I got the following report from Elke Langner . It was written by her grandfather, JOHANN Heinrich Friedrich Scharnberg, but from the point of view of one of his sons, Reinhardt or Walter. He conveys a clear picture of the wheel maker craft and the ways out that the family has looked for and found in a dying profession.

From the 7 generations of the Scharnberg family, which the Trittau parish registers call, no less than 4 have the wheel maker craft exercised. This corresponds to a period of around 150 years. The first time span in which 2 ancestors worked as bike makers to a few decades before 1700 and some afterwards. Henrich Scharpenbarg and his son Hans Henrich Scharenberg, born in 1693, were wheel maker in Trittau. At that time, their craft was highly regarded. There was heavy traffic on the country roads. Tremendous freight wagons carried the loads from one place to another. Construction and repair of these Wagons brought work in abundance. And just the area of Trittau was crossed by 3 main highways: one went from Oldesloe to Lauenburg, the other from Lübeck to Wandsbek and the third from Mölln to Hamburg. An old one is still popularly called today Barn on the Trittauer Heide „Creole stable “. The word comes from Carriol; because the barn that belonged to the inn was at the same time Post office and customs office was used to assist with the wagons and horses take rest and overnight stays. Then often the wheel maker brought in to mend a broken drawbar or rim or to repair any other damage. In addition to the heavy freight wagons you often saw mail and farm wagons on the country roads, and so this rich intercourse brought the craft also rich work and good earnings.

The son and grandson of Hans Henrich Scharenberg turned to other professions, but his great-grandson, my great-grandfather Johann Hinrich Marx Scharnberg, built a wheelwright workshop next to the house he built in Trittau in 1844 and brought the old profession to a new reputation. He had 5 sons and all five became wheel maker. At times they worked together with their father or they were still active in large car factories in Hamburg and Altona, e.g. B. Burnstein's factory, which employed 1,400 workers, and that of Lachs Sons at Gänsemarkt. One of them, my grandfather Johann Jochim Hinrich Scharnberg , traveled all over Germany and worked in Hanover, Groß Oschersleben, Posen and Landsberg a. d. Warta.

But in the next few decades the job opportunities in the wheel maker trade decreased. From 1842 on, more and more railroads came into operation in Germany, which also transported freight and goods. The freight carts gradually disappeared from the streets and the wages of the wheelwright diminished. In hot summers, when the peasants drove their wagons into the village pond to protect the wheels from falling apart, there was still work in abundance; but in winter there were often dull times. Wood was sawn open or my great-grandfather made mass-produced items that were a bit apart from the actual craft. Such utensils were scythe trees, spade handles, fire pits and flails. Dozen of scythe trees and spade sticks went to shops in the neighboring towns, mostly to Bergedorf; the fire boxes were sold at the fairs. They were small, square boxes with holes at the top and lined with sheet metal on the inside. Burning coals were placed in it, and old people warmed their feet on them.

The decline in the industry was due not only to fewer orders, but also to poor pay for the work. So it came about that during these years some emigrated to America in order to find better living conditions there. Four of my great-grandfather's five sons went to Brazil, and another six followed from another family who wanted to work more successfully in the wood industry over there. They all had to work hard; because the hard tropical woods made a lot of effort. Some of those who emigrated came to prosperity and fortune, others died abroad in abject poverty. After two of his brothers had moved away in 1867, my grandfather followed them in 1869. He first found work with the Röhl brothers, in the country's first car factory in Rio de Janeiro, then worked in Pelotas and then joined his two brothers, with whom he worked for years in the small town of Alegrete, 100 German miles inland in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The three Scharnberg brothers and 5 - 6 colored people did all the work that came into question for their profession, both the heavy ox carrettes with the large wheels for the pampas, as well as the joinery and carpentry work for the construction of new houses.

My grandfather returned home in 1878 after a nine-year absence, just in time to take an ax and a saw out of his old father's hand before he died. In 1882 he built a new, larger workshop in Trittau, which became a place of hard work. The heavy hammer blows echoed through the village, with which the spokes made of oak wood were driven into the previously cooked oak hubs, or the humming could be heard from the hub lathe on which the hubs made of oak or elm were rounded. The spoon drills also screeched, driving the holes in the bays and rims.

