Hi all,

As there has been some discussion about the title of a master
craftsman, I’d like to give you a short description of what it
is about here in Germany. The usual way to become a goldsmith is
to get an apprentice to a master goldsmith, time is three and a
half years, during which time you spend 4 days in the workshop
(8 hours) and one to one and a half at school. In school, there
are lessons in drawing, practical goldsmithing, German,
religion, economics, civics, metallurgy, gemmology, maths.
Apprenticeship can start at an age of 15. Wages are very low,
compared to other trades (starting with about $120.00 a month,
in the building trades, they pay up to $1200.00!). For the
examination to become a journeyman, you have to make 2 designs
with drawings, technical drawings, estimation, of which you are
assigned to make one in metal (silver or gold), in another
master’s or the school’s workshop withion 30 hours. A certain
degree of difficulty is expected, but nowhere defined. There is
one day practical examination, all apprentices make the same
piece from a drawing provided in the school’s workshop, written
examinations in the subjects mentioned above (save religion and
PG), and an oral examination (about 20 min). Costs for
examination are paid by your master, for the piece you have to
pay the material and can do it on your master’s time. Having
succeeded, you are now an journeyman goldsmith. There are
schools, too, where you can learn full time without the need for
an apprenticeship. You have to be a journeyman for at least 3
years to start examinations for the title of a master. You have
to pay it all by yourself. The chamber of trade offers courses
in the commercial aspects, (including economics, civics,
book-keeping and so on), pedagogics (together about $1200.00),
theoretics (including metallurgy, gemmology, safety, techniques,
chemistry, mathematics) and drawing (another $1600.00).
Examination fees are about $900.00. Add the costs of material
for the master piece. Again, you have to show the commitee 2
drawings with explicit estimation, the difficulty, of course,
higher. No time limit, you can make it anywhere, with a proctor
who can show up any time. You have a deadline, however. There is
an 8 hour practical exam also, and written examinations on the
mentioned subjects, and the oral one. There are no definite
criteria for the examination of the masterpiece, it’s all up to
the five members of the committee. Usually, it takes 2 years,
studying in the evenings and on weekends, hard times. When you
are through all this, you can proudly call yourself a master
goldsmith. Again, there is the possibility to make it all at a
school full time (same problems as you’ve got in the USA with
these, when I read the thread). You are now enabled to legally
set up a goldsmith’s workshop and to train apprentices (provided
you did not offend laws about youths, and your workshop is
suited to this). Ok, that’ how you can get there. I think It’s up
to you what you make of it. Personally, I see the title of a
master as a challenge to live and work towards, to fulfill the
claims that lie within. One can’t master all aspects of the
trade, not in 4 lives :-), but one has to try to do as much as
possible. Regards, Markus