THE CHARM OF
OLD CRAFTS IN KREMNICA
The smiths were one of the most
widespread, important and oldest groups of craftsmen. The smith was an
essential person, both in the town and in the village. Originally they
were the exclusive producers of iron objects-various types of axes,
hammers, pliers, shovels, spades, hoes, saws, ploughs, scythes and
sickles, nails, various pans and kettles, horseshoes, iron parts for
vehicles, armor, knives, swords, gratings, locks and door-knockers. Some
of the smith's activities gradually separated into independent crafts,
producing, for example locks, swords, armor or knives.
The basis of every smith's forge was an
open fireplace with a chimney, leather bellows and forging equipment. Near
the fireplace was an anvil, and on the wall hung different types of plies.
When shaping a forged object, a smith used various types of
hammer-one-handed or two-handed, which he used to beat into shape heavy
objects. He also used additional tools, such as measuring instruments,
augers, metal-shears, etc. The smiths bought iron from scrap dealers, in
rods of varying thickness. They bought charcoal from charcoal burners, to
use as fuel. They needed 6 tones of charcoal to process one tone of iron.
The smiths of Kremnica acquired their
statutes in 1555, and renewed them in 1690. Although they acquired their
statutes relatively late, we assume that the guild already existed in the
15th century. According to the tax roll from 1442-43, 15 smiths worked in
the town. This large number is understandable, because they not only
served the needs of the population, but especially the mines and the mint.
In the 14th century, some already lived in the Town Square, and so were
ring borgers. We also know the names of 3 masters from 1441. The account
book records expenditure on the Castle and town walls. The town paid
Stefan the smith 300 denars for nails for a stockade and 200 denars for
100 arrow heads; Groskopf the smith 300 denars for 350 arrow heads, and
Zigmund the smith 100 denars for 200 hinges, 100 denars for 500 lath nails
and 100 denars for an iron chest.
In 1761, the town council revised all
the guilds existing in the town and their statutes. For example, the
authorities decreed that, apart from the obligation to pay tax, every
newly accepted master should pay for one leather bucket for water, to be
used in the event of fire, and make sure that it did not get lost. It was
also decreed that the smiths had to make carts and other equipment
necessary for the household at reasonable cost. Special attention was
devoted to the journeymen. It was prescribed that a local journeyman had
to make a study tour of two years and an outsider three years. As a
masterís piece, he had to shoe a horse and cover a half-cart. In the
amendments, the question of the nationality of accepted apprentices is
interesting. In previous centuries, they insisted on German nationality,
but now they could accept apprentices without discrimination according to
nationality. In 1777, three smiths and four journeymen worked in the town.
The emblem of their guild featured
working tools and a typical product-a horseshoe, pliers, and hammer. They
chose St. Martin as their patron saint.
BACK TO OLD CRAFTS
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. 4, Winter 1999
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British
Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
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