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.


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