The story of a community
The lost Levantine property in Yakacık:
Although the Whittall family, to which the Pears family were related (Gertrude Anna Pears (nee Whittall) was the daughter and 5th child of Sir James William Whittall and the sister of William James Harter Whittall who was the 6th child) had 2 country properties in the Alemdağ area, in the hinterland beyond the former borders of Istanbul Asian side, the property in Yakacık is all but forgotten (map). These properties were summer houses, bases for hunting excursions, picnics and escaping the heat of Istanbul summers. The land and property is still known by the locals as İngiliz Köşkü [English chalet] and there are references and information on some Turkish books dealing with the properties of this area, such as the recollections book written by a Turkish editor - Mr. Mahmut Yeşari. Mr Harry E. Pears was a solicitor in Istanbul, like his famous father Sir Edwin Pears (segment of his book), who decided to buy some land near Yakacık village in 1908-9 and his selection of a rocky hill was apparently mocked by the locals at the time. Mr Pears, who was also the manager of one of the first football clubs of Turkey (photo) had a wooden chalet type of house on this hill and planted a range of trees and shrubs around, including pines, magnolia and jacaranda trees. The entire 30 acres of land was transformed to a mini wood that still exists today. The locals mocked this as well, thinking these pine trees would never mature in this locale.
Harry E. Pears married Gertrude Anna Whittall - group photo (1870- 1959) in 1893 and subsequently had 2 children: Lorna Pears in 1894 and in 1902 Mary Gertrude Pears (Molly). The clean air of Yakacık was no doubt a factor in choosing this site. The front garden had a circular ornamental pool and in the rear of the property were tennis courts. In order to afforest this land Mr Pears bought an additional plot of land in Soğancık near Yakacık to grow his saplings and in addition brought in many rare plants to create his estate. During the summer the extended Pears family, that included Whittall members and friends met in this house for picnics in outings, including car rides up to local highest hill of Aydos Tepesi and surrounding ancient ruins, landscape sprinkled in spring with the rare bulb crocus olivieri istanbulensis.
With the outbreak of WWI not only were all entertainments came to an end but going to the summer house became dangerous. Harrys father Edwin Pears had to suffer the indignity of an arrest by the authorities as an enemy alien, though he was released following the intervention of the American Ambassador Henry Morgenthau. Edwin Pears judged the situation not safe so on the 14th December 1914, with his wife he left the country by train from Sirkeci station. Both girls of Harry and Gertrude Pears married officers; Lorna Pears married in 1918 her distant cousin Lt Col George Whittall MC of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (son of Herbert Octavius Whittall and Louisa Maltass). Their only son, Peter George Pears Whittall born 1922 became a Roman Catholic Priest. Mary Gertrude Pears married later in 1939 Lt Colonel Harry Pringle-Pattison MC of the Cameron Highlanders.
With the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1924, Harry Pears could no longer work as a foreign solicitor and like other Levantines decided to move out of Turkey. However before his departure, in 1934 he donated the land and building in Yakacık to the health ministry to be used as a tuberculosis sanatorium (as recorded in the hospital archives). Though the building was used for this purpose during 1935-36, the ministry then passed the property to the transportation ministry who converted the building to a state railways hospital. Harry Pears left Turkey for good in 1935, ending the familys residence in the country for good.
The land comprising 66,620 m2 and hospital building comprising 8,200 m2 passed ownership again, in 2004 to the social security directorate and then in 2005 to the health ministry who converted it to a 100 bed capacity Yakacık children and womens hospital - aerial view:
The wood still flourishes and the house now serves as the store-room for the nearby Yakacık Hospital. My personal dream is for the restoration of this house and its conversion to one of public use, possibly under the name of Harry E. Pears and Gertude Memory House. Similarly I would like to have this fragile wood to be preserved, again possibly with a homage (Pears Yakacık Forest?) to the person who planted it over 100 years ago. I am currently informing local officials and the press to help realise this dream.
