Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Rare Apostle Automata Table Clock By Gordian Hettich, Furtwangen

We want to share with you another clock that is a special part of our collection. This is a large Black Forest shelf clock with Automata. It was made by Gordian Hettich and Sohn in Furtwangen, Germany C. 1890.

The case on this piece is done in oak to replicate a Cathedral. In the center of the Cathedral is a large silvered dial that tells the time. Above the dial is two large turrets in the upper tower of the Cathedral.

On the hour the Church bells toll (on three deep gongs). As the bells toll... the two large doors on the upper turrets open. The twelve apostles proceed to walk out of the right turret door and cross the open balcony to the other side. When the last of the Twelve enters the door on the opposite tower the bells stop and the doors close. This is repeated on the hour every hour or on demand.

According to the GHS factory catalog which we have in our collection. The figures of the twelve apostles were reproduced from the famous masterwork works of sculpture Peter Vischer which can be seen in Nürnberg.

All 12 figures are holding items in their hands, from the holy scriptures to weapons to protect Jesus. The last of the twelve is holding a large sack of coins... there is no question to his identity!

The automation can also be activated on demand by a pull cord. There is also a shut off lever with an ivory knob pushing this knob in towards the case will deactivate the automation and gongs, for peace and quiet.

The movement in this clock is a large cast brass movement which is heald together with tapered pins. The movement is clearly stamped GHS on the the bottom center of the back plate. This is a unique and complex movement that was made for the apostle clock, meaning it was produced just for this piece, and not a normal production movement that was modified by the factory.

The automation is controlled by a set of large drive gears located above the plates of the movement. When these drive gears turn they rotate to large wood drums. A hand made brass "chain" runs around these drums, and the wood carved apostles are fixed to the top of the chain standing one infront of the other. When the barrels turn the apostles are looped through the front of the clock across the balcony and back to the inside of the case. There is also a series of cams that open and close the two doors on the front of the turrets at the correct time. A series of three hammers strike three separate high quality gongs, which are mounted to a rod fixed to the bottom of the case.

The time section of the movement will run for 8 days on a winding, the automation and strike must be wound every 36 hours.

We do not know how many of these Apostle Automaton clocks were produced by GHS, but we do know they are extremely rare today. This example with the Ortenburger pedigree... will always hold a special spot in our collection.

This identical clock was documented in the book, "Black Forest Clocks" by Rick Ortenburger in 1991. This book is the most complete and authoritative book on the subject published in English.

This clock was worthy to have a full page dedicated to it, showing both the front as well as the movement with a detailed description. This is an honor held by only a small handful of special clocks throughout the 265+ page text.

For us... this clock represents the end of a nearly 10 year search, to locate and purchase this piece. Years ago we set out to find, locate, and purchase several of the unique or Rare Black Forest clocks that were photographed in the Ortenburger text. Over the past decade we have located nearly all of the clocks on our list, and they are now a part of our private museum.

This clock is being shown here as we purchased it.

The bars seen in the photo above were added to keep the figures upright. When the automation is in action they move across the track,and they tend to wobble around and get hung up.

You can see in the photo taken from Ortenburgers text the bars have been there since at least 1991. Since they are not permidently attached to the clock, and aid in the automation working without problems... we have decided to leave them on the clock.

The clock is in working condition, and we have included a video to show you this piece in action.

The clock does need some minor restoration to the case, which we have plans to get underway in 2010.

We will update this post when the clock is finished.


Justin J. Miller

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Closer look at a Black Forest Peddler Timepiece UHRENTRÄGER

In this post we want to share with you a little more information about a rare miniature clock produced in the Black Forest. There were many different types of miniatures made in the black Forest including the Sorg or Sorguhr, Jockele,and Scottenuhr. The clock peddler or Uhrentrager was also a form of miniature made C. 1850-60.

The clock peddler is a prominent symbol of the Black Forest clock industry. It is an image that is still used today. The history of the clock peddler goes back to the early Black Forest clock industry, where the farmers would produce clocks in the cold winter months. In the spring the young men would load them up on their back and travel to far aways places, selling the clocks.

In the mid 19Th C. the first Black Forest timepieces where made in the image of the clock peddler, these figures are dressed in the traditional Black Forest attire. The figure is made of sheet tin, hand formed into the likeness of the peddler. He stands on a linden wood base, which is then veneered in a fancy burl. The peddler stands anywhere from 15-16" high.

