When people ask about my clock collection their first comment is, “Do you have a cuckoo clock”. No, I say and their reply typically would be “You should have one!” I often wonder why folks think I should have one. I suppose many collectors have at least one in their collection. Now when they ask I can now say, “of course I do”.

sellers are interested in a sale and do not need to know anything about the clocks past

Thank you, Uncle Dave.

I have acquired most of my clocks at flea markets, auctions, word of mouth etc., even had a few given to me but I know little about their history. The sellers are interested in a sale and do not need to know anything about the clocks past; unfortunate but it is what it is.

On the other hand, I have several clocks which have a very interesting heritage; my Crispi wall clock by Junghans that survived the Halifax Explosion, my Ingraham Huron shelf clock that remained within in the same family for over 80 years or my Canadian Time wall clock by Arthur Pequegnat that hung in a railway station waiting room until 1993.

This is not any old cuckoo clock. This one is especially important……to me at least. This one can actually talk to me. I’ll explain.

My cousin Dave (we called him Uncle) died in 2017and his family knew that he loved his cuckoo clock. Rather than give or sell it to a stranger they decided to hand it over to the family clock guy…..me!  Dave was related through my father’s father and has a cottage next door to ours in the province of Quebec. Dave was a helluva a guy and he would do anything for you. He loved life and cherished it to the end.

From time to time you will find service dates written or stamped inside vintage or antique clock cases. These dates give you an indication of the age of the clock and how well it was cared for over the years

In the early 1970s, he and his wife went to Germany for a tour, returned to Canada and regretted not buying a German cuckoo clock. So, he promptly went to the Cuckoo Clock Shop in Ottawa (our nation’s capital) and bought one. He also wanted it in running order. Over the years whenever it stopped he had it promptly repaired.

Back of clock

he history of an object is a window to its past. This clock is a common 30-hour cuckoo clock made in West Germany in July of 1975 (photo below).) and thousands of these were made and sold all over the world. It has a Regula movement, still made to this day. Regula movements are made by SBS-Feintechnik, and are dated by a letter code. This one has the letter “V” which indicates that it was made in 2007.

German made 30-hour cuckoo clock

The clocks complete service history is recorded on the back panel. When I opened the back access door to inspect the movement and the condition of the bellows I found all the dates when the cock was brought in for repair. From time to time you will find service dates written or stamped inside vintage or antique clock cases. These dates give you an indication of the age of the clock and how well it was cared for over the years.

Detailed service history behind the access panel
  • Oct 10, 1978, clean oil adjust, major repair
  • Sept 22, 1988, CXO (clean and oil) adjusted by “AO”
  • October 30, 1990, new movement, repair by “AO”
  • Jan 1996, 5996 (job #) clean, oil & adjust
  • April 27, 2007, 9869 (job #) new movement and chains

From the service records, I observed that the clock is on its third movement. It is often simpler (and cheaper) to replace the movement in a cuckoo clock rather than to repair it. Attempting to repair a cuckoo clock is very time consuming, frustrating, and costly. In addition, if the entire clock had to be shipped, the case usually incurs extensive damage as it makes its travels. This is the reason most clockmakers no longer accept most cuckoo clocks for repair.

Regula 1-day movements typically cost less than CDN120. The cost of servicing a two-train clock locally is CDN225 and up, so, replacing the movement is a logical decision.

Cuckoo clock bellows on left and right.

I oiled the movement, installed the weights and now it is a lovely little 1-day clock that dutifully cuckoos on the hour.

We have a number of clocks in our summer cottage and my wife and decided that that is where it should hang. Everyone who visits marvels at the sound of the cuckoo clock, it is so distinctive. Now they say, “that’s a nice cuckoo clock, where did you get it?”.

It is not perfect. Sadly at some point in every cuckoo clock’s life, it needs the bellows replaced and these bellows are brittle and in poor condition. A cuckoo clock that does not cuckoo is, well, just another clock! The bellows is a cottage project for next summer.

And yes, provenance is important.