The locksmith’s workshop in the 16th–18th centuries

The guild system was a system of societies or associations of professionals, such as blacksmiths, locksmiths, brass founders, tailors, and cobblers. In Sweden, the first such guilds were established in the mid-14th century and reached their peak during the busy construction period of the Vasa Renaissance in the 16th century.

Each guild consisted of craftsmen in a specific profession, and the guild monitored the manufacture, quality, and pricing of products. The organization was governed by guild rules. There were three separate membership levels: master craftsman, journeyman and apprentice. The master craftsmen were the only ones allowed to work independently in their profession.

All members started as apprentices, and after a number of years they could advance to journeyman status. Journeymen could become master craftsmen if they created a “masterpiece” that the guild approved as proof of their ability. The guild system was abolished in Sweden in 1846.