In his arms he holds a miniature working timepiece. This miniature clock is under 3" high and is fully functioning. The front shield has an enamel dial. A miniature pendulum swings below as the clock ticks. The movement is a quality thick brass plate movement with a silk thread suspension and will run for one day.

In his left hand he holds the pendulums for the clocks he carries to sell. On his back is another clock, this clock is a non functioning example. The dial on the clock on the back lifts to reveal a small space for holding the key that is used to wind the clock.

While these Black Forest miniatures have been produced from the mid 19C. up until modern times... the original period examples are extremely rare and collectible. A good clean example will easily bring thousands at auction.

We currently have two examples in our collection (although we will most likely end up holding on to just one of the two).

The photos of this example here is the newest addition to our collection,and is being shown as it arrived to us from Europe today. It is an extremely original example, that retains its original paint and all accessories.

We have put together a small you tube video on the uhrentrager, so you can see what a period example looks like up close (and inside).

We hope you enjoy this rare look at a special early Black Forest clock.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trumpeter Clock made by Emilian Wehrle C. 1880

Today we spent a good amount of time rearranging clocks in the collection to find the right spot to display a new addition of another Large Emilian Wehrle musical clock, it is always challenging to integrate these large pieces with the rest of the collection... but we could have worse problems! ;)
After getting all the clocks into their new spots... we took some pictures of some "old friends" and decided to share one of them with you here today. While this clock is featured on our blog in a earlier post, we believe the photos taken today will give you a better look at this wonderful piece.

This trumpeter clock was made by Emilian Wehrle C.1880 in Furtwangen, Germany. It represents the absolute pinnacle of all trumpeter clocks which were ever produced. The movement is a 8 day three train movement, the largest Wehrle made. It is a 8 horn example, which plays the William Tell Overture on the hour.

The case is unreal, it is truly a clock that must be seen in person to truly appreciate and understand. Pictures do not do this piece justice...or show how massive this clock truly is... and the presence it has on the room. It is a clock that must be displayed by itself, as any other carved clock that we own is immediately humbled, and hides in this clocks shadow.
Every inch of the case is carved. The front case, the side of the case, the roof,the side doors, even under the roof where it is not visible. The detail is unreal.
This clock is 44.5" high and over 30" wide. This piece is over 100 pounds. It has been well carved for its whole life, and is in wonderful original condition. On a earlier post you can hear the music that this clock plays on the hour.

It is one of our favorites in the collection, and a clock we believe no matter how long we search, will never find another superior.

We are always looking to document other musical clocks made by Emilian Wehrle. If you have a Wehrle clock of any quality, in any condition we would love to "talk clocks"


Justin J. Miller

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Monumental Emilian Wehrle Musical Automata Clock

We just added this 50" Emilian Wehrle musical shelf clock to our collection.

This clock is exquisitely carved shelf example, made c 1880 in Furtwangen, Germany. There are 8 full relief live animals carved into this monster case. The top has a family of three mountain goats high up on a rocky ledge. Fern, grass, oak leafs and acorn make up the motif down the sides of the case. At the bottom of the forest floor there is a family of 5 birds with rocks and ferns.

This clock has the largest movement that Emilian Wehrle made. A 8 day three train (time, strike, and Music) movement. On the hour two large flute players step forward and one of two musical tunes is played on a rank of 8 wood pipes.

This clock is being showed as we purchased it. Although it is in excellent original condition.. it does need a musical overhaul and some minor carving work done (and one hand repair).We will be starting the work very soon, and will have the clock full restored by early spring.

We just purchased this clock in New York City, from the Schwartz family who have owned it for over 100 years. The current owners father immigrated to the US in 1890 and was a watch maker and jeweler. His main retail store "L.B. Schwartz" was located on the Corner of 5th Avenue and Bergen Street in Brooklyn, NY. This clock graced his flagship store until 1946.

Here is a photo of the L.B. Schwartz 1906 store in Brooklyn, NY

These two photos are of Mr. Schwartz behind the counter and at his work bench.

The clock was inherited by his son long ago now in his 80's... and through his research looking for a good home for this clock... We were contacted through our website, and a deal was struck. I personally flew out to NYC and safely collected the clock within 24 hours of making a deal.

We are always interested in hearing about other fantastic Black Forest Clocks, and will travel for good pieces.

If you have a Black Forest Clock that you believe we would be interested in, We would love to hear from you. We are always buying quality Black Forest Clocks to add to our private museum.


Justin J. Miller