Deep in the Black Forest a long long time ago, in the tiny hamlet of Schoenwald, Germany, a truly innovative inventor went to work to try and make a mechanical device that would sound like the cuckoos in the woods. Using two different bellows that made two unique sounds and some whistles, he was able to recreate the bird’s call. The area where he lived was inhabited by other innovators like him, and over the years, they started making clocks. The winter days were long and tedious, and clock making because the favored pastime. They spent hours doing intricate paintings on native woods. They eventually incorporated the cuckoo bird mechanism into their clocks, and those clocks are as treasured today as they were then.

It sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it, but it’s true. These people produced the first clocks in 1640, and the area they lived in has come to be known as the most famous clock-making district in the world. You have to know the history of time-keeping to realize what truly advanced thinking these people were using. Up until the 17th century, the only methods of telling time were sundials and hourglasses. Although it isn’t known who invented the first clock, history tells us that they were introduced to the Black Forest region by a peddler coming from the area that is now the Czech Republic.

Early attempts to replicate the Bohemian clock were made out of wood. This included the inner workings of wooden gears. The weights were made of simple stones. The clock makers were extremely creative in their thinking, though, and they began designing more sophisticated and detailed clocks. By the 18th century, peddlers began carrying Black Forest cuckoo clocks in packs on their backs to sell in the world outside the forest.

It was 1738 when Franz Anton Ketterer, a master clock maker in the Black Forest region created the first cuckoo clock, and others soon followed his lead. These early clocks, however, looked very little like what we’ve come to consider a cuckoo clock today. They were made with square board faces and then painted lavishly. It took almost a century for the clocks to begin evolving into the styles that modern society has come to equate with the Black Forest. It was the middle of the 19th century when the intricately-carved and painted clocks we’ve grown to love first came into existence.

Today you can still buy cuckoo clocks that are manufactured in the Black Forest, and you don’t even have to travel there to do so. By going online you can find the website This company operates in the forest region, and all of their mechanical clocks are certified by the Black Forest Clock Association. There are traditional clocks with the bird on top, leaves surrounding the face, and pine cone weights and painted models, such as the 2009 Clock of the Year which is the Farm of the Goatherd. These clocks are equipped with either 1-day or 8-day movements, and some of them are musical.

By yanam49

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