New Black Forest Book
From the article:
Collectors Weekly: Was Johann Baptist Beha a well-known clockmaker?
Miller: Yes, he’s definitely the most prominent cuckoo clockmaker in the Black Forest, and his clocks are collected aggressively. His clocks are usually regarded as the pinnacle of cuckoo clock making, whether deservedly or not.
If you look at Black Forest clocks as a whole, a lot of them were very cheaply done. They were made for middle- or lower middle-class customers, and most manufacturers were competing with each other, racing to have the lowest price. And how do you lower price? Well, you cut quality and you cut costs.
One of Miller's most exotic clocks is a cuckoo with a three-train movement and a life-size bird perched on top, designed by Johann Baptist Beha around 1880.
But Beha basically said, “We’re not going to race to the bottom. We’re going to make clocks of high quality for people who can afford them, and people who value high-end clocks will pay for them.” Many of his clocks stand out as really high-quality pieces, with detailed carving and movements that run for eight days, which was atypical of what you generally would find in a cuckoo clock manufacturer.
Johann Baptist Beha was also the first to take Eisenlohr’s railway-house design and incorporate a cuckoo into it. He was an innovator as well; Beha was the first one to make a cuckoo clock movement powered by springs, so it could be placed on a table or shelf.
However, Beha still worked in the traditional cottage industry, which meant that he didn’t actually make the whole clock. It was kind of like the auto industry in Detroit, where there are lots of individual businesses in the area all contributing to the same product. Beha would make the movements, and submit designs for the cases, but there would be a carver or a case maker who would actually make the cases. There would be someone who specialized in making the hands out of bone, someone who made the weights, someone that made the pipes to produce the cuckoo’s call. Basically, the clockmaker would be responsible for orchestrating all these individual parts and combining them into a finished clock. So although Beha had his own workshop where he produced his own movements, there were lots of people that contributed to his products.
So you have this small region where you have lots of people making clocks, utilizing the same suppliers. That creates problems today, because a lot of people don’t realize Beha didn’t make his own cases; the person supplying cases for Beha was also supplying the cases to Aron Ketterer and other makers, so the outward appearance of these clocks might be identical in every way. Because Beha rarely signed or marked his clocks, many of Ketterer’s products are falsely attributed to the Beha firm....