chip boxes – wooden boxes – wooden spoons
For several centuries, Viechtau (Upper Austria) was the center of the production of wooden products such as chip boxes, wooden boxes, wooden cutlery and other aids made of wood for everyday use. The start of production is not known. It is known that mass production took place at the end of the 18th century and well into the 19th century. The goods were distributed by so-called “Kraxntrager”, who brought the products to houses and villages and sold them at markets. Just to get a feel for the importance of this branch of the economy: At the time of Maria Theresa, there are said to have been 11 families of spoon makers who produced 270,000 spoons a year, two thirds of which went abroad (!). Another center of the wooden goods industry was Berchtesgaden. Records show that there were already 150 master craftsmen, 62 journeymen and 17 apprentices in the guild of box makers there in the mid-16th century.
The chipboard boxes are made using a wood splitting technique. The thin, flexible chipboard made of softwood is suitable for round and oval side walls, the base and lid are cut from thin wooden boards. The boxes are very light. They are called box makers or gadel makers, because gadel means box. The large forms were used to store bridal bouquets, traditional costume hoods, silk scarves, toys or artificial flower decorations for cattle for the cattle drive or other special features. Smaller chip boxes were used for valuables, jewelry, mementos, religious souvenirs and other treasures. Small chip boxes with personal contents were also presented as gifts of love. The chip boxes were not painted until the 17th century. The boxes were usually decorated with tendrils and ornaments, often tulips, pomegranates and peacock feather patterns, less often stylized depictions of people and animals, rather fewer colors, but countless individual strokes, especially on the large boxes. Some people made their own chip boxes and filled them with the infant Jesus or the Holy Family, thus saving themselves the expense of a crib.
The Krösendosen are turned and painted cans made of hardwood with a wooden screw cap. It was a gift from the godfather to the baby being baptized. There was room for the baptismal thaler (Krösengeld), medicinal herbs, a small knotted piece of the umbilical cord, consecrated mementos and other treasures.
For a long time, the spoon was the only piece of cutlery. Everyone had their own spoon, which they wiped after a meal and placed in a leather loop on the underside of the table. A spoonrem, as the spoon holders were called, with decorative spoons as a symbol of the rural table community, was part of the bride’s equipment. The individual spoon was a gift of love or part of the bride’s box. Why the spoon came to have this meaning can be deduced from the fact that “to spoon” was understood to mean “to woo someone”. There was never a rem for knife and fork. Religious and humorous scenes, boys, girls, brides and grooms, flowers and sayings adorn the spoons. If there is a name and a year, it was probably a bridal gift. The spoons had a black background and were painted in red and gold. Valuable examples had up to 16 coats of paint to achieve the appropriate shine.