Meeting explores the history of the Black Forest clock

Collecting time becomes an “addictive” pastime for members of local clock collectors club

By Kathy Feist

Jerry Thornsberry’s household probably gets pretty noisy every hour on the hour. 

Thornsberry, a retired superintendent of the Grandview School District, owns 75 vintage clocks in his home. Thornsberry insists his collection is small compared to other clock collectors he knows.

Thornsberry and his fellow collectors are members of the local chapter of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, an international group that collects clocks manufactured prior to 1930. 

William Bond with his favorite traditional Black Forest clock made by Johann Baptist Beha in 1876. Photo by William Bond.

The local chapter is inviting the public to its monthly meeting on Sunday, June 12, at 1:30 pm at St. Peter’s and All Saints Episcopal Church, 100 E Red Bridge Rd. This month’s presentation is about the history and manufacturing of the Black Forest clocks, also known as cuckoo clocks. The meeting usually includes light snacks and members are encouraged to bring a clock from their collection. 

Produced in Germany from 1629 to the 1890s,  Black Forest clocks were intricately carved out of wood to resemble a forest and hunting theme or a chalet with twirling dancers and other moving parts. Every hour and half hour, a bird was designed to pop out to make the signature cuckoo sound.

A Black Forest chalet clock

William Bond, the speaker at the event, says he was drawn to the original Black Forest clocks because of their detail. “The carvings are realistic and look a lot different than cuckoo clocks today,” he says. 

Bond has been collecting Black Forest clocks for the past five years. He currently has 10. 

“I seek out quality rather than quantity,” he says, pointing out that prices can range from $1200 to $10,000.  

Bond, who is an auto mechanic at Jay Wolfe Acura, is adept at fixing clocks and often buys and flips the antiques. He usually finds them online or by meeting other collectors, which is one of the reasons he enjoys the Watch and Clock Collectors club. 

Thornsberry, who is vice president of the local chapter, agrees. “The thrill is in the hunt,” he says. “It’s an addiction.” 

For more information about the club, call Jerry 816-522-6906 or Joe 816-322-6121.


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