Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Speaking of Clock Peddlers...

Justin just contributed a great post on his new antique clock peddler figurine. I particularly like the porcelain dial on his piece, and the fact that the man is carrying extra pendulums.

The clock peddler is a character that has all but disappeared from our lexicon of memories. Clock peddlers in the Black Forest used to carry their wares on a large backpack.

After toiling the winter months away in a crowded workshop over his wares, a clock peddler greeted warmer months by wandering over the hills and through storybook forests hundreds of years ago, matching painted dials and interesting animated scenes to the customers' choice of mechanisms.

This is a particularly unique example. The figurine above is a new hand-made piece that's still available. Housed inside the hand-carved body is a tiny mechanical mechanism with bellows and a multi-pitch whistle that plays a tune on demand. The mechanism is made by hand in Germany and is completely mechanical without any use of speakers or electronics. These are mechanical-musical instruments.

Speaking of Tower Clocks...

There are still a few master clockmakers in the USA. This fine piece with gravity escapement was made for the collector at Orchestrion Hall (mentioned in my last post) by the Balzer Family Clockworks in Freeport, Maine.

Take a look at their website... there is a dizzying display of one-of-a-kind restoration and craftsmanship.

Rare Early Black Forest peddler Timepiece C. 1850

We just recently added this early Black Forest clock to our collection. This is a Period piece made C. 1850. The peddler has become a symbol for the Black Forest and these clock have been made from 1850 up until present day (with major differences).

Our peddler is made from tin on a fantastic burl wood base and stands 15" tall.

The paint on the figure is original and untouched, with very minor loss.

In his hands he holds a miniature functioning timepiece that is 3" tall. The clock works is a thick brass plate miniature clock work.

This clock has its original "mock" weights... pendulums in hand and "mock" time piece on his back. The dial of the clock on his back lifts up to revel a compartment to hold the key... he even has its original miniature key.

This is the second period peddler timepiece we have owned, we traded our last one off as it had too much repaint for our liking, and he was missing his clock on his back.

This example was purchased by the previous owner while being stationed in Germany during WWII. It has been in a box in storage for over 50 years... and was wrapped in old German newspaper from the time.

We are excited to get a very clean original example of this hard to find BF clock for our collection.

Orchestrion Hall, Baltimore

A few days ago, my Twitter followers may be been slightly mystified by my Tweets about finding hidden treasures in Baltimore.

I had the inestimable pleasure of seeing a private collection of clocks, mechanical musical instruments, old fans, lamps, and more... all very rare and very interesting.

The tower clock collection was particularly impressive. The house was fitted with several tower clock dials on the outside. I've gone down that street many years and never looked up to notice them. There is even a dragon outside that strikes a bell with his tail. On the inside, there were some large tower clock movements (like the one pictured above) with slots cut in the floor below them so that the pendulum could swing in the room below.

I did a reblog post a few weeks ago from a Steampunk site about old tower clock towers being converted into apartments - but those places didn't have clocks in them.

There were several tower clocks, most with 3-legged gravity escapements. The whole house seemed to tick away, as if the collector were living inside a giant engine room.

...That's just the tower clocks, in addition there are Winterhalter u. Hoffmeier tubular chimes, regulator master clocks, and Egyptian Revival clocks aplenty...

The place isn't called Orchestrion Hall for nothing. The collector is a worldwide authority on mechanical organ restoration, particularly the very rare and very excellent Welte orchestrions.

He has more mechanical musical instruments too, including a very loud band organ.

His shop is in the basement below, and he uses all turn-of-the-century, belt-driven machines. When I jokingly asked where the steam engine was he pointed to an original early electric motor, and around the corner (in the basement) there was a HUGE single-cylinder Diesel engine.

The collection also includes fans...

This one has a light bulb that's used only for impedance, to slow down the fan.

I wish I had more pictures. This place was a treasure trove of fascinating stuff!

Thanks to Arcadian Clock for some of the pictures above.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Hour///Gras Living Wall Clock

Here's something I found. I don't quite understand how to read this clock, but it has something to do with the speed that grass grows. If you grow Wheat Grass you can even eat the clippings! Read more at the DesignCrave Blog.

Based on the notion of the inherent benefits of growing grass, the Hour///Gras Living Wall Clock designed by J Yu puts a spin on the typical potted plant using a glass-and-stainless-steel-bodied clock to house your grass or other greenery. The hour and minute hand double as blades that cut the grass to a preset length. You can water through an opening on top. If you decide to grow wheat grass, you can eat the shavings that fall into a bin on the bottom of the clock. If not, you’ll have to clean up after your grass clock while cursing whatever relative purchased it for you. On the plus side, you can finally combine the two thrilling pasttimes of watching grass grow and fixating on the slowly-moving minute hand of your clock.

Click Here for more interesting /design clocks.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Excellent video of a carriage clock escapement

Here's a great video of the moving platform escapement on a carriage clock - the same one used in our Sternreiter carriage clocks!

An Interesting Castle Cuckoo Clock

Here's something one of our bloggers found on the interwebs...

"Black Forest automaton, cuckoo, trumpet player, cylinder music player, circa 1890. Each quarter the cuckoo sings the quarters, every hour the trumpet player tells the time and a melody is played. HxWxD 83x64x37.50 cm / circa 33x25x15 inches."

Be sure to check out our castle-style cuckoos:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Unique Wehrle Musical Clock RESTORED!

