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Social – Nutrition:

The need and poverty of the salt workers is repeatedly emphasized in all dragonflies and ordinances and mitigated by various privileges. The workers were exempt from paying any taxes, fines were not allowed to be imposed and transgressions were only punished by imprisonment in the tower with water and bread. It was also forbidden for the nursing court in Wildenstein to sentence people connected with the salt industry without the knowledge of the officials in Gmunden.


A particularly valuable benefit for the residents of the Kammergut during the warlike times of the time was the exemption from military quarters, which spared them the usually high burden of requisitions that the rest of Upper Austria often had to bear.

In order not to raise wages, which was stubbornly resisted in Vienna, efforts were made to reduce the cost of living for the working population as far as possible, to keep food prices down in every way and to prevent their rise as far as possible in times of rising prices.


In the 17th century, a worker needed around 100 Kreuzer per week for grain, meat, lard, eggs, milk, beets, turnips, cabbage and candles for himself and his family. A miner from Hallstatt, unless he was an Eisenhauer, could cover the absolutely essential food needs for the household with his wages, he had nothing left for clothes, linen and shoes, he was therefore forced and usually also able to earn an extra income woodwork or from the salt makers.


The poverty of the Kammergut population at this time can also be seen from the amount of food, which corresponds to the value of a week's wages then and now.


The worker could/can buy for his weekly wages:

grain (flour)        ……………………………… 41.5kg  1524   …………………………. 348kg 2016

clarified butter  ……………………………….   4.8kg  1524   ………………………….   50kg 2016

beef          ……………………………… 19.3kg  1524   ………………………….   35kg 2016


At the time of the first Reformation Libel around 1524, meat was only twice as expensive as it is today, but bread and fat cost around ten times more.


The Kammergut could not feed itself and, with the exception of fish, had to obtain all important food from abroad. After the grain, it was primarily the meat that was an important goal for the sovereign government to procure adequately and cheaply.

The bread grain was brought cheaply to the Kammergut as return freight on the emptied Salzzillen, because as imperial goods it was exempt from all taxes during transport. The sale of grain was strictly regulated, no official was allowed to trade in it, the sellers, mostly citizens of Gmunden, Ischl, Laufen and Hallstatt, were not allowed to make more profit than 6 Kreuzer per Metzen (62 l) grain.


The Salt Office had to ensure that there was always a sufficient supply of grain stored in the official warehouses. In order to better secure the grain supply of the Salzkammergut, the area between the Traun and the mountains behind Kremsmünster was freed and banned "that nobody from this Hofmark sell grain elsewhere, but bring everything directly to the Gmunden market".


In order to protect the buyers against cheating, standard measures were kept in the court clerk's office and a quarterly inspection was ordered from the merchants "so that the poor workers are not cheated."


The grain purchased by the Salzamt was only given to the imperial servants, the other residents were dependent on the supply of the Gmundner weekly market and on their own purchases.


The beneficiaries always received the grain below the market price and the cost price, which not only strengthened the bond between the crew and the imperial work, but also freed the government from the otherwise indispensable wage increase.


It was particularly important for the salt industry that the grain that had reached the Kammergut was consumed there and not exported across the border again. The strict export bans, mainly aimed at Salzburg, did not receive enough attention for good reasons, nor did they prevent grain smuggling via the Gschütt Pass. There was a lively exchange between Abtenau and Hallstatt early on; the people of Hallstatt needed lard and cheese because they could not keep cattle, whereas the people of Abtenau needed salt and grain. The grain was of great value in mountainous Salzburg and became the subject of a flourishing smuggling trade.


The massive smuggling of grain to Salzburg caused the price of grain to rise at the Gmunden weekly market and made living more expensive, which the Salzamt could not remain indifferent to. It then tackled the smugglers energetically, erected a guard hut and a barrier on the road to Gosau in 1700, prohibited the authorities from issuing passports on their own and increased the monitoring of prohibited trade. However, the smuggling to Salzburg continued; In 1739 the Schwärzers came in gangs to the border and gave bloody battles to the border guards, who had been augmented by the Ischl team.


According to the market regulations newly issued in 1742, grain could only be traded on the open market, but not in inns or in the suburbs. Before the flag was unfurled at the Gmunden weekly market, no one was allowed to buy grain, then it was the turn of the Gmundner, Hallstätter, Laufner, Ischler and Ebenseer, while the people from Wolfgang, St. Gilgner and the other foreign market visitors grain only after the flag had been lowered were allowed to buy.


