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Sleigh for the transportation of salt

During the first centuries of the existence of mines, small spoil was transferred from the face to the shaft in the basins and reeds; salt rocks and barrels were rolled with the help of walacz rods or pulled on the szlafy (the so-called sanice). The szlafy are mentioned only in 18th century sources; however, given the fact that they have been used on the surface long before the mine was created, it can be assumed that they were used in the Wieliczka salt pits in the Middle Ages.

Strongbox

A safe for storing the salt company’s accounting documents is the heaviest and largest exhibit at the Wieliczka Salt Works Castle and one of its few original items that has been preserved to our times. It was purchased by the Wieliczka Salt Mine Board in January of 1910 in Lviv. The well-known manufacturer put the labels with its name on the safe’s top and close to the internal fixing of the lock: “C. K. Uprzywilejowana pierwsza krajowa Fabryka Kas Ogniotrwałych W. Kosiba & W. Chudzikowski Lwów” (The First Imperial and Royal Authorised National Factory of Fireproof Strongboxes W. Kosiba & W. Chudzikowski, Lviv).

Glass salt shaker by Louis Comfort Tiffany

This Art Nouveau dish, in the form of a bowl with a wavy irregular collar, is a very delicate and fragile object. It was handmade from glass blown on an iron rod, the so-called punty. At the bottom of the salt shaker, there is a grounded star sign visible after the cut off of the punty. Next to it, there are L. C. T. signs indicating the artist.

Salt sculpture “St. Kinga of Poland”

The sculpture was carved in green salt and represents St. Kinga of Poland. The figure stands on a cubic pedestal and is 1.85 m tall (2.4 m including the pedestal). St. Kinga is dressed in a habit consisting of the long tunic girded with a rope with knots to which a rosary is attached, a short coat, covering for the head (for forehead, cheeks and neck) and a veil covering the arms.

Horse-drawn train

The first, and quite numerous, projects of railway transport in the Wieliczka salt mine were designed around the mid-19th century; however, they were never implemented because of the enormous costs of drift reconstruction. Only in 1857 did the board devise the first precise plan for this challenging enterprise and the first works commenced. In 1861 the first metal rails were installed and after that almost all transport in the mine was conducted by wagons with metal boxes or horses pulling platforms.

Halite crystals

A beautifully educated crystal seems to be something almost magical. Its transparent regular form immediately raises suspicion about the intentionality of the “creator”. However, the mystery has been revealed long time ago. Each mineral, including halite, is a crystal.

Painting “Guardian Angel”

The picture was painted with oils on a wooden board. On the background of a landscape with a low horizon, two figures are depicted: a Guardian Angel and a child which he leads by holding its hand.

Painting “St. Kinga praying in the mountains” by Jan Matejko

Normal 0 21 false false false PL X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:Standardowy; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; border:none;}St. Kinga was presented in art in two ways – as a young person in a rich princess’s costume or as an older nun in the Poor Clare habit. Jan Matejko made a deliberate statement of both conventions and portrayed St. Kinga at the age of around 60, in the princess’s robe and with attributes referring to her life at the Poor Clares Monastery (prayer book, crosier, view of the Monastery in Stary Sącz). The model for the character was Countess Katarzyna Adamowa Potocka, known from another portrait painted by Matejko – this time in a contemporary outfit.

Oil mining lamp

The earliest source of confirmation regarding use of oil lamps in the Wieliczka Mine dates back to the beginning of the 16th century, but there are no exact data on the shape and material from which they were made. Probably, two types of oil lamps were used: clay – to be held in the hand or adapted to be placed on a flat surface; and metal – with a hook for carrying and hanging, connected with a container for tallow. The shapes of both types are similar – pear-shaped and vertical.

Wooden cassette with triptych by Józef Mehoffer

This consists of a wooden cassette, iron-shod with brass, with a two-winged hinged lid, a brass shield at the front, with “WIELICZKA” and a crown at the top. It contains a document granting honorary citizenship of the city of Wieliczka to Doctor Kazimierz Junosza-Gałecki.

Concentration of halite crystals

Halite is a mineral from the halides group; its main component is sodium chloride (NaCl). A monomineral rock composed of halite constitutes halite rock salt, commonly known as rock salt. The presented specimen has a historical nature and it comes from the Crystal Grotto in the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Halite crystals on the watering can

A wooden watering can, covered with salt crystals, is undoubtedly an original, but also a typical, object. Many of the objects left by the miners in the mine, especially those that were sunk in brine (salt water), changed their appearance and...

Nativity scene from Wieliczka

A model of a puppet nativity scene, symmetrical, with two storeys and five towers, provided with carrying handles on its sides. The entire structure is made of wood, the base and the upper floor of boards, and the frame from strips of wood. The walls are made of cardboard; the ground floor is covered with red paper with “bricks” painted with black ink and the walls of the upper floor and towers are covered with paper cut-outs in the shape of windows and star ornaments. The floors are separated with a decoration of horizontal, multicoloured stripes with silver teeth on the sides.

Rock salt hair and fibrous salt

White salt hair grows on a light grey marl loam. Salt hair is a very original form of those taken by halite. Fibres – in fact, halite crystals in special conditions – grow in one direction. Sometimes, the density of fibres may favour their crystal clumping. The hair then transforms into a fibrous salt, preserving a specific needle structure.

Halite crystals from Crystal Grottoes

Aggregate, the accumulation of minerals among rocks of different composition and structure, is the dictionary definition of the features of this specimen.

Horn of Salt Diggers Brotherhood of Wieliczka

The horn of Salt Diggers Brotherhood of Wieliczka is a unique Renaissance work of art commemorating the past wealth of Kraków salt mines. It is the only historical object of such preserved in Poland — the genuine horn of an aurochs (the species that became extinct in Poland in the 17th century, the ancestor of cattle), precisely framed in silver embedded in various golden ornaments.

Salt block

The basic method for moulding the salt bed in the Wieliczka mine was to tear it out with the use of iron wedges; the cuboid blocks were then treated and transformed into barrel shapes or a cylinder for trading purposes. Those blocks were the main product of salt mines in the region of Kraków for six centuries — from the second half of the 13...