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Photo of a kitchen-living room, 1928
Geyerhouse, formerly a manor house and the largest workers' residence. In 1910, 103 people were housed here in 21 apartments.
Children of the living parties rented in the Geyerhouse, photo 1909
Gasthaus Hofmühle, around 1925. Center of the social life of the Scharnstein scythe smiths.
After working with the scorching hot food, the cold beer was delicious, around 1900.
Interior view of the "factory consumption" around 1955
New residential building. Residential building built in 1922 as part of the last major expansion phase of the Scharnstein scythe industry.

Social life in times of scythe working in Scharnstein

Sensenmuseum Geyerhammer
Scharnstein, Austria

In connection with the development of the scythe industry a class of industrial bourgeoisie developed in Scharnstein. In addition to the entrepreneurial family, these included the executive employees, who were called "officials" as well as their families. They mostly came from out-of-town and led a middle-class lifestyle. The work apartments for the employees and management were spacious, had a representative living area, bedrooms, rooms for children and servants and already were equipped with bathrooms. Young and unmarried scythe workers received rooms in the "Burschen- oder Madlhaus". Widows of scythe workers found shelter in the "Witwenhaus".
The large labour requirement of the newly built scythe industry – in 1913 the Redtenbacher works numbered 700 employees - could only be achieved through the influx of workers. Since the housing options in Scharnstein were missing, the company adapted several old houses and built new accommodations. In 1910 there were a total of 82 households in the factory apartments, mostly consisting of four to five people, for who also heating materials, soap and towels were provided. Next to the apartments there were company owned laundry rooms, a bathroom, a factory consumption, as well as a canteen. Thanks to the construction of company-owned electric power plants, the factory apartments received electrical connections. A lot of local scythe workers lived in their own “Keuschler” houses and also ran a small agriculture. The social benefits made the living conditions easier and justified low wages. Around 1900 the wages of the Austrian scythe workers lay just above subsistence level and often below. Only about 10 % belonged to the upper working-class and did not constantly have worry about securing their livelihood. The majority of the workers were instructed on the employer’s social benefits and thus lived in dependency, which particularly restricted the workers options in cases of conflict. Social differences were also reflected in the attire and symbolically expressed in language and gestures. For example, the real scythe smiths wore caps at work, the workers who wore a hat to work were considered "peasant blacksmiths", which perhaps only carried on a job in winter. A lot of small farmers worked on the fields in summer and at the scythe work in winter because that was when most work incurred. Most scythes were sold in spring.
The working conditions in the scythe factory were hard and harmful. The noise of the hammers, heat and dust and often more than eleven hours of work put a strain on the health of the workers. Given the small living conditions a lot of illnesses occurred such as tuberculosis, typhoid and diphtheria.