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THE CUCKOO CLOCK is regarded by some as kitsch, but it’s enduring kitsch.
It’s existed since the 16th century, says the third edition of the Rough Guide to Germany, and began to be made in Germany’s Black Forest in the 1730s.
The site of the earliest workshops were Schönwald near Triberg. “The quality of the craftsmanship and engineering quickly captured the imagination of the European market,” says the guidebook, “and the cuckoo clock has roosted here ever since.”
Triberg, once known as a health resort, is now obsessed with the cuckoo, especially at the bend in the town’s main road as it runs uphill from the Marktplatz, where clock shops are squeezed together.
There’s a bewildering array of choices, but they can be boiled down to three styles, the guidebook advises: the chalet, the hunting theme and the simple carved cuckoo. Those clocks with small pine cones dangling on chains below the cuckoo’s house need daily winding; the ones with larger cones, weekly.
For “a real talking-piece” clock you’ll pay at least €200, but some creations fetch thousands. “The choice is overwhelming [and the] competition keen.”
One shop the guidebook recommends is Uhren-Park at Schonachbach 27, (uhren-park.de), on the main road 2.7 kilometres south of Triberg. It also claims the world’s largest cuckoo clock—which it charges €2 to see.
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