History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2018-05-17

Apprentices and Journeymen

Apprentices

When a person began a career as a craftsman it was as an apprentice (lärling) with a master craftsman (mästare). The terms for the training of apprentices, for example the period of apprenticeship, was regulated by the Guild enactments and varied between the different crafts. Only boys were accepted as apprentices and they must not be born out of wedlock. According to the 1720 Guild enactments the apprentices had to be 14 years of age and the apprenticeship was between 3 and 5 years long. The apprentices lived as lodgers at the master's home and they could be used for all sorts of household work. They were also obliged to help the journeymen (gesäll) with different kinds of tasks. The apprentices received little or no payment for the work they did. It also happened that the Master charged the apprentices for the training he gave them, a so-called "lärpenning".

Journeymen

After the training period the apprentices became journeymen. It wasn't until the end of the guild period that the apprentices had to do a qualifying piece of work (gesällprov) to become journeymen. The qualifying piece of work had to be a product within his field of craftsmanship, like a piece of furniture. The product was evaluated by different masters and had to be approved in order for the apprentice to be accepted as a journeyman. In other words, the qualifying piece of work was like an exam. The acceptance as a journeyman followed a ritual initiation ceremony. A proof that the apprentice was a journeyman was the journeyman certificate (gesällbrev). An early term for journeymen (gesäller) was "svenner" in Swedish. The system with journeymen was also a way for the masters to get hold of skilled laborers. The journeymen were almost always unmarried and were lodgers at the masters’ household. It was common that the journeymen went on a journey around the country or abroad to get training with different masters, the so-called "gesällvandringar" (journeyman - journey). By working with different masters the journeymen got skilled within their profession in the best possible way. At the end of the period of guilds it became more common that the journeymen married and had their own homes. However, when the lodging fellowship among the journeymen began to break up, the strong solidarity between the journeymen got weaker. The workdays of the journeymen were controlled by many rules and regulations. If a journeyman was to break any of those rules he could be affronted by the other journeymen. It was considered that the affronted journeyman had lost his status and other journeymen could then refuse to work with him. The journeymen could also affront the master himself if they considered him being offensive to a journeyman. The photo shows a journeyman, 1860s. Photo Hans Högman, 2017. Repslagarmuseet, Gamla Linköping, Sweden.

Masters or Master Craftsmen

A journeyman had to become a master craftsman before he could be his own employer. In order to become a master he had to pass the examination for the master craftsman's diploma/certificate (mästarprov). Master craftsman or just master was the term used for a craftsman with the highest possible craftsmanship. The masters had the right to independently practice their profession and thereby also employ apprentices and journeymen. The master craftsman's diploma (mästarbrev) was a craftsman's proof of being a master craftsman and skilled within his profession. Only master craftsmen approved by the guilds could practice craft professions. As master craftsmen, they could in their turn train journeymen. The craft guild regulations governed the terms for the master craftsmen and varied between the different craft professions. The master had to proof his professional skill via the examination for the master craftsman's diploma. Also other terms could apply, like a certain fortune and personal tools, etc. These regulations were also used by the guilds to limit the competition within a trade. The master craftsman was normally married with his own household. This was more or less a necessity in order to employ apprentices and journeymen. In order to practice his profession the master craftsman also needed to be granted a franchise (burskap) by the city. See "burskap" further down. When the act for freedom of trade was taken in 1846 the demand for examination for the master craftsman's diploma was abolished. There was a possibility for master craftsmen to practice their profession outside the system of guilds according to the so-called "hallordningen" (dry goods legislation) or as a free master (frimästare). By "hallordningen" means an older enactment that regulated the manufacturing of handicraft products and large-scale (factory-scale) production that existed outside the system of guilds. The first "hallordning" in Sweden was issued in 1722. A free master craftsman (frimästare) means a craftsman that had the right to practice his profession outside the system of guilds. There were free master craftsmen as early as the 17th century. Enactments for free master craftsmen were issued in 1719 and 1724. However, they were subjected to harsh opposition from the craftsmen within the system of guilds and the number of free master craftsmen weren't that great. No free master craftsmen were allowed to be appointed after 1731.

The Master Craftsman's Maker’s Mark

The maker’s mark (mästarstämpeln) that the master craftsman did put on all his products was a guarantee for high quality. The cabinet craftsmen had an obligation mark their goods with their master craftsman's mark. For the production of gold, silver and pewter articles it was enough, at least in the beginning, to stamp the articles with the craftsman's mark. It was also common that the masters stamped the articles with their initials instead of the craftsman's mark, sometimes with the addition of the name of the town where the craftsman worked. In the 18th century they also used the initial of the first name plus the surname. It was also common with stamps on copper and brass articles even if the masters weren't obliged to stamp these types of metals. On furniture the masters most often marked the items with their initials. The initials was often handwritten or written on a piece of paper that was glued to the piece of furniture. From the middle of the 1700s they used a special kind of metal stamps which was heated and the mark was burn marked to the piece of furniture. Later they used a so-called "kallstämpel" (cold stamp) where the mark was put on to the furniture with the stamp and a hammer. Beside the master stamps there was also a type of stamps called corporate stamps (korporativa stämplar). They were guild office stamps that were used together with the master marks as a proof that the guild has examined the approved of the product in question. They were foremost used within the furniture and joinery (carpentry) guilds. This type of marks was, for example, used by the Stockholm chair making guild from 1765 and by the Stockholm joinery guild from 1768. Quality marks on items made of precious metals—platinum, gold, silver gold and silver are called hallmarks.

The system of Craft Guilds

The craft guilds were different associations (unions) for craftsmen within a specific craft profession and regulated internal conditions. You could say that they were different trade association and trade unions all in one and had a great power. The guild's power position increased in 1621. A craftsman had to belong to a guild. All practice of crafts/trade outside the system of guilds was forbidden in 1621. The monopoly of the guilds only applied to the cities, not the countryside. The guilds functioned as cartels and were controlling prices, manufacturing processes, quality and crude material. The guilds also had monopoly of appointing new master craftsmen. The first evidence of guilds in Sweden is from 1356 when the tailors in Stockholm got monopoly of its exercise of the profession. There are kept guild regulations from the 15th century. In the beginning there were only developed systems with guilds in Stockholm. Later it spread to the major cities in Sweden. It wasn't until the 18th century the guilds became frequent in all Swedish towns. Within certain guilds there were restrictions regarding the number of journeymen a master could have employed. A master shoemaker (skomakarmästare) for example could only have three journeymen and one apprentice unless not all master shoemakers in the town already had at least on journeyman. A goldsmith could have two journeymen, a butcher one journeyman. The journeymen had the right to serve the master they preferred. The regulations in some guilds also determined the amount of work the journeymen had to do at the most. A shoemaker journeyman, for example, couldn't bark more than one hide every six months and a skin dress journeyman couldn't dress more than 30 skins per year. These facts are from to the guild regulations in use between 1400 and 1600. The guilds were however regarded inefficient from an economical point of view and a hindrance for a natural freedom of trade. During the 18th century, the guilds were increasingly submitted to criticism. However, the system of guilds wasn't abolished until 1846. A complete freedom of trade was introduced in 1864. So, from 1864 anyone could freely practice a craft profession. The system with guilds was already abolished in France in 1791 and the rest of Europe followed during the 19th century. However, even after the abolition of craft guilds in 1846 in Sweden, the master craftsmen continued to train apprentices and journeymen. There was of course, still a great need for professional training of craftsmen. The journeyman title disappeared however, when everyone had the right to practice craft professions in 1864. Craft associations continued even after 1864 to issue journeyman certificates (gesällbrev). Also, the journeys the journeymen (gesällvandring) did to train with other master craftsmen continued but decreased at the turn of the century 1900.

Burskap

There is only one word for town or city in Swedish and that is "stad". The definition of a "stad" in former days was a larger built-up area with the "right" to practice trade and craft professions. A town charter (Stadsrättigheter) or urban character (stadsprivilegier) could only be granted to a town by the king. Normally, a town back then was surrounded by a town wall with a number of guarded gates. In order to bring merchandise into a town, you had to pay a customs duty (tullavgift). This customs duty was introduced in 1622 and wasn't abolished until 1810. The town customs duty was a fee that every one who brought commodities to the city for selling had to pay. In the towns there were a number of customs stations at the town gates where you paid the duty. In Stockholm the names of the customs stations still exists as district names like Norrtull, Roslagstull, Danvikstull, Skanstull och Hornstull (tull = customs). The craftsmen could only practice their professions in towns and cities (stad), not in the countryside.  In order to do so they needed permission from the town, in other words, they had to apply for a "burskap" (franchise). The "burskap" was granted by the town's body of borough administrators (stadens magistrat) via a so-called burbrev (franchise certificate). By receiving "burskap" you also were accepted as a burgher (borgare) in that town with all the privileges that brought. By burghers you mean the craftsmen and tradesmen that lived and worked in towns. Only burghers could become members of the town's administration (council). A subdivision of the Swedish towns into stapelstäder and uppstäder was introduced in the 1610s but the latter type of town's unique position was reduced from 1765. A stapelstad was a town with the right to do trading and shipping with foreign countries and a uppstad was a town that only had the right to do domestic trading and shipping. When the act of freedom of trade (näringsfrihetsförordningen) was introduced in 1846 the burghers right of precedence to practice craft professions and trade was restricted. When Sweden got a new law for local administration (kommunallagarna) in 1862 the burgher's special privileges to the administration of towns were abolished. Also, with the act of freedom of trade in 1864 the need to obtain "burskap" in towns in order to practice a craft profession or trade was completely removed. The burgher's unique position as a privileged group thereby came to an end.

Craftsmen in the Countryside

Trade and craft professions weren't accepted in the countryside, so craftsmen and tradesmen worked in the towns. However, also farmers were occupied with craft, not the least for household purposes but also to a certain amount with trade in the countryside (saluslöjd) - selling woodworks at markets etc. In some areas this was quite substantial. In the 1680s, a few craft profession were allowed to practice their professions on the countryside in some limited extent. This was foremost tailors, smiths/blacksmiths and shoemakers. They were referred to as "socken" craftsmen (socken hantverkare - rural craftsmen) since they were only allowed to work within a socken. A "socken" was an area for local administration, after 1862 called "kommun". It was the socken council (sockenstämman) that appointed the craftsmen that could work as socken craftsmen within the socken. Also the nobility were allowed to employ craftsmen. During the 18th century the different types of craftsmen that could work in the countryside increased. In the act of freedom of trade introduced in 1846, all types of craftsmen were granted the right to settle down and practice their profession in the countryside. The socken craftsmen weren't associated with crafts guilds which were the case with craftsmen in towns and there weren't either any demand for qualifications like the journeymen certificate (gesällbrev). The socken craftsmen were also called "gärningsmän". The tailors and the shoemakers ambulated from farm to farm, where the farmers themselves supplied the material, often from their own production of textiles, hide and leather. The payment was first of all bed and board while the craftsman did his professional job at the farm. The smiths and blacksmiths on the other hand were in greater need of larger tools worked in their smithies. They kept their own supply of raw material and this together with their greater demand of tools and equipment and professional skills meant that they were more like self-employed craftsmen. Therefore they had a higher economical and social status than the other socken craftsmen (rural craftsmen). Thereby the socken smiths/blacksmiths were more close to the guild craftsmen in the towns.

Related Links

Craftsmen's naming custom - Surnames

Source of References

Mästarna och deras gesäller, Stockholm 1400 - 1600,  Dag Lindström Lärling - gesäll - mästare, Lars Edgren, 1987. Nationalencyklopedin Top of page

Swedish / English Dictionary

Apprentices, Journeymen, Master Craftsmen -

Swedish Craft Guilds

xxxxx Swegen xxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2018-05-17

Apprentices and Journeymen

Apprentices

When a person began a career as a craftsman it was as an apprentice (lärling) with a master craftsman (mästare). The terms for the training of apprentices, for example the period of apprenticeship, was regulated by the Guild enactments and varied between the different crafts. Only boys were accepted as apprentices and they must not be born out of wedlock. According to the 1720 Guild enactments the apprentices had to be 14 years of age and the apprenticeship was between 3 and 5 years long. The apprentices lived as lodgers at the master's home and they could be used for all sorts of household work. They were also obliged to help the journeymen (gesäll) with different kinds of tasks. The apprentices received little or no payment for the work they did. It also happened that the Master charged the apprentices for the training he gave them, a so-called "lärpenning".

Journeymen

After the training period the apprentices became journeymen. It wasn't until the end of the guild period that the apprentices had to do a qualifying piece of work (gesällprov) to become journeymen. The qualifying piece of work had to be a product within his field of craftsmanship, like a piece of furniture. The product was evaluated by different masters and had to be approved in order for the apprentice to be accepted as a journeyman. In other words, the qualifying piece of work was like an exam. The acceptance as a journeyman followed a ritual initiation ceremony. A proof that the apprentice was a journeyman was the journeyman certificate (gesällbrev). An early term for journeymen (gesäller) was "svenner" in Swedish. The system with journeymen was also a way for the masters to get hold of skilled laborers. The journeymen were almost always unmarried and were lodgers at the masters’ household. It was common that the journeymen went on a journey around the country or abroad to get training with different masters, the so-called "gesällvandringar" (journeyman - journey). By working with different masters the journeymen got skilled within their profession in the best possible way. At the end of the period of guilds it became more common that the journeymen married and had their own homes. However, when the lodging fellowship among the journeymen began to break up, the strong solidarity between the journeymen got weaker. The workdays of the journeymen were controlled by many rules and regulations. If a journeyman was to break any of those rules he could be affronted by the other journeymen. It was considered that the affronted journeyman had lost his status and other journeymen could then refuse to work with him. The journeymen could also affront the master himself if they considered him being offensive to a journeyman. The photo shows a journeyman, 1860s. Photo Hans Högman, 2017. Repslagarmuseet, Gamla Linköping, Sweden.

Masters or Master Craftsmen

A journeyman had to become a master craftsman before he could be his own employer. In order to become a master he had to pass the examination for the master craftsman's diploma/certificate  (mästarprov). Master craftsman or just master was the term used for a craftsman with the highest possible craftsmanship. The masters had the right to independently practice their profession and thereby also employ apprentices and journeymen. The master craftsman's diploma (mästarbrev) was a craftsman's proof of being a master craftsman and skilled within his profession. Only master craftsmen approved by the guilds could practice craft professions. As master craftsmen, they could in their turn train journeymen. The craft guild regulations governed the terms for the master craftsmen and varied between the different craft professions. The master had to proof his professional skill via the examination for the master craftsman's diploma. Also other terms could apply, like a certain fortune and personal tools, etc. These regulations were also used by the guilds to limit the competition within a trade. The master craftsman was normally married with his own household. This was more or less a necessity in order to employ apprentices and journeymen. In order to practice his profession the master craftsman also needed to be granted a franchise (burskap) by the city. See "burskap" further down. When the act for freedom of trade was taken in 1846 the demand for examination for the master craftsman's diploma was abolished. There was a possibility for master craftsmen to practice their profession outside the system of guilds according to the so-called "hallordningen" (dry goods legislation) or as a free master (frimästare). By "hallordningen" means an older enactment that regulated the manufacturing of handicraft products and large-scale (factory-scale) production that existed outside the system of guilds. The first "hallordning" in Sweden was issued in 1722. A free master craftsman (frimästare) means a craftsman that had the right to practice his profession outside the system of guilds. There were free master craftsmen as early as the 17th century. Enactments for free master craftsmen were issued in 1719 and 1724. However, they were subjected to harsh opposition from the craftsmen within the system of guilds and the number of free master craftsmen weren't that great. No free master craftsmen were allowed to be appointed after 1731.

The Master Craftsman's Maker’s Mark

The maker’s mark (mästarstämpeln) that the master craftsman did put on all his products was a guarantee for high quality. The cabinet craftsmen had an obligation mark their goods with their master craftsman's mark. For the production of gold, silver and pewter articles it was enough, at least in the beginning, to stamp the articles with the craftsman's mark. It was also common that the masters stamped the articles with their initials instead of the craftsman's mark, sometimes with the addition of the name of the town where the craftsman worked. In the 18th century they also used the initial of the first name plus the surname. It was also common with stamps on copper and brass articles even if the masters weren't obliged to stamp these types of metals. On furniture the masters most often marked the items with their initials. The initials was often handwritten or written on a piece of paper that was glued to the piece of furniture. From the middle of the 1700s they used a special kind of metal stamps which was heated and the mark was burn marked to the piece of furniture. Later they used a so-called "kallstämpel" (cold stamp) where the mark was put on to the furniture with the stamp and a hammer. Beside the master stamps there was also a type of stamps called corporate stamps (korporativa stämplar). They were guild office stamps that were used together with the master marks as a proof that the guild has examined the approved of the product in question. They were foremost used within the furniture and joinery (carpentry) guilds. This type of marks was, for example, used by the Stockholm chair making guild from 1765 and by the Stockholm joinery guild from 1768. Quality marks on items made of precious metals—platinum, gold, silver gold and silver are called hallmarks.

The system of Craft Guilds

The craft guilds were different associations (unions) for craftsmen within a specific craft profession and regulated internal conditions. You could say that they were different trade association and trade unions all in one and had a great power. The guild's power position increased in 1621. A craftsman had to belong to a guild. All practice of crafts/trade outside the system of guilds was forbidden in 1621. The monopoly of the guilds only applied to the cities, not the countryside. The guilds functioned as cartels and were controlling prices, manufacturing processes, quality and crude material. The guilds also had monopoly of appointing new master craftsmen. The first evidence of guilds in Sweden is from 1356 when the tailors in Stockholm got monopoly of its exercise of the profession. There are kept guild regulations from the 15th century. In the beginning there were only developed systems with guilds in Stockholm. Later it spread to the major cities in Sweden. It wasn't until the 18th century the guilds became frequent in all Swedish towns. Within certain guilds there were restrictions regarding the number of journeymen a master could have employed. A master shoemaker (skomakarmästare) for example could only have three journeymen and one apprentice unless not all master shoemakers in the town already had at least on journeyman. A goldsmith could have two journeymen, a butcher one journeyman. The journeymen had the right to serve the master they preferred. The regulations in some guilds also determined the amount of work the journeymen had to do at the most. A shoemaker journeyman, for example, couldn't bark more than one hide every six months and a skin dress journeyman couldn't dress more than 30 skins per year. These facts are from to the guild regulations in use between 1400 and 1600. The guilds were however regarded inefficient from an economical point of view and a hindrance for a natural freedom of trade. During the 18th century, the guilds were increasingly submitted to criticism. However, the system of guilds wasn't abolished until 1846. A complete freedom of trade was introduced in 1864. So, from 1864 anyone could freely practice a craft profession. The system with guilds was already abolished in France in 1791 and the rest of Europe followed during the 19th century. However, even after the abolition of craft guilds in 1846 in Sweden, the master craftsmen continued to train apprentices and journeymen. There was of course, still a great need for professional training of craftsmen. The journeyman title disappeared however, when everyone had the right to practice craft professions in 1864. Craft associations continued even after 1864 to issue journeyman certificates (gesällbrev). Also, the journeys the journeymen (gesällvandring) did to train with other master craftsmen continued but decreased at the turn of the century 1900.

