• FA-123603 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-123604 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Agriculture and Forestry
1800 - 1849
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Scythe blade bearing the inscription Ohne Fleiß kein Preis [No sweat, no gain], c 1847


Sharp blades, ‘black counts’: while the manufacture of mowing and cropping implements made some people rich, it made others deaf. Indeed, the loud scythe forges caused lasting hearing damage.

Scythes and similar harvesting machines and croppers such as sickles and hedge shears are used in the many parts of the world. Their differences in appearance are due to the differences in terrain shapes, the nature of the soil, and the type of crops to be reaped, e.g. taut upright cereal crops, heavier prostrate clover, tough steppe grassland, or short soft mountain herbs. In Europe alone a distinction was made between French, Swiss, Austrian, Bohemian, Silesian, Polish, Russian, Walachian, Turkish and Hungarian scythe types.

‘Blue steel’ or ‘Styrian’ scythes experienced a surge in demand around 1600. The main production centres were Micheldorf-Kirchdorf and Freistadt, Waidhofen/Ybbs as well as Knittelfeld and Bruck/Mur. By the mid-17th century 150 to 160 such forges were in operation in Austria, producing up to 70 scythes a day. Scythe works typically consumed 2,500 to 3,000 cubic metres of beech a year, in the form of charcoal. Manufacturing a scythe involved around twenty work stages. First the hammersmiths would make the scythe staves, from which the smithies then forged the blades; the scythes were then finished by the dressers. The blades were then held over the fire and tempered, giving them their distinctive blue hue. They were also given a maker’s mark. Thereafter they were transported in wooden casks that held up to 1,500 scythes.

In the early 19th century Austria’s scythe manufacturing sector was plunged into a deep crisis by war and state bankruptcy. Rival scythe works began to emerge in countries such as Germany and France which had traditionally purchased Austrian products. The situation was compounded by the establishment of a German customs union. Thereafter, the manufacturers secured Russian Poland and Russia as their export markets and set about modernising their production.

Manufacturer: probably Kaspar Moser, Mattighofen

Date of origin: c 1847

Inv.Nr. 39025
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