Subsequent investigations I have done with this property in early 2013 allowed me to reach an important document, showing Harry E. Pears put up for sale this land and house in 1933/4. This was the time when tuberculosis was widespread in Turkey with few treatment centres / sanatoriums available. A partnership of 3 individuals buys this property with the intention of converting it to a sanatorium. One of the partners was a doctor who was already practicing in the care of tuberculosis patients, Dr İhsan Rıfat Sabar who saw the benefit of the clear mountain air here. The other partner was the important property developer Abdurrahman Naci Demirağ and the former minister for public works (in office 1923-4) Ahmed Muhtar Çilli. The sanatorium was opened in 1936, possibly the first private hospital in Turkey. Dr İhsan Rıfat Sabar rises in the profession to be title a professor doctor and he was amongst the founder members of the Verem Savaş Derneği [Tuberculosis trust]. The partnership fails later, as is revealed in a newspaper (Milliyet) report of 25 December 1954, stating the sanatorium would close by the end of the month. In 1957 the new buyer of the property was the State Railways who re-open it as a sanatorium again. Another document I was able to access was from 1999 connected with the inventory of the land in connection with the privatisation of the hospital, and this included the impressive figure of 3,250 pine trees - the lasting legacy of Harry Pears - on the 66 acres of land on which the hospital occupied 6,000 m2. My investigations on the history of this property are continuing and some of the facts outlined above may have to be amended in time.
Harry Pears was also the person instrumental in getting the idea of an English language newspaper to be published in Allied occupied Constantinople in 1919, named the The Orient News - details:
The Whittall Hans of Eminönü:
The late Sir James William Whittall [view article on his funeral] ran a shipping brokerage, was a Lloyds agent, and was engaged in the import-export trade. Unlike the other Levantine companies active in maritime and trade, the offices were not in Galata [map], but on the opposite shore of the Golden Horn in Eminönü. The Whittalls owned 3 large hans in Eminönü and the most important of these was the Whittall Han situated in Eminönü Hobyar-Sururi Quarter, Aşirefendi Caddesi, on the square plot between Hanımeli Sokak and Köprücü Sokak. This building bordered Kısmet Han.
The second Han belonging to the James Whittall was also known as Whittall Han and was in Eminönü Alalemci Quarter, on Yeni Postahane Caddesi on the plot bordered by Yeni Postahane Yan Sokak and Findıkçı Remzi Sokak. On Yeni Postahe Sokak, next to Whittall Han was Alalemci and along Yeni Postahane Caddesi past Whittall Han were Ananiodi and then Xantopulo Hans.
The third han belonging to the James Whittall was again in Eminönü on Tahtakale Deveoğlu Yokuşu, on the plot bordered by Paçacı Sokak, Kantarcılar Caddesi and Karesi Caddesi on parcel number 120. This han was used as a warehouse and next to this building were Kondakçı Han and Demirtaş Han.
1941 Pervititch Fire Insurance maps of Eminönü showing locations of the Whittall Hans: Hobyar and Sururi quarter - (to the NW of the no: 30 parcel), neighbouring Hobyar and Celebioğlu quarter (towards the bottom left of the map, under parcel no: 23) and Eminönü Tahtakale quarter (towards the central top, Whittall Ardiyesi).
The activities in trade and shipping of Levantines in Istanbul
Todays Beyoğlu, known in the past as Pera, was the epicentre of the Levantine and foreign community in the former capital city of the Ottoman Empire. This cultural metropolis was also the home of several foreign newspapers such as The Levant Herald & Eastern Express which allow researchers to trace the various events and activities connected with the Levantines, from celebrations with the inauguration Abdülhamid II to the comings and goings of the various ships.
