A faceless wooden wheel clock from central Europe

Discussion in 'Your Newest Clock Acquisition' started by Jim Duncan, Apr 22, 2020.

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  1. Jim Duncan

    Jim Duncan Registered User
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    I’m seeking help to identify a somewhat uncommon wooden clock that is missing key pieces to complete the picture. The photos tell most of the story. The clock was obtained out of western Germany where the seller bought it some years before as-is from a collector in southern Germany.


    Missing: dial plate, alarm setting system, hand (hour), weights, pendulum, and decorations.
    dovetail internals clean- frt LH.jpg dovetail internals clean- frt RH.jpg dovetail alarm detent.jpg dovetail alarm anchor.jpg

    What encouraged me to collect the clock was the presence of metal teeth on wooden hubbed wheels. Berthold Schaaf, in his book “Holzräderuhren” (Wooden Wheeled Clocks), described how one region of southeastern Germany and western Czech Republic was known for this type of construction.


    Schaaf went on to explain that the iron teeth were intended to prevent the teeth from breaking off where the grain of the wood is weakest. Where the tooth loads were low (motion wheels) they stayed with all-wood teeth.
    iron teeth in wood hubx2.png dovetail wheels after clean.jpg

    Clocks with this kind of gear construction were found in the Fichtelgebirge region of Germany near the Czech border. There were also some ‘schwalbenschwanzuhr’ clocks which had metal teeth in wooden hubs. These swallowtail or dovetail clocks had the overall shape of a dovetail, but the structural joints were not used in them. These clocks were mostly from eastern Germany and western Czech Republic - Bohemian Forest area. They have a resemblance in some cases to American banjo clocks.
    1811 Schwalbenschwanzuhr (color).jpg

    While the clock is missing many parts, the gear train (including alarm wheels) is all there and in fine shape. Note that the alarm hammer system is an anchor escapement driven in reverse. The workmanship of the gears is exceptional.


    The case is unusual in that it is not a posted structure like most German wooden clocks, especially the Black Forest clocks. Instead the plates (top, back, and bottom) are connected with dovetail joints - a sign of good joinery by the makers. Schaaf does not have examples of dovetail joined clocks. I can’t find clock case examples of them anywhere.
    dovetail lower joints.jpg

    I was hoping that collectors more familiar with the clocks of this region might recognize the construction and be able to show me what the missing dial looked like. There are two examples of Fichtelgebirge clocks in Schaaf’s book, but one is a foliot type, and the other a short front pendulum (zappler) type. Neither of which seem to have the iron teeth wheels.
    Fichtel clocks- degauss copy.png

    Sort of a needle-in-a-haystack challenge here.


    Jim
     
    Dave T, Chris Radano and bruce linde like this.
  2. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    Interesting clock, Jim. Sorry I can't help. Especially if you already have Schaaf's Holzraderuhr book.
    Here is a wood movement clock. It was new to me, but later found out it's a late 18th c. Example from Austria:
    Black Forest? Wood wheel movement. Missing strike part.

    Try contacting Aitor, he may recognize your clock.
     
  3. Jim Duncan

    Jim Duncan Registered User
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    Hi Chris - Took me a bit to recall that Aitor is ballistarius, but the PM is away.

    Jim
     
  4. P.Hageman

    P.Hageman Registered User

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    Jim, what a very interesting movement you have there! When I started collecting clocks, the first ones I had where Black Forrest clocks. I still like them, as a matter of fact only quite recently I bought a "holzgespindeltes" 8 day clock. But your movement I have never seen before, I have seen the all wooden wheel clocks but with iron teeth like this is very rare I think. Hope you are getting more information on this one.
    Peter
     
  5. ballistarius

    ballistarius Registered User

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    Hi Jim,
    Many thanks for PMing me on your very interesting movement! Unfortunately, I'm afraid that I share with you my (by far) main source on German area Holzräderuhren, Schaaf's book:cuckoo:
    That said, I'll just dare to say that the dovetailed construction of the backboard, plus no traces of having been sawed off, precludes a beautiful case of the Schwalbeschwanz kind (see the side view on Abb. 78)
    To add a little more confusion to the pot, Austrian Oberösterreichische clocks also employed metallic rims on their wheels (Abb. 120-122, quoted by you)...
    I'd really love to see more pics of your movement. The upper board, the complete backboard... Is that square nut related to a bell support?

    Aitor
     
  6. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    I'd contact Frank Snyder he's an expert in these types of clocks.
     
  7. Jim Duncan

    Jim Duncan Registered User
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    Peter - Have you ever seen Black Forest shield clocks with modern type pinions (leafs in place of trundles)? If so, I wonder what years they were used.

    Aitor - I will add some photos that you requested, and some that add to the mystery of this particular clock. I did not know that the Austrian clockmakers used the metal teeth gears. Were they brass or iron teeth? I did notice that this clock of mine uses large tabs that run in the grooves that hold the movement members - like the Austrian clocks.

    The bell and bell stand were missing. A make-shift bell stand had been made from a picture hanger stud that has a wood thread on one end and a machine thread on the other end. There were 2 leather hex nuts there to hold the bell.

    I found 2 existing holes on the back board for a bell stand with one mounting stud and one small hole for a small hook on the end. With those holes and the travel of the hammer I could work out a bell size. And I had one that was very close, so I put it on until I can find a better one. My bell I think is a stamping, and I think this clock might have used a cast bell, but I can't be sure. dovetail hoop & crutch bef clean.jpg dovetail-top.png dovetail pieces in tin.jpg
    I have to take a photo of this bell system when I get a chance.

