

This focus of the U.K. clock makers on the top-tier of the domestic clock market created an opportunity for the Black Forest clock markers to manufacture clocks that could be exported to, and marketed in, the U.K. to address the market for quality, but yet more affordable clocks. Naturally, this would mean that the German clock makers would have to adapt their clocks to suit the English market in terms of both function and style. This would necessitate the German makers to produce clocks powered with eight day fusee movements as opposed to the weight powered or 30-hour or 50-hour movements typically produced for their domestic markets. Similarly, this would prompt the German clock makers to produce clocks reminiscent of English design and formality.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the most appealing aspects of collecting Black Forest clocks manufactured by the Beha families is the broad diversity of the clocks manufactured. 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. An example of the diversity of the clocks produced by the Beha clock makers is provided by the clocks that they manufactured for export to meet the rising U.K.'s middle class's demand for quality clocks that competed with domestic manufacturers at a more affordable price. An example of the top tier of the clocks Beha's designed for this market is provided below:

This Beha shelf clock was clearly intended for the U.K.'s market with a case of ebonized wood tastefully decorated with intricate inlays of brass and natural minerals. In addition to the cuckoo and gong-strike complications, this clock was also manufactured by Beha with a simple 31-day calendar complication. Calendar complications are very seldom found in Beha's clocks and suggest that this clock was intended for a particularly demanding (and affluent) customer. The cuckoo call and gong-strike may be silenced by rotating levers accessible through the right side door.

The wood plate movement and early Johann Baptist Beha labels indicate that the clock is an early example of Beha's production.

This clock was in the Kämper's personal collection for many years until it was acquired by this blogger last year. A minor restoration and maintenance have been recently been completed on the clock. The clock is running daily on time (and date!) like the fine clock it was always intended to be.


Thursday, June 25, 2009



(CNN) -- In one of the biggest upsets in international football in recent times the USA beat European champions Spain 2-0 in the first semifinal of the 2009 Confederations Cup in Bloemfontein, South Africa."

Celebrate with our Soccer Clock! (Only a few left available.)

The Bunny Project

This is even cuter, if not a little dangerous.

"Performance commissioned by Kalmar Museum of Art, Sweden. During the inauguration of the new art museum in Kalmar a suspicious individual sneaked around the premises mounting sculptures made of carrots, alarm clocks, red and blue cables, metal wire and tape. On direct orders from the Swedish secret police the performance was stopped since the Culture Minister refused to give her inaugural speech if it were to continue. The speech , as it later turned out, was about how art must be allowed to be free and provocative."

via [Bunny Project]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This is cute

Homemade Celestial Clock

New subscribers to the North Coast Imports blog may notice that we post a lot on our blog about pieces that we find interesting... and not available commercially. Here's a great project by Sean Gallagher that we found on the web and had to tell you about.

We've had a few clocks available in the past with astronomical features. For example, we've had a few hand-made Orrery's made in England. Stay in touch, and we will most likely have more in the future.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inverted Pendulum

We know what a pendulum is. It's a great device for producing regular periods, which is especially useful in mechanical clocks, when you want to break down fast power into smaller intervals (like seconds).

Galileo Galilei discovered it around 1602 and Christiaan Huygens was the first to use it in a clock for accurate escapement in 1656.

But what if you turned it upside down? It's easy to do by hand. Take a long rod and balance it on the palm of your hand. In order to keep it up, it requires finite adjustments by your hand. A little to the left... right... forward... Don't let it fall!

Your brain accepts input from your eyes and feel of the weight on your hand to see which way the rod begins to fall, and tells your arm and hand to adjust as necessary to keep the bottom of the rod under the top... keeping it balanced. It's not that difficult to do for someone as intelligent as ourselves.

Could that control be synthesized? Imagine the possibility...

...or, just look it up on YouTube...

From Wikipedia, "An inverted pendulum is a pendulum which has its mass above its pivot point. It is often implemented with the pivot point mounted on a cart that can move horizontally and may be called a cart and pole. Whereas a normal pendulum is stable when hanging downwards, an inverted pendulum is inherently unstable, and must be actively balanced in order to remain upright, either by applying a torque at the pivot point or by moving the pivot point horizontally as part of a feedback system."

Check out this pendulum clock: