Carl Vasquez: ‘Emporia of the pre-eminent tradesmen’, coloured chalk lithograph, c. 1835

Shopping in the Days of Franz Joseph

How the Habsburgs and Their Subjects Did Their Shopping


Whether you were in the exclusive atmosphere of a retailer of luxury goods or in a department store with the very latest decor, Vienna was a good place to go shopping – at least if you had enough money.

‘Viennese taste’ was famous, and this meant, for example, luxury items made by craftsmen. Nineteenth-century Vienna can certainly be seen as a ‘city of consumption’. Even then some social classes displayed traits clearly identifiable as those of our modern consumer society: there was a wide range of goods available, and they were advertised; people deliberately went shopping as a form of leisure activity and entertainment, and there were fashions for things you simply had to have. Of course, the possibilities consumers had to buy things varied considerably: while the Court, the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie could make their purchases from retailers who supplied the Court, the lower social classes bought what they needed from (flea) markets and co-operative societies, where goods were cheaper.

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