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Wall Clocks

About the same time as mantel and table clocks were increasing in popularity, which resulted in a lower general cost for those timepieces, similar styles were made to hang on the wall. They used a spring or weights and a pendulum, just as mantel and table clocks did. Perhaps because they were not made to be moved from room to room the original square or rectangle shape was modified with more flowing shapes to the cases. As a fixed piece there was an earlier tendency to make wall clocks more lavish than the mantel clock. This became even more pronounced after the highly ornate mantel clocks began to be created in France in the early part of the 18th century. Click here to browse wall clocks. There was also not so great a concern for the weight of the case as there was with portable clocks, allowing some wall clocks to be larger, particularly those using a pendulum. Because of the ease of transportation, many of the clocks brought to America in the 17th century were mantel or wall clocks, floor clocks following later. Most of the early settlers simply did not bother with clocks, using the ones installed in church towers or town halls when a more precise measure of time was needed that the sun would provide. It wasn't until around the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries that clocks were made in American, mainly in Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore. It was in those and other cities where there were more wealthy people, who were not agrarian, who could contract for a wall clock to be made as most of those clocks were handcrafted at that time. By around 1830 wooden shelf and wall clocks were being mass-produced and sold by peddlers in the small towns that had sprung up around the farmland. For those able to afford them, clocks were still handcrafted in a variety of shapes, such as banjo clocks, lyre clocks, or round clocks as well as more fancy versions of traditional shapes. Wall clocks continue to be popular, mostly in kitchens and offices where space may not be available for a table or mantel clock.

One particular variety of wall clocks deserves special mention because of its almost universal popularity: the cuckoo clock. The cuckoo is a native bird of the forests and open country of Europe, with some relatives in American, most notably the roadrunner, made famous by cartoons with Wiley Coyote. There are almost as many myths and stories surrounding the creation of the cuckoo clock, as there might have been the live bird in the forests in the early 18th century. We will not try to resolve the discussions among those horological historians, rather simply say that these clocks began appearing in Southern Germany around the Black Forest around the middle of the 18th century. The design and style of these clocks has changed very little since then. Most often there is a chalet of wood, which contains the movement, with an opening door above the clock face out of which a cuckoo pops to chirp the time, along with a chime that rings the hour. They are weight driven with the weights of cast iron in the shape and color of pinecones, the accuracy of time maintained by a pendulum with the bob often in the shape of a leaf. The cuckoo clock became a staple of the clock industry in the Black Forest region of Bavaria so much so that the clock is often simply called a "Black Forest" clock, even though it's manufacture in the 20th century was throughout Europe and America. More designs were added to the chalet, often carvings of birds and animals on the sides or surrounding the face. An additional weight was added as the design flourished enabling the clock to also play a tune in addition to the cuckoo and striking of the hour. Other moving parts were added to some, Swiss dancers in a circle moving in and out of the case being a very popular one, as clockmakers enhanced the basic, classic design. Merritt' Antiques has an extensive variety of both antique and excellent modern recreations of Cuckoo Clocks. The classic ones are still made of wood in Bavaria and many antique cockoo clocks are available. Modern Cuckoo Clocks, while mass produced, are also made of wood and convey a very good resemblance to the older, hand crafted clocks because of the attention to detail and quality of the manufacturers. Those wood reproductions have been very careful to carry with them the sound and resonance of true antique clocks. Sadly, there are some modern reproductions that are made of plastic and lack the "distinct" sound of the bird.
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