The grain purchased by the Salzamt was stored in the Gmundner Hofkasten, whose management was assigned to the Hofkastner. Annual sales depended on the number of beneficiaries and increased to an average of 24,000 hundredweight in the 18th century.


The Hofkorn was initially distributed weekly, at the request of the workers, who lost a lot of time doing so, monthly from 1654 onwards.

In 1720 there were a total of 1,910 people who were entitled to farm grain and received around 3/10 Metzen (18.5 l) of grain per week.

In contrast to the official grain management, the purchase and slaughtering of the cattle was left to the local butchers, but the Court Chamber secured a decisive influence on the level of the sales price by granting subsidies, which enabled the butchers to make do with the officially set prices to find.


As coveted as the meat was, it did not become the staple food for the population of the Kammergut. The farm corn accustomed them to the flour diet, to which they could not do without lard as an added fat, which is why it was more important to them than meat. The inner Salzkammergut sourced most of its lard from the Abtenau region, whose inhabitants traded it vigorously in exchange for salt, grain and wine. As long as the court clerk's office was solely responsible for bartering with Abtenau, the workers had no shortage of lard, and soon the citizens of Hallstatt were also involved in this lucrative trade, without taking the needs of the local population into account.


Abtenauer lard also went to Laufen and Ischl, but they were able to cover their need for butter and lard at the Gmundner weekly market, where it was traded freely.


The Salzamtmann, who was also the highest official of the Wildenstein court, had to take care of all branches of the economy in the Kammergut, the brewery in Ort, which supplied the beer for the taverns in Ebensee, he decided on the purchase of wine and forbade it Distilling brandy when there was a shortage of grain. Finally, the Salt Office also had an influence on middle-class trade in favor of the workers


The civil servants, master craftsmen and workers employed in salt boiling have always received as much salt as they needed in the household, free of charge. The miners and woodcutters and then all the other inhabitants of the chamber estate who were in the service of the sovereign joined the boilers to obtain the free salt. The allocation was generous and fully sufficient for the needs of a small farm. According to an approximate calculation, a Kammergut resident in the 17th century received 30 pounds of must salt per head of his family per year, i.e. more than double the actual requirement.


The name "Mußsalz" comes from the recipient's obligation to serve the salt industry in the Kammergut.

Those entitled to Mußsalz, and their number ran into the thousands, usually had nothing better to do with the leftovers that were not used in the household than to sell them, for which the Gmundner weekly market, among other things, offered them a good opportunity. For the longest time, the Salt Office watched this trade, which noticeably affected their own consumption of salt, inactively. It was not until 1706 that the court chamber took up the matter and, much to the resistance of those affected, restricted the purchase of compulsory salt to 12 pounds a year for each family member.


From 1737 onwards there was an annual salt description in all places of the chamber estate, which had to record all beneficiaries and their marital status and was used to calculate the amount of salt to be handed out.


The Salzamt's demand for Hofkorn, which by the middle of the 18th century had about 24,000 Metzen     (1,100 t) in the year, increased significantly in the period that followed.


The reasons for this were the increase in the number of beneficiaries, temporary grain help to non-authorized employees of the salt works, the grain tax to the Hallamt in Aussee and to Salzburg and the supply of the own and foreign military during the war years. In 1815, 72,000 butchers (3,350 tons) of grain were needed.

The permanent procurement of such quantities of grain was associated with considerable difficulties. From 1700 onwards, grain imports from Hungary increasingly covered the needs of the chamber estate. Grain was brought in from Hungary on large salt ships in trains of two or three ships under the direction of the transport office, whose organs also accompanied the trains. A trip from Bratislava to Linz took 26 to 28 days.  

The delivery of the farm grain to the entitled workers took place monthly at the beginning, then every six weeks by a ratification (accounting) in advance; This is because the workers would otherwise have had to wait too long for the grain to be delivered when they started work. When the payment was made, the limit value (purchase price) of the grain received was deducted from the wage.


If an enemy invasion was to be feared, the administrative offices were not only allowed to give the workers their wages and farm grain, but also limito lard for a quarter of a year in advance.


With the onset of warlike complications towards the end of the 18th century, disruptions in trade with Salzburg and Bavaria began. The salt office often did not get any more lard from there and was forced to purchase it within the borders of the empire. In 1785 the shortage of lard in the Kammergut increased to such an extent that the population even boiled linseed oil and tallow.


From 1794 onwards, the Salzamt often purchased lard from Hungary.


