Monday, July 27, 2009

Another Musical Clock by Emilian Wehrle

This heavily carved musical wall trumpeter clock was made by Emilian Wehrle C1880.

It was located in the United States last year (2008), and a deal was struck this summer to bring it out West :) The clock is large over 44" in height. The carving is done extremely well. The clock has 7 full relief live animals, the most we have seen on a Wehrle...because of that reason we had to add it to the collection.The case is in mint condition, with no missing carvings.
This clock will need a musical restoration, which we will tackle this winter.

Check out this clocks and others just like it in our collection.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Black Forest Kastenuhr

In a previous post I showed an unusual example of the Rahmenuhr, or "Frame Clock."

Similar to that is the more boxy "Kastenuhr," or Box-style clock. Many of which had some painting and like a frame around the clock. You can actually see some pictures of other examples with reverse-painted glass that were sent in the comments. Here's a simpler one:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What an Odd Story

I couldn't let this one slide by. Here's an odd story for cuckoo clock lovers.

Police solve case of missing cuckoo clock

Doris Weiske only wanted the safe return of her cuckoo clock, which she entrusted to repair man Hugo Tejero months ago. Tejero — who had handed her business cards with a Plainfield telephone number, but no address — would pick the clocks up from her home in an unincorporated area near Joliet, vowing to return in a week.

Working off a photo and his license plate, police found Tejero living in Hoffman Estates.

Weiske said police told her Tejero seemed surprised to see them, but that he still had the clock and cards with Weiske's name and phone number written on them.

[via Suburban Chicago News]

For those of you wondering: that's an old Schmeckenbecher cuckoo she's holding. Here's another woodcutter cuckoo:

Post from John

The following is a post in from our friend John, who emailed me:

"Frühe Kuckucksuhren. Entwicklungsgeschichte der Schwarzwälder Kuckucksuhr von 1750 bis 1850". In this book Dr. Schneider includes a vast amount of new, original research regarding the history of early Black Forest clocks, clockmakers and their families (many of whose ancestors no longer survive). I have personally found the contents of this book to be essential to the identification of one of my clocks made by the long forgotten Eisenbach clockmaker Johann GEORG Beha.

It is my hope that those of you (like me!) that struggle outside the English language will find this summary helpful. Moreover, in the interest of highlighting the contents of this book in the most concise form, I have forgone the formality of proper English and adopted the outline form:

Selected topics summary of "Frühe Kuckucksuhren. Entwicklungsgeschichte der Schwarzwälder Kuckucksuhr von 1750 bis 1850":

1) This book contains a wealth of NEW information and research concerning the clocks, clockmakers and their families for the early period of Black Forest cuckoo clock development, namely 1750-1850. Whereas previous works have focused primarily upon the later (after ca. 1850) period of cuckoo clock development, this text, for the first time, focuses on the developmental history prior to 1850.

2) This book documents the roles and influence that the various clockmakers and their families played in the technical and business evolution of the Black Forest cuckoo clock design and industry. As many of the families that played key roles in, and even dominated, cuckoo clock production during 1750-1850 period have long since died out, this book documents a period of developmental history of the cuckoo clock industry that would otherwise be lost. For example, as I documented in my previous post, this work led to the identification of our "Beha" clock as a work of Johann GEORG Beha, a distant relative of Johann BAPTIST Beha, whose branch of the Beha family tree has long since become extinct.

3) From the purely pragmatic perspective of identifying the maker's of one's EARLY (1750-1850) cuckoo clocks, this work should be very helpful as Dr. Schneider has included in this book numerous colored photos illustrating both the decorative and technical (movement design and construction) that can be used as comparative examples ("standards"). The numerous summary tables he includes in his book are also very helpful in this regard.

For those of you who are German "challenged", I have found the most convenient way to translate the text in a German language book is to scan the pages into a text editor and then subsequently paste the German text into a German-to-English) language translator (such as Goggle Language Tools) to get a "machine" English translation. The English that comes out of the "machine" translation is not poetic (or even pretty) but the content can be understood.

Finally, in the interest in preserving as much capital as possible for future clock purchases, this book can be purchased directly from Dr. Schneider via his email address

Thanks John! We'd love to see more pictures from your collection!

Secure Chains for Shipping

I've had some questions on the best way to ship cuckoo clocks. Besides making sure you have enough soft packaging (you should have at least 4 inches of bubble wrap in all directions) you'll want to make sure all of the dangly parts are secure.

As I mentioned in a previous post, you'll want to wind your clock first and remove the weights before taking it off of the wall. This will leave only the winding side free. You can wrap these loose chains around the bottom of the clock.

In order to keep them in place, stick a rubber band through the rings and hook them onto the clock.

