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The charter of 1328 gave Kremnica economic and legal privileges, which guaranteed the town’s development and economic prosperity. Apart from the main working activities of mining and coin production, part of the population devoted itself to crafts, which were to some extent dependent on the production of gold and silver. Nonetheless, crafts played an important part in development of the town. In the 15th century, we already find developed organizations of craftsmen-guilds.

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Kremnica had an array of crafts to satisfy the basic needs of the inhabitants of the town. These were the food supply, construction, clothing, metal, wood, and leatherworking crafts. According to a tax roll of the population from 1442-43, most numerous were the butchers and smiths (14), carpenters (12), shoe-makers (10), goldsmiths and tailors (9), bakers (6), masons (4), belt-makers, cart wrights, millers, coopers (3), armoire's and locksmiths (2), while saddling, sword-making, fur-production, belt, making, brewing, joinery, tanning, knife and file-making, glass production, pouch, gun and rope making were represented by one each. Many of these craftsmen were enterprising and well to do, so they got onto the town council. For example, in the 14th century, we already find a tailor, a goldsmith, and a cartwright, and mayors from the 14th and 15th centuries include a goldsmith, cartwright, butcher and joiner. In the 14th century, houses on the town square were owned or inhabited by the so-called 11 "ring burgers," among them goldsmith, carpenter, smith, belt-maker, cooper, tailor, shingle maker, joiner and cartwright.

Only the statutes of the shoe-making journeymen from 1465, the shoe-makers from 1508, the tailors from 1531, the bakers and millers from 1554, the belt-makers from 1571 and the coopers from 1582 are preserved from the 15th and 16th centuries, but we know of other guilds. In 1481, the guild of butchers insisted on written on privileges it had already been granted. Statutes of the smiths are mentioned in 1555, and regulations of a joint guild of stonemasons, builders, and carpenters are mentioned in 1570. The statutes of the furriers were renewed in 1575, and in 1579, the locksmiths, belt-makers, joiners, coppersmiths, tinsmiths, gun-makers, knife-makers, glaziers, and cartwrights formed a joint guild. In 1582, the sources mention a certain Georg as a Kremnica clock-maker,

Eight guilds were formed in the 17th century: the locksmiths in 1610, joiners in 1641, boot-makers in 1650, rope-makers in 1650, clothiers in 1666, button-makers in 1667, hatters in 1697, and in 1689, coopers renewed their guild. In the 16th and 17th centuries, there were about 150 to 200 craft workshops in the town, and by the end of the 18th century about 250.

A list from 1777 mentions 194 craftsmen, active in 43 crafts. The largest groups were the boot makers (29), tailors (20), shoe-makers (15), butchers (12) and cord waivers (10), followed by cloth-makers and potters (9 each), furriers and joiners (7 each), coopers (5), gold-smiths and bakers (4 each), barbers, tanners, smiths, builders, button-makers, rope-makers, weavers (3 each), honey biscuit-makers, chimneysweepers, bell-founders, book-binders, glass-makers, armor makers (2 each), a clock-maker, brewer, glove-maker, tinsmith, cartwright, gun, wig and knife makers, a saddler, comb maker, soap maker, paver, dyer (one of each).

The guilds included three levels of craftsmen: apprentice, journeyman and master. On the first level was the apprentice, who was learning the craft, on the second was the journeyman, who perfected his skill by completing an obligatory study journey and master's year and producing a masterpiece. Then he was recognized as a master and full member of the guild-he had reached the third level. A master, who was elected by the members, headed the guild.

The outward signs of the professional community were the guild symbols, which symbolized the craft. They appeared on objects that formed the prized possessions of every guild, that is the seal, notices, guild flag, shields, drinking vessels used at guild meeting. The most important object was the chest in which the statutes were kept. These were a set of rules, regulating the economic and public life of the guild. The statutes set out the rights and duties of the members. The chest was kept in the house of the guild-master, and its opening indicated the beginning of a meeting.

The centuries of guild-history in Kremnica culminated in the 18th century, in both the quantitative and qualitative senses. However, the 19th century already brought the twilight of the guilds. Many crafts were not able to keep up with industrial production. The guilds being obsolete became a hindrance to the introduction of new technology. In 1872, law abolished them.

The guild-masters, in the case they did not continue entirely with old customs, submitted their written records to the town archives, and when the museum was established in 1890, submitted the symbolic objects as well.

The following crafts existed in Kremnica:

Food production: butchers, bakers, and honey-biscuit-makers
Metalworking: goldsmiths, tinsmiths, clock-makers, smiths, locksmiths, gun-makers, and coppersmiths
Clothing: shoemakers, boot-makers, tailors, hatters, button-makers, and furriers
Textiles: rope-makers, clothiers
Woodworking: cooper, joiners
Leather-working: tanners, belt-makers
Construction: builders and stonemasons
Others: potters.


Reprinted from: The Charm of Old Crafts, PhDr. Ludmila Nemeskurthiova
Published by © National Bank of Slovakia-Museum of Coins and Medals Kremnica 1998
Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 7, No. 2, Summer 1999
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.