Would you step on a personal scale on the street to check your weight? Hardly! But this historical service, which nobody needs anymore, is still available in Vienna. You will see them at tram stops, on markets, historic sites and other public places. The personal scales (Wiener Waagen) are as big as well build man and very heavy, but still sort of invisible. Nevertheless, they are part of the picture of Vienna. There are still people (mainly men) who put 20 cents in the slot and step on the platform.
It is a family business run by the family Popp since the nineteen eighties. The last personal scale produced in Austria was 1978 by the Dutch company Berkel in Vienna. The Popp family took over and invested a lot of energy, time and joy to maintain this piece of technology- and city history. Only they have the monopoly over the 150 personal scales in public places in Vienna and another 250 in other Austrian cities. You can imagine that parties of friends try to discover how many people the scale can carry. But the construction is extremely robust. The Popps produce spare parts by self-constructed machines. They exchanged the breakable glass with a non-breakable acrylic glass.
The very first coin operated vending machines came to Europe from USA in the eighteen-eighties.
The renaissance of the personal scales in Vienna was in the nineteen fifties. They even had mirrors. People from both sexes recognized again the beauty of an elegant body. They were fashion-conscious. Think of the dresses with the slim waists of the ladies at that time!
Today a fully dressed local will hardly put a foot on a public personal scale. Many young visitors of Vienna would not even know what this peace of solid metal is used for. When I explain, they are surprised to hear that in the past people would check their weight publicly. Well, there were no light and elegant personal scales back then.
On my Half Day Walking Tour Vienna or on my Full Day Walking Tour Vienna, we will certainly pass by one of these unique, historical, public personal scales. I am afraid they will NOT exist very long, because as far as I know there is nobody who would take over the business from the Popps when they retire!