Monday, January 24, 2011

An Extreamly Rare Black Forest Shelf Clock with Owl Automaton

This is our newest addition to the collection, and it is a clock that we are so exited to add to our collection and share with you today.

At first look this clock appears to be a shelf trumpeter, with an unusual castle motif... but this is in fact something quite different.

This shelf clock is constructed in the form of a Castle, and beautifully carved. In the top arch of the castle is a large set of double doors, similar in size to what would be found on a trumpeter clock. Instead of the common cuckoo bird or trumpeter a large 3" carved owl with big glass eyes appears behind the doors and calls the full and half hours. As the owl sounds his beak flutters.

The movement is equally interesting. The plates are cast from brass in the lyre form, held together with pins. On the left side of the case is a large oversize wood pipe, with a large bellow. The arm that pumps (flutters) this large bellow needs substantially more leverage than a cuckoo clock. For this reason the clock maker placed it on the time side of the movement... and interesting design. To reproduce the owls call, the bellow is lifted to half capacity and then rapidly fluttered...reproducing the owls call.

It is hard to put into words how rare this clock is... but to give you an idea...

A Wehrle Singing Bird clock is also rare, as is his Rooster clocks, but we know where a handful of each are today. The same thing applies to the Beha cuckoo clocks with life size 12" birds...also very scarce, but we know where there are several. This clock is different.

In all our years of collecting rare Black Forest clocks we have never seen another... not in a book, a museum, a private collection even a photograph... NEVER.

In fact this clock was brought out of the shadows during a lively discussion online among advanced collectors in 2010...the conversation was about if an Owl clock was ever made, or if an antique version exists. Down the line the answer was an owl clock does not exist. Of course after collecting Black Forest clocks for years, you learn to never say we still don't know exactly what was made, and what is actually out there...and magnificent pieces still turn up from time to time. This is why I love collecting Black Forest clocks.

A collector joined the conversation sharing this clock as proof to their existence!

Since the clock has surfaced it was sent to a well known and respected restorer of rare Black Forest clocks. The clock was dismantled and cleaned, the original large bellows was re-skinned, bringing the call of the owl back to life.

Without question this owl clock is original and untouched, and is shown as it was made in the Black Forest C. 1890-1900.

We are always looking to add Rare or Unusual Black Forest Clocks to our collection. If you have a clock that you think we would be interested in please contact us.

To the untrained eye this clock may look like little more than a novelty clock or a nice shelf cuckoo, but to us it was enough to offer a Emilian Wehrle 9 horn two tune trumpeter clock in a wonderfully carved case in a trade to make this deal happen! We are always willing to "step up" to make a deal happen for a clock we want, as we did with this owl clock.

UPDATE: After posting this Owl Clock to our online Museum, we received an email from a German collector, who claimed to know of another example in a European Collection. This email was followed with 3 photographs of another Owl Clock, proving its existence!

This other example is a wall model in a carved case, decorated with ferns and a eagle on the top of the pediment. It is also powered by a cast brass spring driven movement very similar to our example. This other Owl clock shares the identical Owl and wood pipe inside the clock. It is nice to see another surviving example that shares many of the same components of our example here, most likely made by the same unknown maker.

We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to have this website, and use the internet to connect with other collectors all around the world.

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