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The Last One of his Trade / Der letzte seines Standes

The Sledmaker


Schlittenbauer Albert Wagner
Schlittenbauer Albert Wagner / Schmiede

His name is Wagener, corresponding to the English name Cartwright, and in fact he is a cartwright for 60 years. His home is located in the bavarian "Oberland" together with his shop. He owns some acres of land and three cows.

The house and the shop were handed down by his father who also was a master cartwright and did not only build tools, farm utility carts and sleds but also carriages. By the end of the 1950ies times had ultimately changed, the cartwright had look for new business. There were still 10 cartwrights in the area in 1970. But only a few years later Albert Wagener was the last one working in his trade.

Officially he is retired now, but some customers won't let him rest. So he will make his last horse drawn sled. Watching, one gets the impression that he never did anything differently. It is amazing to see a big piece of lumber being transformed into a beautiful object. This happens in course strides and in order to make it happen in very little time, any work has to be performed in a perfect sequence of movements, obviously trained over a long time. 

Once all the woodwork is finished the sled is transferred to the blacksmith who makes the fittings and the runners. The blacksmith is 81 years old and also one of the last ones of his trade. Like Albert Wagner he is proficient in the old techniques.

In the meantime Albert Wagener builds some "Good-Friday" rattles, a specialty of his father: "They are like wooden instruments which the kids use to call people to the church service once the church-bells have fallen quiet.


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