ERSTE Stiftung Books

Arbeite, Sammle, Vermehre. Von der ersten Oesterreichischen Spar-Casse zur Erste Bank

This book describes the history of the “Erste Österreichische Spar-Casse” from its foundation in Vienna in 1819 to the major financial institute of today featuring numerous examples of art and pop culture. The section covers not only the history of the company itself but the development of the savings and monetary system in Austria and Central Europe as a whole. It is about the perception of money and the form in which it has circulated over time. Records, documents and other materials reveal how Erste Bank has reacted to these developments throughout the years.


Founded as a savings bank in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt district in 1819, Erste Bank is today one of the largest providers of financial services in Central and South Eastern Europe; it now has a total of more than 16 million customers. The founding idea of the “Erste Österreichische Spar-Casse” was based on the principle of social networking and social responsibility. The purpose of a savings bank is to provide as many people as possible with prosperity and financial security. This principle has remained unchanged over 190 years.

This book tells the unique story of the development of Erste Bank throughout major periods of transition (wars, economic crises, etc.). The main subjects include how monetary capital, and hence saving, became increasingly important for the public, and how, in the 19th century, this gradually heightened the need for people to be able to make provisions for their future with the help of a savings bank. Further influences on the development of Erste Bank were economic and political changes. It took almost half a century until Europe even partially recovered from the two devastating world wars, inflation, the economic crisis and mass unemployment. These developments also had a severe influence on the savings banks and other banks in Austria.

Arbeite, Sammle, Vermehre illustrates the development of the savings bank against the backdrop of these circumstances and gives readers insight into the bank’s identity. The book thus captures the unique history of an Austrian company at the heart of Europe.