It's also very very important to remove the weights and pendulum from their hooks and wrap these separately - perhaps even in a separate box. If the weights aren't tightly packed away from the clock they will become like missiles when the box is in motion. When they come loose they can very easily rip large chunks out of you precious clock's beautiful facade.

-Make sure the weights can't move!-

Also, be sure to remove any other easily-removable parts, such as the top piece and antlers, deer head, etc. You can wrap all of these separately. If you are sending the clock anywhere for a repair, the repairman will not need these decorative items. They may not even need the pendulum and weights - it's best to ask first.

Continue Time

Here's something interesting...

On this Continue Time clock, two out of the three pointers rotate around another pointer, instead of the central point on the clock face, as with traditional clocks. The resulting kinetic artwork, and functional clock, is continuously changing its shape during a full rotation of twelve hours. While creating mesmerizing patterns on your wall the pointers are still read as with any traditional clock. The Continue Time clock measures 105 centimeters from end to end; a full 12 hours will span a circle of 210 centimeters centimeters of wall.

[via Makezine]

Remember, there are more fascinating clocks of modern design here:

Fine Craftsmanship

Jim Seller's made this amazing box full of gorgeously-machined art-widgets as a gift for a friend. It doesn't actually do anything, except make people feel really good looking at the craftsmanship and love involved. Jim wanted to make something in the style of a 19th century scientific instrument. He calls it the ETD (Earth Tremor Detector).

[via Makezine]

Monday, July 20, 2009

More Antique Black Forest Clocks

Before the traditional hunting model cuckoo, there was the Bahnhäusle. Before the Bahnhäusle, and after the Shield cuckoo, there was the Rahmenuhr...

Here is a great example from c.1880 with a gold-embossed face. This style might be borrowed from the Morbiers in France and Belgium(?)

This Rahmenuhr, or frame clock has an excellently preserved movement with wooden plates. (See the rabbit silhouette at the top?)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Universal Measurements

Time is, of course, a measurement. As horologists, we are interested in the development of technology used to get the most accurate measurement possible.

I came accross this fascinating article, where...

"These silicon spheres, manufactured by metrologists at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) as part of efforts to alleviate dependence on the International Prototype Kilogram, have properties that are as close to truly exact as measurable properties are likely to be for a long time to come: They weigh 1.0000000 kilograms, are smooth to the nearest 0.0000000003 meter, and are round to within 0.000000050 meters. One of them is even monoisotopic." Via boing2.

[via MAKEzine]

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Recap on the /design Series

Fans of North Coast Imports already know about our new and exciting /design series clocks, but we've been adding materials to the website that you need to know about.

Check out on our site for a new video of these great clocks.

related articles: DESIGN

Unpacking and setting up your NEW Cuckoo Clock

Congratulations lucky owners of new cuckoo clocks! Welcome to the world of clock collecting and horology! Now that you have this treasured heirloom you'll want to follow this blog for more helpful hints and tips on the care of your clock, as well as fascinating information on fun, clock-related news items. We are also pleased to be posting many interesting articles by antique clock experts and their fascinating collections.

Check out the sidebar menu of this blog for extra navigational help. This website is huge, with tons of information on a range of horological subjects. On the sidebar, you can see an index for clock adjustments, as well as an index of terms. You can also see an index of instructional articles here or on our main website under "Instructions."

To get you started, here's a three-part video on how to setup and hang your new cuckoo clock!

Related Posts: Unpack Your Black Forest Clock, Cuckoo Instructions (PDF), Adjusting the Bird's Tail

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cuckoo in the Arts (poetry)

From Robert Frost's Banjo: Today’s poem is by Robert Desnos, a marvelously lyrical poet who was very much a part of the Surrealist movement in the 1920s, but who later broke with the Surrealists (& in particular André Breton). I think you'll agree that “Cuckoo” presents a lovely, fairy-tale like dreamscape. The title might be translated as “Cuckoo-Clock,” (because "coucou" in French also means the clock) but this isn’t the primary meaning, which simply refers to the bird. Of course, as I believe Eberle used to tell her writing students, “if you have a radiator & leopard skin pants, you already have a jungle,” so course you have a cuckoo clock once you have a cuckoo."


