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The first cuckoo clock is believed to have been created by Franz Anton Ketterer in a German Black Forest village in 1730. Cuckoo clocks have weight-driven movements, with the weights dangling from chains under the clock in the shape of pine cones, acorns, or other figures. In modern spring-driven cuckoo clocks, the weights are merely decorative.
The clock sounds on the hour with one cuckoo for each hour, a sound produced by wind rushing through pipes when a bird or other figure emerges from the clock. The antique cuckoo clock has both pipes and casing made of wood, usually aged linden wood or a mixture of linden and walnut. Musical varieties of the clock play a tune after the hourly cuck-oo and may feature secondary figures dancing, hunting, chopping wood, or engaging in other activities.
Both modern and antique cuckoo clocks are sought after by collectors, aficionados, and tourists hunting souvenirs in Bavaria and beyond. The continued interest in cuckoo clocks can be attributed to the whimsical, quaint natures and charming craftsmanship of the clocks.
The largest cuckoo clock in the world is in Triberg, Germany with a total weight of six tons. The cuckoo bird is 14 feet long and weighs 330 pounds. The clock took four years to build
Cuckooland is a museum in Cheshire, United Kingdom founded by brothers Roman and Maz Piekarski, both horologists and clock restorers. The museum features more than 600 clocks from the Black Forest region, authentic Black Forest tools and machines, and a vintage motorcycle collection
A late 19th to early 20th century Swiss Black Forest wood cuckoo clock carved with birds and acorns realized a price of $1,577 at an auction by Christie’s of London in 2010