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Costumes of the scythe smiths and their wives inherited from the guild tradition, about 1910
Operations management and food master, about 1900
Grinder, about 1900
Young workers
According to factory regulations, women were not employed until around 1895. After that they were mainly used in "equipment" and "packaging". Photo around 1900

The society in times of scythe working in Scharnstein

Sensenmuseum Geyerhammer
Scharnstein, Austria

The Black Counts
The original endeavour to keep the scythe works in family ownership through marriage policies fostered the emergence of large “Hammer Lord” dynasties – in Scharnstein for example the families Hildeprandt, Moser, Pieslinger, Kaltenbrunner, Hierzenberger and others. In the vernacular, the Hammer Lords were known as the "Black Counts" because their lifestyle matched the ones of aristocratic role models.  They had gained considerable prosperity during the 18th and 19th centuries, dwelt in large and tasteful mansions with valuable furniture and wore expensive clothes. But despite their bourgeois lifestyle, they mastered their craft and were faithful to the tradition of the master blacksmiths. On festive occasions, the Hammer Lords and their wives wore particularly magnificent costumes and valuable jewellery. Their outstanding social position was put on display impressively.
The guild system
From the Middle Ages to the 19th century, craftsmen were merged in guilds, as did the scythe forge. In the 17th century there were three scythe guilds in Upper Austria: Kirchdorf-Micheldorf, Freistadt and Mattighofen. The Scharnsteiner scythe forge belonged to the Kirchdorf-Micheldorf guild. The guild was the professional representation to the outside and it settled all internal problems of the members in economic and social point of view. It determined the number of workshops, number of masters, whole sealers/traders and apprentices and allocated the sales areas. Training from apprentice to whole sealers/traders and master was precisely regulated. The guild also took influence on wages, unit prices and production figures. At the top stood the elected guild master. Guild flags, guild signs and costumes of their own were external characteristics.
The working class
The workers in the scythe works operated in small, strictly hierarchical groups. At the top of the 15 to 20 employees per works were the “Essmeister”, the Hammersmith and the “Abrichter”. They formed the scythe - a highly skilled activity that was prestigious and was well paid. As professionals, they were at the top of the rank order. Above all, the “Essmeister” often were independent hammer lords or came from old Scythe smith Families. They didn't feel like workers and were more connected to the management. They supervised subordinate workers, which executed preliminary work, like heating the “Esse” or serving the glowing workpieces. Board and lodging were part of the scythe-workers salary. The job of scythe smiths barely changed over the centuries and always required hard work. Even the strict hierarchic work order remained until the 19th century.