How did a farmer clockmaker Franz Anton Ketterer in 1730 build a mechanical clock that sounded with a cuckoo call on the hour? Franz Anton Ketterer was the founding father of the Black Forest Cuckoo Clock.
The first known clock dates back to around 3500 BC and were called sundials. A large circular plate was placed on the ground with a long arm protruding from the center of it. The sundial would track the movement of the sun to tell the time of day.
About 1400 BC the Egyptians invented the water clock by pouring water from one container to another container which would cause a dial to move indicating what time of day it was.
The first spring wound powered clock was built about 1500 AD by Peter Henlein in Germany. His new design of clock could be made smaller enabling people to put them on the table or mantle above the fireplace. This type of clock was more accurate in keeping time than any of the previous clocks made.
In 1656 Christian Huygens a Dutch inventor built the first pendulum clock. His clock had a swinging weight or pendulum which became the time keeping element of his clock. To make his clock more accurate he introduced the second hand to go with the minute and hour hand.
In the early 1700's a peddler from the German town of Triberg in the Black Forest region brought back a clock from the land of Bohmen which is now the Czech Republic. This was when the first cuckoo clock was introduced into the region. The clock makers of this region of the Black Forest started building this style of cuckoo clock.
These first cuckoo clocks were very primitive in design with wooden toothed gears and simple stones as weights. A piece of wood called a waag was used as the pendulum above the clock dial which moved back and forth to keep time. All the wood that was used in the cuckoo clock came from the lime tree or linden tree which is in great abundance in the Black Forest region. The lime tree was used for building the cuckoo clock.
Over the long winter months around the German Black Forest region when the farmers were snowed in they made these cuckoo clocks. They produced many different styles of cuckoo clocks, hand crafted with different scenes on the face of the clock. Many of these scenes were from the Black Forest region.
Around the middle of the 1700's history relates two different variations of the Black Forest cuckoo clock origin. The first is by Father Franz Steyres who relates a meeting between two clock peddlers from the town of Furtwangen in the Black Forest region and a Bohemian merchant who sold wooden cuckoo clocks. The two clock peddlers liked the clock and took it back home. The peddlers showed the clock to the clock makers around Furtwangen and they began reproducing this clock.
The next variation is by Father Markus Fidelis Jack who said that the cuckoo clock was invented by a clock maker from Schonwald Germany in the Black Forest region. His name was Franz Anton Ketterer. This clock maker installed a moving bird on a clock that announced the hour with a cuckoo call. He said that Franz Anton Ketterer got the idea of the cuckoo call from the bellows of a church organ. Franz Anton Ketterer designed a system of small bellows and whistles that imitated the cuckoo's call. His clock was composed of an almost square board for the face of the clock and a raised semi circle on top of the board. The cuckoo was located behind a small door in the semi circle.
The last variation by Father Markus Fedelis Jack has become the more popular version of the beginning of the Black Forest cuckoo clock. When people talk about the origin of this clock Franz Anton Ketterer of Schonwald Germany is the founder of the Black Forest cuckoo clock.