Buy a Cuckoo Clock at an Estate Sale

Buy a Cuckoo Clock at an Estate Sale

If you love the look and sound of cuckoo clocks, then you might want to shop at an estate sale for them. While you can buy one just because you love it, knowing what to look for will help you get the most for your money.

No one knows for sure who made the first cuckoo clocks. While many people point to Franz Anton Ketterer, these clocks were described in literature long before he was even born. One of the oldest descriptions of a cuckoo clock is from 1609, written by Philipp Hainhofer.


Over the years, these clocks were made by a variety of manufacturers. Therefore, shoppers at estate sales should consider the manufacturer. Often there is a sticker on the back of the clock providing this information. If there is no sticker, then open the clock and look for marks on the mechanism.

The most collectible cuckoo clocks come from the Black Forest region. The oldest clocks were made in homes of small-scale artisans. They contain wooden clockworks that are not covered. The next period featured clockworks made of yellow brass. Then, manufacturers returned to wooden parts, but this time they covered them with lacquer.

Aktiengesellschaft für Uhrenfabrikation Lenzkirch made some of the most collectible cuckoo clocks. This company is particularly recognized for making some of the best regulators to come from the early Black Forest region.

Johann Baptist Beha was the first to make self-winding cuckoo clocks. He was also the first one to make cuckoo clocks with music. Many companies including Camerer, Kuss & Co., Morath Brothers and Bohringer. These companies often branded their clocks with their own names.

Emilian Wehrle is recognized as being one of the first people to create a variety of cuckoo clocks. He made clocks calling the hour with the sound of a rooster, trumpet, flute and singing bird.


Most cuckoo clocks have either a mechanical movement or a quartz movement. Those with a mechanical movement are considered more valuable in most cases because of the delicate handwork needed to make and assemble these mechanisms.

One-Day or Eight-Day

Vintage cuckoo clocks need to be wound either each day or every week. Those that require winding every day are considered more collectible.


While most people have a fond memory of hearing a cuckoo clock play, but all cuckoo clocks do not play music. Look for weights shaped like pine cones. If there are two, the cuckoo clock was never intended to play music. Collectors consider those playing music the most valuable.


Examine the case carefully looking for cracks, chips, and dents. Vintage cuckoo clocks were usually made of linden wood which is known for cracking if not properly cared for over time.


The final thing that a buyer of a cuckoo clock at an estate sale should consider is rather the clock still works. Working clocks are considered more valuable. There are specialists in the world who may be able to restore a non-working clock.

Prestige Estate Services Sarasota/Tampa
941-893-3431 or 1-844-EST-SALE