Send me an E-mail
(Please, no questions
 about value.)

Instructions for sending photographs of your pieces with your question.

What was the Art Deco style originally known as?

Style Moderne
Streamlined Moderne
Arte Moderne.
                     To see the answer

Art Deco Collectibles: Fashionable Objets from the Jazz Age
by Rodney Capstick-Dale &
Diana Capstick-Dale

In the 1920s and 1930s the Art Deco style influenced everything from art and architecture, interiors and furnishings, automobiles and boats to the small, personal objects that were part of everyday life: Featuring high-quality photography and vintage illustrations and ephemera, this book brings these objects to life in exquisite detail for the first time. The objects in this themed book encompass the Deco style at its most alluring, as well as the modernity, excitement, and social revolution of the Jazz Age.

                                  More Books


The Story of Art Deco

This video explores the origins and history of the Art Deco style, from its beginnings in the early 20th century to the 1940s.

Click on the title to view.

And look for other videos in selected articles.

Have Bob speak
 on antiques to your group or organization.

More Information

Can't find what
 you're looking for?

Go to our Sitemap

Find out what's coming in the
2024 Summer Edition

of the

"In the
Good Ole Summertime"


Share pages of this ezine with your friends using the buttons provided with each article.

Download our
Decorative Periods and Styles Chart

Read our newest glossary:

Antique Furniture Terminology
 from A to Z

courtesy of AntiquesWorldUK

Videos have
come to

The Antiques

Expand your antiques experience.

Look for videos in various articles.

Just click on the
arrow to play.


French Art Deco Geometric Brooch

The Sound of the Old World
by Bob Brooke


Everyone knows the familiar sound of the cuckoo clock on the hour and the half hour. There’s something unique about that sound—not the harsh bim bam of some clocks or the loud chime of others, but a soft cuckoo, cuckoo.

It is widely believed that Franz Anton Ketterer designed and built the first cuckoo clock in his village of Schonwald in the Black Forest of Germany. However, the history of this unique clock dates back even further to around 1630 in the village of Triberg.

Glassmaking was a traditional craft of the Black Forest. According to legend, a peddler who sold glass made in the region, returned from a selling trip with a clock from Bohemia, now the Czech Republic. The province of Baden-Wiirttemburg lies deep in the Black Forest. Winters there are long, dark, cold. and with deep snowfalls. The weather limits the forestry and farming during this season, so a cottage clock industry grew there.

The local citizens copied the Bohemian clock and made the tools to craft it. Clockmakers assembled the clocks according to their own patterns and styles. Each made his own parts which weren’t interchangeable with any other maker’s. By the late 18th century, the clocks were a profitable export for the region and the villagers sold them as far away as Russia.

The First Cuckoo Clock
What came first, the cuckoo or the clock? Up to the 1730s, the Black Forest clockmakers produced simple clocks. In 1738 Franz Ketterer from the village of Schönwald decided to build a cuckoo for his clocks. So the bird with the original sound “cuckoo cuckoo” was born. German clockmakers made the call of the cuckoo the same way it is today, with two bellows sending air through pipes, much like a church pipe organ.

The first clocks were rather primitive. They had only 12-hour movements made of wood, including the moving parts. Many of the clocks had square faces painted with watercolor. But as time went on, cuckoo clock design and decoration grew more sophisticated. The bird’s wings and beaks became animated and some even sported applied feathers. The themes decorated the clocks were only limited to the imaginations of the painters who did their faces. Scenes included those showing hunting, family, and military motifs. Some even had porcelain columns and enameled dials.

As the popularity of the cuckoo clock increased, clockmakers began replacing some of the wooden movement pieces with metal and brass. This increased their durability and ensured that they would last longer. This advance in technology increased the number of clocks one woodcarver could make six times over the next 100 years.

By the late 19th century, cuckoo clockmaking had become an industry. Families would live and work together in large cottages, each individual working on the parts of the clock they specialized in with some making the frames, some making the clockworks, and others making and painting dials, making chains and gongs, and finishing metal parts. Some carved decorations while others assembled the movements, and still others fitted the movements in the cases.

Types of Cuckoo Clocks
During the latter part of the 18th century, the woodcarvers of the Black Forest produced over a half million cuckoo clocks per year—each made by hand. Clockmakers were so busy, they couldn’t ensure that all their orders would be filled on time.

The wood casing Is the primary feature that distinguishes the cuckoo clock. Clockmakers used the wood of the linden tree, a hardwood that grows in Europe, as well as walnut. They would purchase the woods well in advance so that they could be aged for two years.

The now traditional Black Forest clock design, the "Schilduhr" or shield clock, had a painted flat square wooden face behind which the clockmaker mounted the clockworks. On top of the square was usually a semicircle of highly decorated painted wood which contained the door for the cuckoo. These usually depicted floral patterns, so-called “Rosenuhren” or rose clocks, and often had a painted column on either side of the dial with the numerals painted in German Gothic style, normally by women. Others had illustrations of fruit as well. There was no cabinet surrounding the clockwork in this model. This design was the most prevalent between the end of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. These timekeepers were typically sold from door to door by "Uhrenträger" or clock peddlers who would carry the dials and movements on their backs in huge backpacks. About half of all 18th-century cuckoo clocks were shield clocks.