Looking closer at the article dealing with the celebrations in Pera on the occasion of the enthronement of Abdülhamid II penned in The Levant Herald & Eastern Express these details emerge: These buildings with their illuminations created a striking site in Pera: the court photographers Abdullah Freres, the Sébah and Kargopulo photo ateliers, the house of Koumbari Effendi, the Boudy apartments, Verdouz shops, the house of Elias Pasha, the Swedish and Norwegian middle consulate buildings, the Palma house, Teutonia [the German club], the firms of the Zellich brothers, the Lebon patisserie and the Bourdon restaurant, the Oriental Bazaar, the Vienna beer-hall and the Anatolian Railways building. In addition, the Dutch Embassy, the Bailly shop, the German Bazaar, the Bon Marché shop which had been illuminated in a dazzling way on two facades, Anghelides Brothers and the Demilleville shops, Trade Coffee-house, Corcordia café, the Nicoli beer-hall, Belle-vue, Sponek, Papadopoulo and Hotel London, the Canzuch Pharmacy, Au Camélia department store and La Cité de Pera being arrestingly lit, the New Theatre, highly effectively illuminated Parisian Patisserie, the house of Dr. Dikran Pasha, the house of Stavraki Efendi, La Couronne Hotel, the branch of the Regie [monopoly] commission, the Scefelder house, the shops of Chavin, Mir and Cotterau, Club dOrient, della Suda Pharmacy, the Armenian Catholic Church at Sakızağacı, the Italian Consulate, the Pera telegraph bureau, Alexandre Pangiri Efendi, the houses of General Von Hofe and those of Scechenyi Pasha and Lecoq Pasha, the entrance facade of the Galatasaray Sultans School, the department stores of Pygmalion and Della-Mea, the house of Grati Efendi, the hotel Angleterre at Aynalı Çesme, Zaption [Greek] Schools, Taksim Police Station, the Armenian Girls school, the photographic studio of M. Andriomenos, the house of the court painter Luigi Acquarone on Suterazisi Sokak, the Lazarro Franco shop and many more.
Further, the Tünel building, the Baudin book-shop, Victor Tiring Brothers, the shops of Burguy, Decugis and A. Vidovitch, Elias Pasha, the houses of the adviser in the Ottoman Army Henry Wood Pasha and Emile Lacoine Efendi, the Hotel Pesth, the book-shops of Weiss and Ottom Keil, the corner-shop of Dimitracopoulo brothers, the Strassburg beerhall, the jewellery shop of M. Saury and partners, all with their decorations and lighting converted Pera to a tableau of joyous celebration.
The Zellich book-store was also an arm of its printing activities, based in Yazıcı Sokak. It was this firm that in 1902 printed the constitution of the Chambre Maritime des Compagnies de Navigation Étrangères Constantinople [Chamber of foreign navigation and maritime companies of Constantinople].
Pera as opposed to Galata was where the agencies of the steamship companies had their offices. This quarter was also where there were French and Italian Theatres, cafes such as Lebon, famous shops such as Grombach, Demilleville, La Tricoteuse, Mir stocking all the latest luxury goods and furnishings at the same time as they would appear in European capitals. This Levantine / foreign mixture of print-shops, newspapers, publishing-houses, lawyers, doctors surgeries, commercial offices would all be concentrated in Pera and neighbouring Galata.
The buildings of Pera reflected this Levantine opulence and in the businesses operating from these, be they hotels, restaurants, cafes, would employ staff who would out of necessity be multi-lingual in addition to Turkish. Galata being near the docks has a properderance of hans mostly built in the second half of the 19th century. As examples of these buildings, on Rıhtım Caddesi Hovagimyan Han, on the corner of Şarap İskelesi Sokak Couteaux Han owned by the Gabiel Couteaux Shipping Agency, Frank han, Lloyd Han, referred to in the regional press at the time. For example in 13 October 1892 edition of Le Moniteur dOriental, there is mention that a waiting room had been installed in Lloyd Han on Rıhtım Caddesi for passengers use. Lloyd Han, like its neighbour the Customs House, is still in a partly ruinous state because of past earth-quakes and the information I have is there are plans to renovate it in the future.
