During Johann’s apprenticeship, a change took place. Until then, construction had been entirely the work of the tradesmen. The profession of architect was just developing; prior to that the master bricklayer or master carpenter had managed the entire affair and coordinated with the patron. Now, the academically trained architect appeared more and more often; he was a distinguished gentleman and kept his distance from the craftsmen. Other details also ushered in the new era: joiners in the workshop no longer made windows and doors with the assistance of a few helpers. Instead, these products were obtained from a large joiner’s workshop that used machines. It was really a factory, criss-crossed by transmission lines; in the factory yard a sawmill screeched as it peeled the veneer sheets off the logs, exhaust pipes emitted billows of steam into the sky with a bang – the operation was no longer part of an artisanal craft but belonged completely to industry. Stucco ornaments, too, were no longer applied by hand; cornices were not put up freehand. Instead the forms were pressed in statuary pasteboard; they came from the factory, and the stucco plasterer attached them to the ceiling and walls with screws. The patterns were in stock at warehouses and picked by the architect from samples. Work became more impersonal all around. Certainly this did not fundamentally interrupt the workflow, but organic activity was replaced by something automatic. Living tradition was replaced by organization, and work methods were thus mechanized. Where, in the past, the carpenter had joined together a garden fence from rods he had planed himself, cast-iron railings were now delivered. The tradesman had nothing to do but mount the parts.
Source: Karl Scheffler, Der junge Tobias. Eine Jugend und ihre Umwelt [The Young Tobias: An Adolescence and its Environs] (1927). New and expanded edition. Wiesbaden, 1946, pp. 190-191.
Original German text reprinted in Gerhard A. Ritter and Jürgen Kocka, eds., Deutsche Sozialgeschichte 1870-1914. Dokumente und Skizzen [German Social History 1870-1914. Documents and Sketches]. 3rd edition. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1982, p. 127.
Translation: Erwin Fink