    In one photo you will see pieces of the detent levers and escapement pieces that are made from steel or iron. Note the finish on them. I think they are all coated in dipped tin. I was reading about the Fichtel mountain region on Wikipedia when the article mentioned that there was a tin mine and tin manufacturing in the Wunsiedel area. Wunsiedel was where the museum was that Schaaf used for some of his research on these iron teeth clocks.

    Jim
     
  8. P.Hageman

    P.Hageman Registered User

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    Jim, yes I did see them, but only on 8 day clocks and on a later date. These clocks always had steel arbors instead the "holtzgespindeltes" . But I don't think this is a Black Forrest clock, seems way to odd for it. But very interesting!!
     
  9. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    Jim, as usual, like Chris, you guys come up with some interesting clocks.

    Here's a Holzraderuhr. It has a glass dial and glass bells. Duck and I had some discussion on it and he as always, went the extra mile, and sent images to Berthold Schaaf. Here's is the text from the correspondence.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "Greetings Ralph,

    Herr Schaaf has responded 'already yet' with the following message.


    bei der Holzräderuhr handelt es sich allem Anschein nach um den Typ "Deggendorf", der in meinem Buch "HOlzräderuhren" geschildert wird. Sicherlich ist es keine Schwarzwälder HOlzräderuhr. Ungewöhnlich und interessant ist natürlich der Viertelstundenschlag. Ich denke, dass die Uhr um 1770/80 entstanden ist.

    Ich wusste von dieser Uhr, die vor ein oder zwei Wochen versteigert wurde. Ich habe mich letztlich nicht an der Auktion beteiligt, weil mir die Versendung mit Glasschild und zwei Glasglocken zu gewagt erschien und weil es sich nicht um eine Schwarzwälder Holzräderuhr handelt.


    So, to all appearances the wooden-wheel clock (BTW in German the term Holzräderuhr differentiates these earlier clocks from those which later has brass wheels sometimes with partially wood arbors within wood frames) is of the "Deggendorf" type which is illustrated in Schaaf's (1986) volume Holzräderuhren. Unusual and interesting is "naturally" the quarter striking. Schaaf thinks that the clock is from 1770/1780.

    He knew about the clock as it had been auctioned two or three weeks ago. He didn't take part in the auction because he was concerned about dangers to the dial and bells when mailed, and because it's not a Black Forest Holzräderuhr.

    Schaaf discusses these clocks from the Deggendorf/Bayerischer Wald area on pages 52-54 of the volume, with full-page color photos on pages 46f.

    The single pages are too large (ca 10"x11") for my scanner. And if you haven't seen the volume you would like it in any case. Extremely horo-sexy. Our NAWCC Library has it and both lending copies are "in":

    GF 125 Sch 1986 / Barcodes 15801 or 26577).

    Trust this helps!

    Best regard
    Doug"
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BF1.JPG BF2.JPG BF3.JPG bf4.jpg bf6.jpg bf7.jpg bf8.jpg bf9.jpg bf10.jpg

    Ralph
     
  10. ballistarius

    ballistarius Registered User

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    Jim,
    Thanks for the new photos. The more I see from your clock, more alien it results to me! About the iron teeth, I supposed that they were together forming a ring, but now it seems to me that they are individually set into the wooden gears. Is it so?
    A killer clock, Ralph! How much we all miss Doug...:(

    Aitor
     
  11. Jim Duncan

    Jim Duncan Registered User
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    Let me see, I owe some responses and photos.
    First the bell and bell stand that replaced the missing pieces but used existing holes.
    dovetail bell & stand.jpg dovetail alarm whl & hammer.jpg

    Then whether the iron teeth are individual teeth or a "wreath" of teeth as Schaaf describes them. I tried to take close up photos, but it was not so easy. The teeth are very well fit to the hubs and very uniformly spaced.

    On another clock in my collection are wheels with brass teeth rings (see photo) in Flemish clocks. The makers began their designs (1750) with individual teeth (referred to as "staples" in a book about these clocks) of iron in wood hubs. After a period of use there were problems with the teeth, so they evolved to rings which worked well.
    Flem clk hr whl in situ copy.JPG
    I can find no sign on this clock that the teeth were individually mounted. And no signs that there were problems with their design. Does anyone out there have access to an X-ray machine?
    dovetail teeth cls- alarm.jpg dovetail teeth- cls2.jpg dovetail teeth- cls3.jpg

    Ralph - Interesting that you revived knowledge from Schaaf and Stevenson. I, too, miss their experience. Just 4 ft away from this odd clock on my wall is a Deggendorfer. Deggendorf and the Fichtel mountain region are both along the Czech border about 80 miles apart, but one style emphasized artistic features while the other looked more to durability.

    Deggendorfer- frt.jpg Deggendorfer LH si clsd.jpg

    Cheers,
    Jim
     
  12. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    Jan 22, 2002
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    Jim,
    I should have known you would have a Deggendorf. LOL

    Cheers, Ralph
     
  13. Jim Duncan

    Jim Duncan Registered User
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    Collecting inspiration from assorted members with uncommon tastes and adventures.

    Jim
     
  14. Jim Duncan

    Jim Duncan Registered User
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    Dean - The "system" couldn't find Frank Snyder no contact Frank Snyder.png Do you know of any other way to contact him?

    Jim
     
  15. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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