The shipping agencies operated in Galata were concentrated in Rıhtım Caddesi, Kemankeş Kara Mustafa Paşa Sokak, Sivastopol Sokak, Kemeraltı Caddesi, Tophane İskelesi Sokak and the buildings are Ömer Abed Han, Merkez Rıhtım Han, Çinili Rıhtım Han, on Sarap İskelesi Sokak Ticaret Han, Hovagimyan Han (for a time Sönmez Denizcilik Han), Veli Alemdar Han, Cité Française, units within Passage Lloyd, on the streets between Voyvoda Caddesi and Rıhtım Caddesi Boston Han, Kamondo Han, Bereketzade Han. Across the Golden Horn in Sirkeci were just Sansaryan Han and the hans operated by the Whittalls.
The shipping agents were an integral part of the whole maritime business and had agencies in all the major ports of the Ottoman Empire from Trabzon to Alexandria and were almost exclusively Levantine, Europeans who were long-term residents in the Empire. In time the role and influence of Greek agents in this trade increased in proportion to their increased maritime trade activities.
The 28 Membres Fondateurs of the Chambre Maritime des Compagnies de Navigation Étrangeres Constantinople is revealing in terms of the nationalities of the big players in this trade: eight were British, five Greek, three Russian, three French, two German, one each of Bulgarian, Hungarian, Austrian, Italian, Dutch, Belgian, Romanian flagged shipping companies.
The name of the shipping companies on this founding list are as follows: the Bulgarian Sociètè Commerciale Bulgare de Navigation à Vapeur, agent: A. Pironcoff; the British Cunard S. S.Cy, agent: Walter Seager & Joly; the German Deutsche Levante Linie, agent: Agelasto, Sfezzo & Co. The British Ellerman Line, agent: James La Fontaine; the Russian Folette Volontaire Russe, agent: Bodgan De Jugovich; the French Fraissant & Co., agent: Georges Schrimpf; the Hungarian Levant Line, agent: S. & W. Hoffmann; the British Johnson Line, agent: Thèodoridi & Co.; the British Khedivial Mail Line, agent: Alfred C. Silley; the Greek Sociètè de Navigation à Vapeur le Levant (Anatolie), agent: M. Issaakides; the Austrian Compagnies de Navigation à Vapeur de Lloyd Autrchien, agent: A. Foresti; the Anglo-Greek John Mac Dowall & Barbour, agent: M. Coumaki; the Russian Cie Messageries, the Marmara agent: A. Kanavaloff; the French Cie des Messageries Maritimes, agent: Chales Dechaud; the British Moss S.S.Cy., agent: J. W.Whittall & Co.; the Italian Navigazione Generale Italiana (Sta Rte Florio & Rubattino), agent: E.C. Bartoro; the Dutch Cie Royale Nèerlandiase, agent: Foscolo Mango & Co.; the German Hamburg-America Line, agent: Foscolo Mango & Co.; the Greek Nouvelle Sociètè de Navigation de Syra (Nea hellenike), agent: Theo N. C; the Greek Cie de Navigation à Vapeur Panhèllenique, agent: M. Barouna; the Greek Compagnies Oriantale P. Pantalèon, agent: G. Danezi; the British Papayani Lines, agent: Doros Brothers; the French N. Paquet & C., agent: Timothee Reboul; the Belgian A. Deppe, agent: Timothee Reboul; the Romanian Service Maritime Roumain, agent: A. Seymery; the Russian Cie Russe de Navigation à Vapeur et de Commerce, agent: A. Tchaikowsky; the British Wescott & Laurence Line, agent: Gilchrist Walker & Co.; the British Wilson Line, agent: F. Heald & Rizzo; the Dutch Det Forenede Dampskibsselskab, agent: C.J. Reppen & Co.
