Vienna Media News 12/2018 Imperial emporiums
The title Purveyor to the Imperial Court dates back to 1782 and was a distinction bestowed upon merchants deemed worthy of supplying the royal household, thanks to the exceptional quality of their products or services. They were the crème-de-la-crème of the dual monarchy period and were permitted to display the highest coat of arms, the double eagle, on their business premises and use it on their stationery – a powerful advertising tool. At the time of the fall of the monarchy, around 500 businesses in Vienna were holders of this prestigious honorary title.
Permitted to refer to themselves as “k.u.k. Hoflieferant”, these purveyors of fine goods represented just about every sector of the imperial economy from confectionery and instrument-making to book sellers, electricians, jewellers and gentlemen’s outfitters. They preferred to settle in the immediate vicinity of the Hofburg imperial palace, and employed around 2,000 people. Whilst the Imperial Court disappeared long ago, shops bearing the German-language title k.u.k. Hoflieferant can be found throughout the old town to this day, where they endure as an assurance of quality.
As far as exclusive confectionary was concerned, the Habsburgs had several suppliers to choose from, including Hotel Sacher with its legendary Sacher Torte, holder of the imperial warrant Demel with its candied violets so beloved of Empress Elisabeth, and Gerstner which was founded in 1847. The latter’s range features a chocolatey Sisi Torte – an homage to the most illustrious customer in its history.
Augarten Porcelain Manufactory supplied the fine tableware for the imperial banquets. Although the company never had the honour of the official title of k.u.k. Hoflieferant, it is definitely part of this illustrious circle, owned as it was by the imperial family. A large selection of Augarten tableware sets and figures provide a reminder of bygone imperial days, including its Elisabeth service. It was originally commissioned by the imperial family, who required some simple crockery for everyday use. Stylish interior design items from sparkling chandeliers to drinking glass services are J. & L. Lobmeyr’s stock in trade. Luxury picture frames, mirrors and items of furniture are masterfully gilded and restored by Bühlmayer on Michaelerplatz. And Zur Schwäbischen Jungfrau continues to offers exclusive custom textiles including tableware, bed linens and bathrobes to this day.
It goes without saying that the imperial household also called for fine clothing and footwear. In 1816, Johann Scheer opened a shoemakers’ shop in Vienna. His grandson Rudolf’s clientele included prominent names from the court’s inner circle and even Emperor Franz Joseph. In 1878 he became official Court Shoemaker, a title that elevated him to the rank of imperial court purveyor. Today, the seventh generation family-owned business Rudolf Scheer & Söhne is still making luxury handmade ladies’ and gentlemen’s footwear. The much-coveted Am Graben address has been home to the Knize & Comp salon for over a century. In the 19th century, the archdukes of the ruling Habsburg dynasty commissioned the services of the tailors and in 1922 Knize established itself as the first modern international fashion label for gentlemen.
The fabled diamond stars that Empress Elisabeth wore in her hair were provided by Köchert. Today the jeweller makes replicas of its precious stars for its customers, even if they aren’t royalty. Vienna’s first perfumery opened on Graben in the heart of the old town in 1809. J.B. Filz composed and produced an impressive range of creams, soaps, pomades, makeup products and fragrances. The Congress of Vienna in 1814/15 saw business flourish, and the title of purveyor of perfume to the imperial court was granted in 1872. Today in its seventh generation, the store’s excellently preserved interior leaves a lasting impression.
- Sacher Confiserie Vienna, Kärntner Strasse 38, 1010 Vienna, www.sacher.com
- Demel, Former Purveyors of Confectionery to the Imperial Court, Kohlmarkt 14, 1010 Vienna, www.demel.at
- Gerstner K. u. K. Former Purveyors of Confectionery to the Imperial Court, Kärntner Strasse 51, 1010 Vienna, www.gerstner-konditorei.at
- Augarten Flagshipstore, Spiegelgasse 3, 1010 Vienna, www.augarten.com
- J. & L. Lobmeyr, Kärntner Strasse 26, 1010 Vienna, www.lobmeyr.at
- C. Bühlmayer, Michaelerplatz 6, 1010 Vienna, www.buehlmayer.at
- Zur Schwäbischen Jungfrau, Graben 26, 1010 Vienna, www.zsj.at
- Rudolf Scheer & Söhne, Bräunerstrasse 4, 1010 Vienna, www.scheer.at
- Knize, Graben 13, 1010 Vienna, www.knize.at
- A.E. Köchert, Neuer Markt 15, 1010 Vienna, www.koechert.com
- Parfumerie J.B. Filz, Graben 13, 1010 Vienna, www.parfumerie-filz.at
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