Beginning in the 15th century, going on the road was mandatory training for young men preparing to become master craftsmen. After completing an apprenticeship, a young craftsman could rise to the level of journeyman. With documents certifying him as an official journeyman, he could travel from town to town and learn his chosen craft from masters before returning home to become a master himself. Journeys became unofficial ways of communicating new methods and techniques, as young craftsmen gathered and distributed knowledge learned throughout their travels. These travels also served an important second purpose: they were believed to aid in the development of young craftsmen by exposing them to their surrounding world.
In 1842, Gustav Friedrich Faassen, a glazier trainee, began a three-year trip throughout Germany. His carefully written manuscript is the documentation of that journey, and it includes detailed accounts of his experience and knowledge gained. A log of each city and town visited provides a comprehensive look at the life of a 19th-century journeyman. Along with Faassen’s written text are hand-drawn and watercolor maps, including one that documents his entire journey: beginning in Fürth in northern Bavaria and continuing through Germany, Austria, and Poland.
The beautiful frontispiece is a pencil sketch of Faassen approaching a country inn. Under this sketch, he transcribed a short poem: “Fröhlich und wohlgemuth, wandert das junge Blut; über den Rhein und Belt; Leichten Sinnes durch die Welt.” Concisely translated, the poem describes how the young boy hikes, happily and carefree, over the Rhine River and the Fehmarn Belt (the western part of the Baltic Sea, between the German island of Fehmarn and the Danish island of Lolland; it is mentioned in the German national anthem to define the territory of Germany) and through the world.
For more information on the history of journeymen, see George S. Werner, “Traveling Journeymen in Metternichian South Germany,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, v. 125, no. 3, June 23, 1981, pp. 190–219.
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