Further information on these shipping companies is gleaned from the Istanbul published daily The Levant Herald and Eastern Express and in a 1906 edition this listing is visible:
- Agalesto Sferro & Co.- Deutsche Levant Linie maritime company agency,
Mehmet Ali Paşa Han, No. 41-42.
The oldest photograph in the archives of Chambre Maritime des Compagnies de Navigation Étrangeres Constantinople is from 1906, taken during their executive committee meeting and according to the records the persons in this meeting were: P. Lampros, A. Silley, E. Barbours, C. Decha, W. Petche, J. Seymiri, Timothee Reboul, N. Aperguis, B. Ardunas, L. Tourter, C. Noykoff, James W. Whittall, W. Seager [further info], R. Lindemann, Thèodoridi, G. Schrimph, Thedore Reppen, Bodgan De Jugovich, F. Rizzo, Lourent Reboul, G. Doros, Dimitri Mango, James La Fontaine and Theo C. Curmusi.
These foreign shipping companies active in the latter years of the Ottoman Empire created on 6th November 1902 their own chamber under the title: Chambre Maritime des Compagnies de Navigation Etrangères Constantinople with their constitution written in French with an Ottoman Turkish translation titled: Ecnebi Seyr-i Sefain Kumpanyalari Dersaadet Bahriye Odasi Nizamnamesi encompassing 9 articles with an officiating stamp on its back. The purpose of this chamber was to deal with problems between the players, and between them and the authorities, and try to deal with issues in a friendly way as an honest broker.
The third article in their constitution read: Foreign shipping companies whose vessels call on the port of Istanbul may join the Maritime Chamber and the decision of registration or admittance into the chamber would be given by the committee of the Chamber. The fourth article of the constitution of the chamber stated that the executive committee comprised ten people and their term of office was 1 year long. The executive committee was chosen by the general committee and the following qualification was declared: No distinction for the prospective applicants is done, regardless of nationality or citizenship. Members may be re-elected. The general committee convenes with the participation of all members on an annual basis in November. For an election to happen one extra person to the membership total is sufficient. The committee is selected through secret ballot and with an absolute majority.
In the first election of 1902, that was run in accordance to the constitution, a ten man committee was selected from the 28 founder members and M. Charles Déchaud was elected to the first president. Thus the following other selected first committee were: the vice-presidents M. Barboro and M. Petcheneff, secretary M. J. AL. Seynery; the accountant M. A. C. Silley; members: Baron de Bucovic, M. A. C. Sfezzo, Dimitri A. Mango, Spas. Antonoff, Timothee Reboul and Theo. N. Curmuzi.
The Istanbul Foreign Shipping Companies Maritime Chamber after its establishment in 1902, changed its name and constitution four times, in 1927, 1939, 1968 and 1973.
The first amendment of the constitution took place in 1926 with the enactment of the new republics civil law code and the need to harmonise the statute books of organisations. With the enactment on 29th April 1926 of the 815 numbered law of Türkiye Sahillerinde Nakliyat-ı Bahriye (Kabotaj) ve Limanlarla Karasuları Dahilinde İcrayi Sanat ve Ticaret Hakkında Kanun [Maritime law of transportation within Turkish territorial waters] a new chapter was opened in Turkish naval transportation. The rights for conveyance was given solely to Turkish flagged ships. Foreign ships could no longer transport goods or people between Turkish ports. The Turkish state would take over the running of ports and docks that had previously been granted to the French and other foreign companies [documentary example].
As part of this re-organisation of the Foreign Ship Companies Maritime Chamber a letter was submitted to the Istanbul provincial governors office on the 26th March 1927, enclosing the nine statutes and the listing of founder members. With the publication in the Istanbul provincial governors official paper of the chamber foundation notice on 27 November 1927, issue no 218, some of the founder members resigned from the Chamber.
