Thursday, September 15, 2011

Frank Steinle’s Automatic Wonder Clock

In 1897 Frank Steinle exhibited an automated clock in the pavilion of a summer resort at Johnson’s Island. Frank Steinle was a German immigrant who settled in Sandusky, Ohio, where he worked as a cooper. It took Mr. Steinle twenty five years to build the clock. The two thousand pound mechanical clock was twelve feet tall and ten feet wide. The cabinet was made of oak and walnut.  Mr. Steinle’s daughters stated that he had no plans or diagrams for building the clock, but that he had based it on the Nuremberg clock in Germany. There were five themes on the clock: the races of man, the four periods of life, angels, patriotism, and religion. Figures waved flags on the hour, and angels struck bells on the quarter hour. Dials on the lower half of the clock showed the earth revolving on its axis, the phases of the moon, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the day of the week, as well as the month, year, and season. A pipe organ inside the clock played popular tunes. According to notes in the historical files at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, Ferdinand V. Seibert did art work on the face of the clock. 

Admission was charged to see the clock, which Mr. Steinle clamed was “The Greatest and Handsomest Work of Mechanical Ingenuity of the Present Day.”  After the summer season was over, Steinle dismantled the clock, packed it up, and returned the pieces to Sandusky. In the 1970s the clock, which had been in storage in the former Steinle property on Tiffin Avenue, was re-discovered. Cedar Point acquired the Steinle clock. After repairing and restoring some of the clock’s parts, the Steinle clock was put on display at the Town Hall Museum at Cedar Point. An article about Mr. Steinle’s automatic clock was featured in the August 31, 1973 issue of the Toledo Blade.

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