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the clock peddler

NZ's One Stop Clock Shop      

The story behind the name "The Clock Peddler"
The Black Forest in Germany has become synonymous with a number of different products which are known all around the world. For those with a sweet tooth, perhaps Black Forest chocolate or the Black Forest Gateau spring to mind, but to most of us the clocks and particularly cuckoo clocks are the most likely choice.

Originally the Black Forest was inhabited by woodsmen and as the trees were cleared, farmers, who no doubt extended their farms by clearing even more trees. The land was fertile enough, but one major problem every year was what to do over winter. With animals safely tucked up in barns, and the ground covered in snow, farmers literally found time on their hands. Being handy with wood meant that souvenirs and wooden toys were an obvious source of extra income whilst waiting for spring and the big thaw.

One day, about 1640, an enterprising farmer dismantled an iron clock and made a wooden copy of it. Not that he thought wood was better, it was just that he had plenty of it and no access to iron. To his delight, the wooden clock worked perfectly okay. This started quite a flourishing industry. In those days clocks were only found in very wealthy peoples houses. If you could make them cheaper then more and more people could afford to own one. The first clocks were copies of other clocks but gradually a distinctive Black Forest style started to emerge.

clock factory

Scene from a clock factory

Around about 1730 the first clock with a cuckoo appearing on the hour and half hour arrived. The cuckoo was very symbolic, being one of the first signs that spring was arriving and the beleaguered farmers could get back to their traditional pastime of farming. The first cuckoo clocks were rather like a small painting with an inset clock and cuckoo at the top and it wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that the now well-known distinctive style of cuckoo clock evolved. The two common types are the hunting clock with its distinctive stags head, hare and pheasant and the chalet with dancing figures, water-wheel and moving characters. Once the clocks had been completed, they then had to be sold around Europe and this is where our friend the “Clock Peddler” comes into the story.

As soon as the spring weather permitted the original travelling salesman would turn up on foot and collect as many clocks as he could carry on his back in a purpose-built backpack. He was very distinctively dressed with his breeches, waistcoat, jacket and tall hat and he must have been a tough character because he traveled as far as England and Russia, and that’s a long walk with a consignment of clocks on your back.

By 1808 in one part of the Black Forest alone there were 688 clock makers and 582 clock peddlers, so you can imagine how popular these wonderful clocks were.

The clock peddler the clock peddler

Various clocks on display at The Clock Peddler

For further enquiries:
Phone / Fax: +64 7 883 1314
Email: clockman@ihug.co.nz

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