According to the official record document, book no 315, section 218, of the governors office the following names are shown as the founders: President Laurent Reboul, vice-president Walter Seager and Domenico D. Brazzafolli, general secretary A. Hayri Araboğlu, cashier Konstantin Siskides, members: Kuişento, Fonzi Cruciani, Dimitri Mango, Mihail Fole, Reginald La Fontaine Whittall and Josef Silbermann. The enactment of this regulation took place on 1st May 1927 and the interesting fact is that the name of the Chamber was to be Dersaadet Şambir Maritime dö Campani de Navigasyon Etranger Cemiyeti once again. This status was announced on the 15th January 1927 in the provincial governors paper on the bottom section of the third page. Following this publication the Chamber published through the Zellich Brothers print company the nine clauses and the listing of the 30 members in French and Ottoman script Turkish in 1928. Finally the Chamber did an official submission to the Istanbul Police Department on 12th January 1928, declaring with its earlier approval of the governors office the listing of its new committee. The meeting place of the Chamber was in Galata, within the location of Levant French Bank, the office of Laurent Reboul and partners at the Mehmet Ali Han, no: 54, with its phone number of Pera 3294.
M. Charles Dèchaud was president for ten years till 1912. in the vote of 1912 Timothee Reboul was elected president and owing to the fact the Balkan and later the First World War overlapped his term, he was in office till 1919.
Levantine Chambers of Commerce in the Ottoman Empire
The United States was active in trade across the Levant under the umbrella of American Chamber of Commerce for the Levant.
- Victor Algrenti, at Sirkeci, Yeni Han.
The local trade gazettes published in English, French and Italian were full of adverts of these shipping agencies. One of these was the Italian Levantine family who used the family name for their company, C & G Vuccino who were agents for steam cargo ships, with their centre in Istanbul and operating to the Black Sea, Danube and the Eastern Mediterranean ports, and their address was Gité Français, floor 2, Galata, phone: Pera 2047.
The Foscolo, Mango & Co. Ltd. [lettercover] was established in 1865 in Istanbul, based on the third floor of Çinili Han in Galata - [later it appears to be Frenkyan Han]. It was also the Turkey agent for The Royal Netherlands Steamship Co. Amsterdam; The Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company Ltd. of London; C. H. Sprague & Son, of Boston, Mass., America. The Amsterdam based The Royal Netherlands Steamship Company operated from its home port to Portugal, Greece, Istanbul and Black Sea ports on a regular schedule. The Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company Ltd. also produced and marketed greasing oil necessary for industry and shipping. Foscolo, Mango (more information in Andrew Mangos submission) provided Turkish and British coal to shipping companies and in addition it was a trade broker, dealing in coal, tobacco, wool, and the export of dried fruit and cereals and its phone number was Pera 2505/6.
Laurent Reboul belonged to a French origin Levantine family which had business interests in a wide number of fields. Amongst these was the long-term fixture in Istanbul of Reboul Pharmacy while Laurent Reboul himself was the Turkey-wide agent for Paquet, Transport Maritimes, Chargeurs Réunis, Sud Atlantique Lines and Fabre Line shipping companies that were engaged is scheduled passenger and cargo transportation.
The Turkish Hayri Araboğlu & Co were the agents for The Turkish-American Shipping & Trading Co. providing service to the Black Sea and the ports of Greece and the Eastern Meditterenean or in some cases they had agreements with agents in those ports. It a broker of cargo and coal with a phone number of Pera 1930 and telegraph address of Riopoulos, Constantinople. Another firm it represented was the Scandinavian Near East Agency which was both a shipping agency and a cargo broker. Its head-office was in Piraeus port in Greece, within the Spyraki building with offices also in Izmir, Salonica, Dedeağaç, Kavala, Burgaz, Varna, Köstence, Braila and Istanbul. Hayri Araboğlu dealt with the affairs from the same building but with a different phone and telegraph number (Pera 923 and Sneal-Constantinople).
