A Black Forest Clock with Automata: Dumpling Eater Potato Eater Knödelfresser Knopflefresser

Black Forest clocks are so enjoyable to collect because many do so much more then just simply tell the time. One of the most collectible types of Black Forest clocks are examples that have automated features. The Automated clocks are sometimes referred to as “novelty clocks” by collectors) have features that bring figures to life. These clock are a true form of Black Forest folk art, and show the clockmaker’s creativity.

One of the most popular forms of Black Forest automata made in the post 1850 is the Black Forest Dumpling Eater Clock, which is also frequently called a Potato Eater Clock. In German they are known as a Knödelfresser, and a Knoplefresser. These are all terms used to describe the same type of Black Forest automata.

In these examples a figure is seated on the top of the clock. The figure is carved from wood and finely painted. The clocks movement powers the automata that brings the figure to life. The figure is holding in his hands a plate of “dumplings” or “potato”. This automaton will appear to lift a dumpling from his plate with a fork, raise the treat to his mouth, his mouth opens and eyes drop to accept the dumpling… the dumpling will actually pass into his mouth, the arm holding the fork is returned to the plate… the mouth with close and “chew” the dumpling with movement to the eyes during the chewing process. A very realistic and life like display… that brings a wood figure seated on the top of the clock to life.

Below is a short video which shows this clock in auction. After watching it you will see why these clocks are enjoyed by many collectors today. If you are interested in a video of how these clocks work, we did another more detailed video HERE.

We are always looking for examples of Black Forest automata. If you have a Black Forest clock that you feel we would be interested in please contact us through our site.

If you are interested in learning more about Black Forest clocks, our new book, Rare and Unusual Black Forest Clocks, is now available! This book gives the most comprehensive look at the Black Forest clock industry that is available to the English speaking reader.

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