The population in the Kammergut had grown so much by the middle of the 18th century that the number of job seekers considerably exceeded the need for workers. To compensate for this imbalance, it was considered necessary in Vienna to restrict marriages. The Salt Office was instructed to no longer issue marriage consents, without which the workers in the imperial service were not allowed to marry.

The market judges were only entitled to issue marriage permits to those parties who did not serve in the salt industry and did not burden the arar with a commission.


Even more precise instructions had been given to the Salt Office for issuing marriage consents to workers.

The marriage could be approved at any time:                                                                                                                  

1. A resident with a dwelling who was in work and enjoying farm grain.                                               

2. A worker without farm grain who was in constant work and owned a estate.                                            

3. Good artisans with enough income to pay for their housing.                                                                      

4. Homeless workers who enjoyed farm corn.

On the other hand, Werkbuben (unskilled workers), Tschanderer (occasional workers), Kufer (coopers) and fittings (lids placed on filled salt vessels) without housing and without funds did not receive marriage licenses. The salt office warned the nursing offices against the indiscriminate granting of marriage consent, the children of such marriages would become beggars or thieves.


A commission of inquiry meeting in 1763 came to the conclusion that the main reason for the frequent violations of the sixth commandment in the Kammergut was the restriction of the freedom to marry, and so it spoke out in favor of the cancellation of the marriage consent.

A court chamber resolution from 1793 clearly states: "There is no ban on marriage, so marriages in the chamber estate, where so many workers are needed, should be encouraged rather than made difficult."   


The creation of their own hearth not only arose from the needs of the married workers, but was also an advantage for the Salt Office, which could only wish for the down-to-earth nature of the staff and which therefore promoted house building where practical. Only the erection of rental houses for third parties, i.e. not for personal use, was forbidden.


In 1797 the Hofkammer recognized the urgent need for more houses in the Kammergut, but they should be built of stone to save wood.

The staff was severely affected by the confiscation of the family grain for all newly married workers ordered by the Court Chamber in 1825. In the case of illness and short holidays, the purchase of the farm grain was not interrupted, but if the holiday exceeded one week, it was reduced by the corresponding quota.


40% of the total consumption of farm grain was family grain. The Hofkammer took measures to curb the increase in grain consumption caused by early working-class marriages.


The authorization provided by the Oberamt to reduce the number of marriages, to issue marriage permits only after the economic situation of the applicant had been checked, was inadmissible under the statutory provisions. However, the Salt Office was free to determine whether and how many married and unmarried workers it wanted to employ.  


In 1848 the Hofkammer lifted all restrictions on the Hofkorn tax, restored the uniform normal tax of 8 Metzen (372 kg) annually for each stable worker and also approved the family grain. Of course, the grain tax now went up by leaps and bounds, according to the compilation it had risen from 1848 to 1849 for the Kammergut without Aussee from 27,000 to 44,200 Metzen (2,055 t).


In order to determine the amount of farm grain to be given to the parties, a grain description was carried out every year, in which the family members entitled to receive it and the changes that had occurred during the past year due to death, provision or leaving the service and due to family growth were recorded.


Grain gathering took place alternately every six and seven weeks eight times a year.


The purchase of grain made the workers dependent on the millers and bakers who were needed to process the grain. Their relationship with them was not always the best, and the worse the price of grain rose, and bread became more expensive as a result. The price of bread was officially regulated and constantly monitored.


In 1848 the Ischl workers ganged up to take violent action against the bakers and millers and thus force a reduction in the price of flour and semolina.


The year 1848 brought the salt workers a notable improvement in the purchase of lard. A permanent worker, depending on his pay grade and category, would churn out 48-60 pounds (27-34 kg) of lard annually. The distribution in the era's lard cellars took place at the same time as that of the farm grain and within the same deadlines, the limit price was deducted from the wages of the workers. Workers with their own farms, which enabled them to keep at least three cows, were excluded from purchasing lard.


It was almost always clarified butter that was handed out, only in exceptional cases, and only as emergency help, were the workers also given pork bacon.

Sources used:

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian salt works from the beginning of the 16th to the middle of the 18th century", Vienna 1932

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian Salt Works from 1750 to the time after the French Wars", Vienna 1934

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian Salt Works from 1818 to the end of the Salt Office in 1850", Vienna 1936

Ischl home club "Bad Ischl home book 2004", Bad Ischl 2004

FX Mannert "Of Ischl and the people of Ischl...", Bad Ischl 2012

FX Mannert "From Ischl and the people of Ischl... 2.0", Bad Ischl 2016

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