From the nearby forest, the Hahnheide, the trunks of oak, beech, ash, birch, fir and armor migrated to the workshop for processing. They were cut open with the wide saw. Or maybe the sawmills came from the neighboring village. They built a two meter high scaffolding on which the tree trunk was lifted. Then 2 people saw it up, one below, one standing above, laboriously working into planks and planks.

Journeyman with a wheel and a pull bar
with a wheel
and a pull bar

The working noises from the workshop often attracted curious people who particularly liked to watch a bike being made. First the hub was turned. It was made of elm for the lighter wheels and oak for the heavier ones. Then the holes for the spokes were drilled and chiselled. The oak hubs had to be cooked to soften the wood. The still hot hub went into the wheel stock, and the previously made spokes were hammered into it. A helper had to hold every single spoke with 2 lever bars so that it came to the right angle. When all the spokes were driven in, the rims could be opened. These had previously been sawn from beech or oak wood and provided with holes. After they were pegged and pinned down, they had to be specially cleaned up. This allowed the wheel to come to the blacksmith, who put an iron tire around and tied the hub rings.

The wheel maker workshop primarily supplied the farmer with what he needed: field and milk carts, plows and harrows. But elegant luxury cars with yellow acacia and hickory spokes and curved hickory rims were also made. Sometimes a rick-cart had to be worked for the forest areas. It had two larger wheels with heavy ash spokes. Large wrought iron tongs hung between these wheels. This encircled the trunks, and the wagon dragged them out of the forest to the nearest path. Large numbers of wheelbarrows also came from the wheelwright's workshop; because in those years they were needed in almost every house. Sleighs were also made in winter.

But the wheelwright trade lost more and more of its importance, and the employment opportunities became less and less. Machines emerged which made it possible to manufacture many items more quickly and cheaply, and orders for luxury cars fell away the more automobiles appeared. Yes, many of the work vehicles have even been replaced by trucks. The wheels were also often transformed: the hubs and spokes were made of iron, the rims of rubber. Today the old wheel-making trade has lost much of its former necessity and importance.

Really aware of this new situation, which he partly witnessed and partly foresaw, my grandfather did not want his only son to be a wheel maker, and so my father devoted himself to the teaching profession.

None of those who emigrated to Brazil and their descendants practice the old craft there. Some of the fathers have already changed saddles, and some of their sons are now among the most respected merchants in Porto Alegre. Only one person, the youngest brother of my grandfather, who emigrated in 1877 and worked as a wheel maker, farmer and teacher over there, still reaches for saws and planes at the age of 82. Driven by homesickness and longing for the old job, he tries his hand at work on which he once exercised the strength of his youth.

The workshop in Trittau is still standing today. The heavy spoon drills are still hanging on the walls and the wheelstock and workbench are in their old place. But there is no longer any scion in the Scharnberg family that can awaken them to new life and give the old, venerable craft a new shine.

Tempora mutantur mitunter!

Trittau, January 3, 1943

Here are some original copies from the account books including a version in today's reading, partly also corrected.






These coins were used to pay the bills at the time.

Dreiling copper coin 1787
Dreiling copper coin
Dreiling copper coin 1850
Dreiling copper coin
1 Mark silver coin  1876
1 Mark silver coin
1 Pfennig copper coin 1875
1 Pfennig copper coin
1 Schilling silver coin Hamburg 1759
1 Schilling silver coin
Hamburg 1759
1 Schilling silver coin  Hamb. Courant 1795
1 Schilling silver coin
Hamb. Courant 1795
1 Schilling silver coin Hamb. Courant 1846
1 Schilling silver coin
Hamb. Courant 1846
1 Sechsling silver coin Hamburg 1855
1 Sechsling silver coin
Hamburg 1855
1 Sechsling copper coin Schleswig-Holstein 1851
1 Sechsling copper coin
Schleswig-Holstein 1851
2 Mark silver coin 1888
2 Mark silver coin
5 Mark silver coin 1888
5 Mark silver coin
5 Pfennig copper-nickel coin 1889
5 Pfennig copper-nickel coin
10 Pfennig copper-nickel coin 1876
10 Pfennig copper-nickel coin
20 Mark gold coin 1886
20 Mark gold coin