It was all as if in a childlike picture
The moon wore an opera hat that eight reflections ricocheted off
across the surface of ponds
The ghost dressed in a natty shroud
Was smoking a cigar at the window of his room
At the castlekeep's top story
Where the sagacious crow told the cats their fortunes.
There was the child in her nightgown lost in the snow's paths
Having searched inside her shoes for the silk fan and the high heels
There was the conflagration against which, immense,
The firemens' shadows stood out,
But, above all, there was the fleeing thief, a big sack on his back,
On the road the moon whitewashed
Escorted by the barking of dogs in the sleeping villages
And by the cackling of hens startled awake.
I am not rich, said the spectre flicking the ash from his cigar, I am not rich
But I'll bet a hundred bucks
He'll go far if he keeps it up.
Vanity all is vanity, answers the crow.
And what about your sister? asked the cats.
My sister has beautiful jewels and beautiful spiders
In her castle of night.
An innumerable mass of servants
Comes every night to put her to bed.
When she wakes she has a piece of cake, and witchgrass, and a toy trumpet
To blow into.
The moon laid its top hat on the earth
And that made for a dense night
Where the ghost dissolved like a sugar cube in coffee.
The thief looked a long time for his lost path
And wound up falling asleep
And nothing was left beyond the earth
Except a smoky blue sky where the moon sponged its brow
And the lost child who was walking into the stars.
Here’s your beautiful fan
And your dancing shoes,
Your grandmother's corset
And rouge for your lips
You can dance amidst stars
You can dance for the beautiful ladies
Across the array of heavenly roses
From which one falls each night
To reward the sleeper who dreamed the most beautiful dream.
Slip on your shoes and lace your corset
Put one of these roses in your bodice
And some rouge on your lips
And now sway your fan
So there still may be on earth
Nights after days
Days after nights

Robert Desnos
translation © John Hayes 1990-2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cuckoos in the Arts

Followers of North Coast Imports know that we are pleased as punch to be introducing an entirely new line of cuckoo clocks in our /design series. These clocks are a marriage of fine tradition with fine arts (and design). We are even planning an ancillary exhibition tour of artworks by the Black Forest artists who are responsible for creating these clocks.

It's good to see that we are not alone in creating a body of artistic work centered around the cuckoo clock. I recently read about The Bird House, a one-act play by Kate Marks receiving its world premiere at Theatre Three.

"The play's action begins in a brightly colored tree house in a land called The Bright Side where Louisy (Cotton Wright) and Syl (Christina Shipp) live in a sheltered ignorance that is decidedly not bliss. Initially, the primary source of their anxiety is that the two birds in their cuckoo clock (named "Cuck" and "Koo") can't be made to stay any longer than it takes for them to sound each hour. Soon, pretty bluebirds are crashing into their windows and ants are marching into the house. The girls can't shut themselves off from the world. Syl eventually leaves for The Lop Side, encountering a war-torn landscape and learning as many life lessons as Louisy, who is left behind in the tree house."

I'm sorry I'll miss the play!

Friday, July 10, 2009

What is Steampunk?

For reasons that will soon become clear to you, we at North Coast Imports, are especially fond of a new sub-genre the kids are all talking about - called Steampunk

I thought I would write up a short blog post about this great thing, but keep in mind that this post only scratches the surface. There are authors, costumers, artists, film directors, hobbiests, tinkerers, and inventors all adding to and building on Steampunkery at an alarming rate. You can read about Steampunk on Wikipedia, of course, but there are also blogs ... and ... web forums aplenty.

"What does a Steampunk do?" You may ask. A Steampunk might collect recordings of turn-of-the-century steam engines. Someone enamored with the Steampunk aesthetic might also turn their humdrum computer into a work of art that looks like it came from Jules Verne's imagination...

...or, a Steampunk might dress the part...

The idea might be summed up as a longing for re-injecting style and beauty into our otherwise cold and artless modern lives. There was a sense of style and craftsmanship of the steam era that might as well be revisited today. Why shouldn't a computer be beautiful? Everyday items should inspire imagination and be aesthetically pleasing while still carrying out their functions., Steampunk items tend to portray an alternate timeline... as if machines like Charles Babbage'sAnalytical Engine was allowed to evolve in the mainstream of technology, or if the Hindenberg didn't crash, or if the microchip were never invented... our present day might look a lot like the Steampunks' expression - everything would have to be done with clockwork and steam pressure.

...but I feel that the important lesson to be learned is the idea that all things can and must be interesting to look at. Why settle for doldrum-looking devices and tools that only serve the function they must.

Clocks are a perfect example.

Mechanical clocks are interactive works of art that provide a daily function. They are kinetic sculpture. They are tools that don't require electricity to run.

If you're a member of the Steampunk family, browse our website. If you're a horologist, look into the world of Steampunkery. You won't be disappointed...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Cuckoos everywhere

I have programmed Google to alert me of any mention of the word "Cuckoo Clock" around the world... it comes up with some interesting stuff, as you can imagine. Sometimes it's not relevant to a clock collector, and sometimes it's just silly...

"Brüno: Ich come from a wery talented family. My father was one of ze most celebrated cuckoo clock beak makers in ze whole of Schlesswigholstein und mein brother, Durgel, runs ze biggest laminating company in Klagenfurt. He’s amazing - he can laminate anything. In fact, he’s basically ze Johnny Depp of laminating."