From the 1850s to the 1870s, Black Forest clockmakers created another type of clock known as "Rahmenuhr" or framed clock. As the name suggests, these wall cuckoo clocks consisted of a picture frame, usually with a typical Black Forest scene painted on a piece of wood or metal. Common themes included hunting, love, family, death, birth, mythology, military and Christian religious scenes. Clockmakers often used works by painters such as Johann Baptist Laule and Carl Heine to decorate the fronts of this and other types of clocks. The painting was almost always protected by a sheet of glass and some models displayed a person or an animal with blinking or flirty eyes as well, being operated by a simple mechanism worked by means of the swinging pendulum. The cuckoo normally popped out of the painted scene to announce the hour.

The "chalet" style cuckoo clock originated at the end of the 19th century in Switzerland. Made in the shape of a typical Swiss chalet, some also had a cuckoo bird and other types of animated figurines, such as woodcutters, moving beer drinkers, and turning water wheels. Some "traditional" style cuckoo clocks also feature a music box and dancing figurines. There are three basic styles, named after the type of traditional house depicted—the Black Forest chalet, Swiss chalet, with two types, the "Brienz" and the "Emmental," and finally the Bavarian chalet.

But the popular house-shaped Bahnhäusleuhr, or railroad house clock, virtually forced the discontinuation of other designs within a few decades. When building the railroad through the rocky Black Forest area around 1860, it was necessary to build many tunnels. For this, the German Railroad hired skilled tunnel-builders from Italy. Alongside the railroad, they built guard residences, the so-called "Bahnwärterhäusles," in the Italian style. Adorned with wild grape vines, they were the inspiration for this special type of cuckoo clock.

In September 1850, the first director of the Grand Duchy of Baden Clockmakers School in Furtwangen, Robert Gerwig, launched a public competition to submit designs for modern clockcases.

Friedrich Eisenlohr, an architect responsible for creating the buildings along the then new Badenian Rhine Valley Railroad, submitted a design. He enhanced the facade of a standard railroad guard’s residence, as he had built many of them, with a clock dial. His "Wallclock with shield decorated by grape vines," became the prototype of today’s popular souvenir cuckoo clocks.

By 1860, the Bahnhäusle style had started to develop away from its original design towards a case with three-dimensional woodcarvings, like the Jagdstück or "Hunt piece", design created in Furtwangen in 1861, a cuckoo clock with carved oak foliage and hunting motifs, such as trophy animals, guns, and powder pouches.

By 1862 clockmaker Johann Baptist Beha started to enhance his richly decorated Bahnhäusle clocks with hands carved from bone and weights cast in the shape of fir cones. Even today this combination of elements is characteristic of cuckoo clocks, although the hands are usually made of wood or plastic.

Cuckoo Clock Movements

There are two kinds of movements----30-hour and 8-day. Some have musical devices, and play a tune on a Swiss music box after striking the hour and half-hour. Usually the melody sounds only at full hours in 8-day clocks and both at full and half hours in the 30-hour timepieces.

Two tiny pipes in the clock, with bellows attached to their tops, create the sound of the "cuckoo." The clock's movement activates the bellows to send a puff of air into each pipe alternately when the timekeeper strikes.

Antique Cuckoo Clocks
Cuckoo clocks are also highly prized antiques. Collectors seek handcrafted ones with a provenance, but they also hunt for the best factory-made cuckoo clocks. They especially seek those dating from the 1850s, based on the name of the maker. Names like Gustav Becker, the United Freiburg Clock Factory, Winterhalder & Hofmeier, Kienzie, Junghans. and the Hamburg .American Clock Company are among the most collectible.

Travelers on the Grand Tour purchased many of these as souvenirs of the Black Forest of Germany, as well as western Austria, and Switzerland. The cuckoo clock known today is the most popular form of ornamental clock—one that’s decorative as well as functional.
More photos of the Boal Museum and Columbus Chapel.

< More Special Features                                                       Next Article >

Antiques Q&A

Antiques and More on

The Antiques Almanac on Facebook

No antiques or collectibles
are sold on this site.

How to Recognize and Refinish Antiques for Pleasure and Profit

Book: How to Recognizing and Refinishing Antiques for Pleasure and Profit
Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

Read an Excerpt

Auction News
Get up to the minute news of antiques auctions around the country and the world.

Also see
The Auction Directory

Antiques News
Read breaking news stories from the world of antiques and collectibles.

Art Exhibitions
Search for art exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world.

Home | About This Site | Antiques | Collectibles | Antique Tips | Book Shop | Antique Trivia | Antique Spotlight | Antiques News  Special Features | Caring for Your Collections | Collecting | Readers Ask | Antiques Glossaries | Resources | Contact
Copyright ©2007-2023 by Bob Brooke Communications
Site design and development by BBC Web Services