Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Special Musical Clock by Emilian Wehrle

Fall is here, and as the weather cools we start to spend more time indoors. During the cold months we really pick up steam focusing on our collection of Black Forest clocks.Today as I was doing some "house keeping" dusting the collection... I thought of sharing this wonderful clock we have with you.

This fantastic clock has been in our care for many years.

Made C. 1874 this Singing Bird Clock (Singvogeluhr) by Emilian Wehrle of Furtwangen... is as impressive today as the day it was made.

The fully feathered bird is 6.5 inches from beak to tail. It is fully automated with movements in his beak, head, and tail.

Perched on the top of the clock on a carved vase of fruit and leaves, it is clearly visible and looks alive.

The carvings on this clock are all done in walnut, and the style of the case is very unique.

This clock utilizes a robust brass plate movement, with large double pumping bellow system mounted above the clock works (very similar to Wehrle's Trumpeter and Flute Clocks.)

The clock movement generates it own air pressure and by opening and closing a valve, air is moved through a large flute with a plunger. A cam wheel on the back operates the valve and the plunger to reproduce the sound of the song bird while controlling the bird and the Automation.

The beak runs in perfect sequence with the large song and boy does this bird look and sound alive!

This clock is featured in Emilian Wehrle's 1874 Catalog as No. 1 (see illustration). Originally, it cost of 180 Gold Marks in 1874. Just to put this into perspective, a very nice Beha cuckoo could be had for 25 marks.

Very few of these Singing Bird Clocks were made, even fewer survived. Making them almost impossible to locate today.

I am not aware of a museum worldwide that has a example of a Em. Wehrle Singing Bird Clock, although there are a few in private collections.

This unique clock was also published in the 2008 edition of Schwarzwalduhren, by Berthold Schaaf (The authoritative text on Black Forest Clocks, see sidebar for a list of other recommended reading and resources.)


Justin J. Miller


For more information on Singing Bird or Whistling Automata:
Article, Whistling Clock Peddler, Singing Birds in a Cage

...and here's a video of a modern "slide whistle" mechanism Justin describes above:

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