Cuckoo Clock History

The true origins of cuckoo clocks are shrouded in mystery.

The idea for the development of the Black Forest Cuckoo Clock was probably brought to the area through glass salesmen from Strasburg. In the famous artistical Strasburger cathedral clock, a rooster crows every hour to announce the hour time. In any case, around 1750 the so-called Schottenuhr clock design (special Black Forest painted wooden shield clock) began to appear with a cuckoo that came out of a small door at the top of the clock face, proclaiming the time every hour.

These clocks were highly coveted and extremely expensive rarities.

Soon a new variety of the cuckoo clock was developed with a brown-stained, oak clockface in the shape of a railroad-house. Today this world-known, wood-carved Black Forest Cuckoo Clock is produced in the same form as in the beginning.

The carvings vary according to design: carved leaves, hunter design, or a miniature house. Many extras have been added to enhance the clock design: 8-day clock movement, turnoff switch, minute hand which can also be turned backwards, and the choice of a music box built into the clock.

As can be seen, the Black Forest Clock is far more than a beautiful souvenir – this clock has impacted the development of our area in a large way.

17 thoughts on “Cuckoo Clock History

  1. This is March 2015. I have a similar clock from my grandparents. The mechanism says it is made in West Germany. Rhonda’s description closest. No stench marks on inside of rear door. Have you found anything further about these clocks? http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?37885-History-of-Cuckoo-Clock-Mfg-Co has some company history. I saw another site referring to a Linden Cuckoo Clock speculating that 73 stamped on mechanism was a manufacture date. I would doubt that because my grandmother would not have bought the one I have in 1969. My speculation is that is a model number for the mechanism. But that leaves a question about the number 1050-020.

  2. Hello ,I just open a 8 day clock that been in the family for 50 plus years. was in a wooden crate and sealed with red wax paper. This is the first time that it been open since from the factory. Trying to get a value on it without taking wrapping paper off. the booklet has Schatz 8 day clock. On packing paper inside had M08/8 then some other writing looks to be german. Outside box has Ne708/8 and the sticker for Schatz. If you can help would be great. or please steer me to someone who can please. thank you for your time, David Holt

    • Hello David, We do not have information on the value of antique cuckoo clocks. You would need to take it to an antique dealer who specializes in clocks. For the most part, cuckoo clocks are not rare since they are passed down and built to last decades or longer.

  3. Hi,

    I have just bought a chalet style Black Forest cuckoo clock from Titisee. I notice that the clock strike 1 minute past the hour rather than at the hour ie. minute hand at ’12’. How do I get it to strike correctly? Can I push the minute hand backward by 1 minute to make it correct.

    Must really thank you for your informative website. Wish I had gotten a bigger clock as the clock face is quite small. Also should have gotten another one since I have 2 children and would be nice to pass down one to each of them in future.

  4. Hi, Bernd,
    I have a chain driven cuckoo clock with three drive chains and pendulum and a brass movement with 100/171 engraved on the mechanism. The label on the lid of the clock has: Kuckluckswalzer, Bayrischer Ländler and the numbers: 2785 86.
    The clock has a cuckoo and a turntable with four pairs of dancers.
    Could you date this clock for me?
    Incidentally, the drive chains and weights are dislodged from their cogs. Is their a repair manual I could purchase from you?
    Regards.

  5. My grandmother has a cuckoo clock and I really want one from Switzerland since that is where my great grandma is from but I would also love a cuckoo clock from Germany since I have family from there as well do you have any website suggestions on where I can place an order for such clocks and they must be Vintage or Antique…..any help would be great thanks!

    • Hi Sarah, All REAL cuckoo clocks come from the Black Forest of Germany 🙂 Of course, I can recommend our website for new cuckoos! I can’t recommend anyone for vintage cuckoo clocks, that would be the territory of an antique dealer. Just be careful as most cuckoo clocks last a very very long time and thus do not have collector’s value unless they are very old or special. We often have people come into our PA store with working clocks 60-100 years old. So don’t pay a premium for vintage unless you know its special. You should also have it inspected first by a clock specialist.

  6. My clock that has operated for decades has failed. The clock operates albeit fast without the pendulum but the weight of the pendulum stops the clock. Is it possible the spring mechanism that drives the pendulum has weakened and needs to be replaced. What do you think? The mounting is square and plumb. Thank you.

  7. I recently purchased a clock that has a face with Roman Numerals, has settings for 3 different chimes & silent, and there are 3 keyholes, the case is square and says West Germany on the back. The face of the clock says West Germany also. When I open the door on the back the internal component has 69 Cuckoo Clock Mfg Co Inc TWO (2) JEWELS Made in West Germany Unadjusted 1050-020. Can you tell me anything about this clock?

    • Hi Rhonda, Unfortunately I don’t have any history on that clock. There have been a lot manufacturers over the years. You can tell it was made between when the Berlin Wall went up and came down. This sounds like a mantel clock vs. a cuckoo clock?

      • I have a “Made in Germany” 1050-020 mantel clock mfgd by Cuckoo Clock Mfg Co. The number #1281 is stenciled with white paint on the inside of the rear door that opens to reveal the mechanisms inside. Not sure what the numbers are indicative of, model #, style #, part #?

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