How rare are Swedish Mora Clocks?

The Mora clock is an iconic classic from Sweden, not quite as world-wide famous as Abba, but for those who like the style of these clocks then certainly as if not more enjoyable. Both have stood the test of 'time' for popularity.

The number of Mora clocks made is often quote from Gunnar Pipping who wrote the only book on Swedish clockmakers. He listed the makers of all the Swedish clocks for the past couple of dacades.

Generally clockmakers would 'sign' the face of a Mora clock with their initials and Pipping produced the list of initials and the dates of birth and death of each clockmaker and a bit of history on the clockmaker (for example where he made these Mora clocks).

Pipping is quoted as saying that approximately 50,000 Mora clocks were made in Sweden. Not all of these clocks would be what most people associate with a Mora clock.

So, what do most people mean by a Mora clock?

Typically this means a clock that has a curved waist and hood. Since the waist is curved in then the base and middle of the Mora clock will curved outwards. Combined with a typical rounded hood of the Mora clock then the clock has essentially 3 'curves' (base, middle and hood).

Clocks from the North of Sweden have been characterised as being taller and thinner (ie less curves) and those from the far South can have large bulbous wastes. By contrast those from the Dalarna region of Sweden in general have these necessary curves and count as 'Mora clocks'.

Pipping also estimates that approximately 1,000 Mora clocks were made each year. This does not mean that clocks were made for 50 years. The Mora clock was made for a much longer period of time and it was only at the height of 'production' that 1,000 could have been made each year.

What is clear though is that by the mid 18th century the making of Mora clocks died out. This was because US and German clock movements were imported into Sweden and these were cheaper to buy than the handmade Mora clock.

The Mora clock made in Mora was very much a cottage industry in this rural part of Sweden as was the production of sewing machines, water taps and knives (which is an usual collection of industries). Of these only knife and water tap production survive today from Mora.

The Mora clock mechanism

Like most long case clocks the Mora clock mechanism would run for 8 days before the weights would run to the floor and the clock would stop. The length of time the clock would run for was therefore determined by the height of the clock (the higher the clock the greater the distance the weight would travel - ie would last longer) and the length of cord used. As the space for the cog on which the cord is wound around is limited then thin cord would allow for more cord to be used subject to the general rule that thin cord would be less strong than thicker cord to support the cast iron weights hanging from them.

Therefore the Mora clocks in general, to run for 8 days, needed a certain thickness of cord (to support their weights) and an overall height for the clocks developed (approx. 180cm to 240cm).

The tradition at the time in Sweden was for the family to gather around the clock for its Sunday winding once a week so that the clock marks out the passing time of the household.

Sadly many of these mechanisms have been poorly maintained over the years and there are few that are working.

Buying a Mora clock

The real value of a Mora clock is its unique style and history. Part of that history is the mechanism itself signed some 100 years previously by a Swedish clock-smith.

As a clock it should tell the time. Therefore if you are to invest in a Mora clock then its original mechanism should tell the time ie it should work!

It is these Mora clocks that will hold their value over time and not those were the mechanism has been ripped out and replaced by a Chinese imported plastic battery operated mechanism. The only value these clocks have is in their wooden case.

When looking to purchase a Mora clock check that the style appeals to you and that it has its original working mechanism.

Mora clocks for sale

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