Na ziemiach polskich, spośród wszystkich korporacji skupiających malarzy, cech krakowski powstał najwcześniej. W jego skład wchodzili też inni rzemieślnicy, jak to zwykle bywało w przypadku stosunkowo nielicznych grup zawodowych. Cech, do którego należeli malarze, powstał przypuszczalnie na początku XV wieku...
The charter of the shoemakers’ guild is laced with a parchment stripe at the bottom. It is a legal document regulating the structure and tasks of this guild in the town of Gorlice. It was drawn up in Latin. The existence of the charter of the shoemakers’ guild in the 2nd half of the 15th century (the year of 1450) showed the high position of the town with a perfectly developing craftsmanship, and — what followed — the functioning of guilds.
Obesłanie of the guild of carpenters in Koszyce depicts an eagle on one side, and the Eye of Providence as well as carpentry tools on the other: a protractor, compass, plane and the inscription: “.Year. 1546 .”
Obesłanie (plate bearing an emblem of a guild) was a characteristic element existing in the organisation of individual guilds. It was a sign used to authenticate the message being conveyed. If a messenger summoning, for example, guild members to a meeting, had an obesłanie with him, it was used to confirm that the message was from the guild master. Without this sign, the information was considered unreliable.
On 30 March 1615, Mikołaj Spytek Ligęza, the heir to Bobrek and Chrzanów, approved the articles of the guild of Chrzanów drapers, establishing, e.g., the rights and duties of the guild members. This charter is stored in the museum collection (just like the charter issued by Andrzej Samuel Dembiński in 1642). The document says, among others, that capmakers, shearers, dyers, hosiers and fullers could also belong to the guild of Chrzanów drapers, as they all used wool in their products, just like drapers did.
Kęty was a well-known handicraft centre. Furriers were also well-known among the many representatives of handicrafts cultivated here. They set up their own guild, which hat makers and tailors later joined. The museum's patron, Aleksander Kłosiński, also came from a furrier family and knew guild customs well. The furrier’s chest was probably made in the first half of the nineteenth century.
One common object which was very useful in the life of a guild was the obesłanie – a sign used to authenticate transferred messages. The Obesłanie was used by a messenger when he had to pass a message from the guild elders to other members of the guild. They were informed of all important issues concerning the guild: meetings, funerals, celebrations and the like, and obesłanie had a similar function to a contemporary membership card.
In the mid-18th century, the coopers’ guild was one of the most important in Wieliczka. There is evidence for this from that era. In 1760, the mayor and the town council of Wieliczka confirmed the previous year’s dispositions determining the order of seats occupied by individual guilds during services in the local church.
The tailors’ guild chest is the oldest guild chest in the collection of the Aleksander Kłosiński Museum in Kęty. Tailors from Kęty set up one of the oldest guilds in town. Also, the oldest surviving charter issued by King Sigismund Augustus in 1558, mentioning the guild chest belonging to them. Unfortunately, the chest from that period has not survived, but a chest somewhat younger, made in 1792, belongs to the museum collection.
Guild maces symbolised the power of guild seniors. They looked like the military maces of the officers back then. The mace consisted of a shaft and a head composed of radially arranged insets called feathers. The exhibit presented here belonged to the Kraków guild of bricklayers, masons and carpenters. It was made of brass, the handle was covered with decorative, gilded metal plates; the feathers with openwork floral decorations were silvered.
Welcome cup was a decorative container for drinking beer in guild inns during important celebrations. Its Polish name wilkom comes from the German greeting willkommen [welcome]. Each newly arrived guest had to empty the cup filled with an alcoholic beverage in honour of the guild. The production of such cups developed in Germany in the 2nd half of the 16th century, and later spread throughout Europe.
The guild chest, often also called “the mother”, was the most important object for the guild brothers. It was connected with the functions it performed. First of all, it was a treasury, in which statutes, books, and other important documents were filed, and money and guild jewels were often hidden in its cleverly hidden secret box. Shoemakers in Kęty were exceptionally dynamic; they sought to conquer the neighbouring markets with their excellent products and succeeded in so doing.
The guild chest was also called the treasury, counter or mother. This one, belonging to the guild of millers and bakers in Kęty, is made of sycamore wood and comes from the beginning of the nineteenth century. In contrast to the other guild chests from Kęty, it is simple in form; neither is there any hidden box nor decorative painting inside. What distinguishes it, are the beautiful fittings that make it appear very impressive.
This guild sign, in the shape of a cross, from the guild of tailors in Kęty, was made in 1912. Such signs were called, among others: obesłania, bieguny, cechy . They served as messages, calling tradesmen belonging to the guild for deliberations. Obviously, the guild brothers were also informed about the funerals and ecclesiastical and secular holidays in which they were obliged to participate.
The guild sign belonging to the butchers in Kęty was used for summoning the craftsmen brothers to meetings and various celebrations. The information provided by carrying such a sign was very important, and it had to be recognised with due care and attention. A messenger walking with the sign — usually the youngest foreman — appeared in a workshop or craftsman’s house and informed the man of the order of the guild elders. If he did not find anyone at home, he would leave a sign written in chalk on the door or table.
The chest is made of oak, with inlaid work made of ash. The inlaid work presents two angels, and between them there is a wooden bathtub (on the lid) and two mallets, callipers, and an axe (on the front wall). There are metal handles on the sides of the chest, and, in the middle, there is a compartment for guild privileges.
As a city founded under the Magdeburg law, Koszyce had favourable conditions for the development of craftsmanship. In addition, the development of craftsmanship was influenced by trade routes passing through Koszyce (the royal trade route and the route to Kiev), the river port in Morsko, a weekly market taking place on Mondays...
The City Council, the mayor and his deputy played a significant role in the development and functioning of the city. The City Council had the right to issue statutes of guilds.
The seal of Koszyce imprinted in green wax, hanging on a parchment belt attached to a document probably issued for coopers in Koszyce. In the stamp field, there is a figure of Saint Stanislaus — another symbol of the town, along with two little baskets.
A welcoming goblet is a cup, often made of tin, which was used to raise solemn toasts by guild members. The opportunity could be, for example, to welcome a craftsman coming from another city to the guild (hence the name of “welcoming goblet” from the German wilkommen — to greet) or a free journeyman (official admission to the masters). The joint celebration of religious ceremonies also ended with a common feast of guild members at the guild's inn.