Burskap

There is only one word for town or city in Swedish and that is "stad". The definition of a "stad" in former days was a larger built-up area with the "right" to practice trade and craft professions. A town charter (Stadsrättigheter) or urban character (stadsprivilegier) could only be granted to a town by the king. Normally, a town back then was surrounded by a town wall with a number of guarded gates. In order to bring merchandise into a town, you had to pay a customs duty (tullavgift). This customs duty was introduced in 1622 and wasn't abolished until 1810. The town customs duty was a fee that every one who brought commodities to the city for selling had to pay. In the towns there were a number of customs stations at the town gates where you paid the duty. In Stockholm the names of the customs stations still exists as district names like Norrtull, Roslagstull, Danvikstull, Skanstull och Hornstull (tull = customs). The craftsmen could only practice their professions in towns and cities (stad), not in the countryside.  In order to do so they needed permission from the town, in other words, they had to apply for a "burskap" (franchise). The "burskap" was granted by the town's body of borough administrators (stadens magistrat) via a so- called burbrev (franchise certificate). By receiving "burskap" you also were accepted as a burgher (borgare) in that town with all the privileges that brought. By burghers you mean the craftsmen and tradesmen that lived and worked in towns. Only burghers could become members of the town's administration (council). A subdivision of the Swedish towns into stapelstäder and uppstäder was introduced in the 1610s but the latter type of town's unique position was reduced from 1765. A stapelstad was a town with the right to do trading and shipping with foreign countries and a uppstad was a town that only had the right to do domestic trading and shipping. When the act of freedom of trade (näringsfrihetsförordningen) was introduced in 1846 the burghers right of precedence to practice craft professions and trade was restricted. When Sweden got a new law for local administration (kommunallagarna) in 1862 the burgher's special privileges to the administration of towns were abolished. Also, with the act of freedom of trade in 1864 the need to obtain "burskap" in towns in order to practice a craft profession or trade was completely removed. The burgher's unique position as a privileged group thereby came to an end.

Craftsmen in the Countryside

Trade and craft professions weren't accepted in the countryside, so craftsmen and tradesmen worked in the towns. However, also farmers were occupied with craft, not the least for household purposes but also to a certain amount with trade in the countryside (saluslöjd) - selling woodworks at markets etc. In some areas this was quite substantial. In the 1680s, a few craft profession were allowed to practice their professions on the countryside in some limited extent. This was foremost tailors, smiths/blacksmiths and shoemakers. They were referred to as "socken" craftsmen  (socken hantverkare - rural craftsmen) since they were only allowed to work within a socken. A "socken" was an area for local administration, after 1862 called "kommun". It was the socken council (sockenstämman) that appointed the craftsmen that could work as socken craftsmen within the socken. Also the nobility were allowed to employ craftsmen. During the 18th century the different types of craftsmen that could work in the countryside increased. In the act of freedom of trade introduced in 1846, all types of craftsmen were granted the right to settle down and practice their profession in the countryside. The socken craftsmen weren't associated with crafts guilds which were the case with craftsmen in towns and there weren't either any demand for qualifications like the journeymen certificate (gesällbrev). The socken craftsmen were also called "gärningsmän". The tailors and the shoemakers ambulated from farm to farm, where the farmers themselves supplied the material, often from their own production of textiles, hide and leather. The payment was first of all bed and board while the craftsman did his professional job at the farm. The smiths and blacksmiths on the other hand were in greater need of larger tools worked in their smithies. They kept their own supply of raw material and this together with their greater demand of tools and equipment and professional skills meant that they were more like self-employed craftsmen. Therefore they had a higher economical and social status than the other socken craftsmen (rural craftsmen). Thereby the socken smiths/blacksmiths were more close to the guild craftsmen in the towns.

Related Links

Craftsmen's naming custom - Surnames

Source of References

Mästarna och deras gesäller, Stockholm 1400 - 1600,  Dag Lindström Lärling - gesäll - mästare, Lars Edgren, 1987. Nationalencyklopedin Top of page

Swedish / English Dictionary

Apprentices, Journeymen,

Master Craftsmen -

Swedish Craft Guilds