We just finished the restoration of a unique musical clock By Emilian Wehrle. We do not use the word Unique lightly. This is truly a Unique clock. For more rare Black Forest Clocks, including many by Emilian Wehrle check out our collection at

Friday, September 18, 2009


This is an antique cuckoo bird with moving wings... See our Gothic cuckoo and Long Bahnhäusle for new collectible clocks with this feature.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just Done! Another Wehrle Trumpeter

We finally got the time to bring this Wehrle back to life. After a complete musical restoration it plays as it should.

This is the sixth musical Wehrle clock in our collection, and the second that plays the "William Tell" but with this case we have no complaints.

We have one last Wehrle musical clock that needs restoration, we hope to have it done in the next week and will post the finished results.

Here is a short 1 minute video of the clock playing.

related posts:
Wall Trumpeter
Shelf Flute Clock
"Penny in the Slot."
Rooster Clock

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NEW cuckoo clocks!!

We have been busy searching the world for the most interesting and fantastic new cuckoo clocks. We are pleased to announce these new models this fall. Ask your favorite clock store or curiosities shop for more information...

A new creation from Rombach und Haas, the BAUHAUS distills the classic Bahnhäusle lines down to its essential qualities. This is an inexpensive piece that boasts simplicity and elegance.

We've had a clock like this in our collection before, but this one far surpasses it in intricate detail. There are very few of these made, each painstakingly crafted by a master clockmaker in the Black Forest in Germany. This clock includes extra details like moving wings on the cuckoo bird, and a specialized "slow cuckoo" sound created by the mechanism.

This clock was in our collection before, but we decided to bring it back due to popular demand. It's very charming, with animated birds, and a steep-roof chalet.

Another impressive long-case cuckoo clock from our new clockmaker in the Black Forest. This "Gothic" cuckoo combines impressive details with master craftsmanship.

Monday, September 14, 2009

More of the Boy With the Cuckoo Clock Heart

We made an earlier post on this fascinating story of the Boy With the Cuckoo Clock Heart.

Here is a blog post with more info:
Edinburgh, 1874. On the coldest night the world has ever seen, Little Jack is born with a frozen heart and immediately undergoes a life-saving operation. But Dr Madeleine is no conventional medic and surgically implants a cuckoo-clock into his chest. Little Jack grows up different to other children: every day begins with a daily wind-up. At school he is bullied for his 'ticking', but Dr Madeleine reminds him he must resist strong emotion: anger is far too dangerous for his cuckoo-clock heart. So when the beautiful young street-singer, Miss Acacia, appears - pursued by Joe, the school bully - Jack is in danger of more than just falling in love...he is putting his life on the line.

[via Popin's Lair]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Visual Voltage

Here's a new idea. It displays the amount of energy used in your home, all in the guise of a Modern Design clock!

The more energy being consumed, the larger the diameter of the pattern. You're able to see how much was used at 1 PM, 1:15 PM, 2 PM and so on by glancing at it.

This clock has already made its way around the internet. You can read more about it on the following blogs:

Be sure to check out OUR Modern Design cuckoo clocks at

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mechanical Cell Phone

Any connoisseur of mechanical wonders should follow the blog over at The Long Now Foundation. Here is an excerpted post from their blog:

Early on in the Clock project we saw that of all the modern timepiece companies few were doing truly new things. One of the rare exceptions was Ulysse Nardin. Once we completed the first Clock prototype in fact we hosted Ludwig Oechslin their chief design innovator for several months here in San Francisco to evaluate our Clock which was very instructive.

Long Now member and alumni Camille Davila sent me a note about a recent development at Ulysse Nardin, a cell phone that is charged by an offset weight swinging around from the ambient motion of the owner. This is an adaptation from mechanical self winding watch technology of course, but it is very cool to see it crossing over into other personal electronics. You can see more on this on their website here.

The Highest Craftsmanship

There really isn't enough attention drawn to the beauty of craftsmanship in an Original Black Forest Cuckoo Clock. One must marvel at the complexity and quality of the mechanical clock works, particularly when these are made today in the midst of a throwaway market.

In an age when you are paid to destroy and throw away aging machines, these Black Forest clockmakers are brave craftsman. They boldly construct these pieces according to the traditions of a forgotten era. Each precision-cut tooth of every wheel is painstakingly adjusted. The actions that these gears perform is something that is easily synthesized with some plastic, solder, and silicon, but the brass and steel make the experience more real somehow. The action ITSELF is more of an artistic piece.

Sometimes it is not enough to ask "WHAT" but to ask "HOW." A mechanical clock performs the action of telling time in a far more interesting and fulfilling way. As each second ticks by on your mechanical clock take a moment to reflect on the fact that you aren't wasting batteries... you aren't polluting the atmosphere... take a moment to marvel on the inventive way your clock or watch works.

related sites:
Artistic re-interpretations of the cuckoo clock

Thursday, September 03, 2009

NEW novelty items!!

North Coast Imports is pleased to introduce a fun NEW line of novelty clocks called Coo Clocks. There is a menagerie of characters that call out on the hour... an elephant, a dog, an orangutan... the cuckoo bird is caught by a CAT!

"Cuckoo... Meow"! On the hour out pops a proud feline - Tommy Tango - with a cuckoo friend in his embrace. The MeowCoo cat clock comes in a green housing with a swinging purple pendulum.

For nighttime a light sensor automatically shuts off the character when the room becomes dark. For encore performances there is a button on the side.

If you are interested in this clock please Email us at: - please be sure to include your zip code so we can direct you to a dealer in your area. We have a managerie of different animal characters available.

Check out our other Quartz Wall Clocks and our special /Design Website for more clocks like this one.