The American Chamber of Commerce in Istanbul was based in Yıldız Han in Galata and its remit stretched across the Levant, with its base in Istanbul. In 1915 its executive committee were: Alphonse Lebet, Harry Mandil, Hobart Nerhararyan, Theodore Reppen, Francis Sarantis, Jules Aslan Fresco, Theedore J. Demon, Theodore N. Curmussi, Adolph Coronel, Jean Constantini and A. G. Arsen, with the president being Marcellus Bowen.
According to the Archipelago American Steamship Co.s 1916 records its Beirut agent were Gabriel and André Farra Khuri, Jaffa agents were Jona Kuebler, Edmond Farwagi & Fils, Mouka & Eliades and its Mersin agent Jean Artus. In Trabzon the foremost shipping agencies were Hochstrasser & Co. and Phostiropoulo Freres.
Some of the prominent merchants in Istanbul during the latter period of the Ottoman Empire were Arsen & Co. based in Gülbenkyan Han, importing skins and furs. Another prominent fur importer was Andrew Blattner. Amongst the mixture of Levantine, Greek, Armenian and Jewish firms one can count Parseg Esefyan at Horasanlı Han, the Coenca Brothers at Bâb-i Âli No. 38, Aslan Fresco at Gülbenkyan Han, Emil Hecht at Ankara Han, in Germania Han no: 42/3 S. T. Çilingiryan and in the same Han, Joseph Seferas and many more.
Geopole Messiri was a well-known shipping chandler whose firm Geo. Messiri & Co. was situated at Pera Yazıcı Sokak no: 46-48. It was a whole-sale dealer of meat, foodstuffs, wine and other drinks, drinking water, perfumery and patented medicines. In addition Geo. Messiri & Co. was the Turkey region ship-chandler for the American fleet.
Aslan Fresco and Sons with their subsidiary the American Levant Agency were based in Makunyan Han No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in Galata. This company also imported American goods and the general manager was Jules Fresco. The original firm set up in 1866 in Istanbul was Fils DAslan Fresco and was the provider of Ottoman state uniforms as well as the representative of supplier firms. This company was also involved in shipping agency work through the American Levant Agency and worked in Istanbul with the Ottoman Bank, Banque Russe, Bank of Salonica and Dalmedio & Co.
The Avedikyan Brothers were from Smyrna. Grandfather Avedikyan started the business in 1848 as a general goods importer, and this company passed on through the generations. Gülbenkian Bros. & Co., though being from Istanbul had long ago had made a family move to 225 Fifth Avenue in New York.
T. Bowen Rees was the Smyrna representative of the America-Levant Line, while his own firm was Messrs T. Bowen Rees & Co. Ltd. The American-Levant Line had scheduled services between New York, Philadelphia and the ports of the Eastern Mediterranean.
The first Norwegian company to be established in Istanbul was Theo. Reppen Co. owned by Theodere Reppen who was also the agent for The United Steamship Co. Ltd. (Kopenhagen), The Swedish Levant-Line (Gothenburg), The Northern Steamship Co. Ltd. (St. Petersburg), Otto Thorsens Line (Christiana), The Odessa-London and The Odessa-South America Line (Odessa). Theodere Reppen was also the representative of the Hamburg based The Nordischer Bergungs-Verein, from Stockholm Bernings och Dykers Atkiebolaget Neptune, Copenhagen centred Em. Z. Xwiter Bjergning Enterprise, specialising in ship-backup and rescue services.
The current Istanbul resident Aldo Baldinis origins go back to the Jonga de Millet family from the Palmanova region around 100 km north of Venice. This family were active in ship repairs on the Golden Horn in Istanbul. The Baldini family were from Northern Italy and they too were involved in shipping in their residence of Trieste and Venice. The first to move to Istanbul, Jonga de Millet was Aldo Baldinis grandfather. He was involved in the production of ship plate for their construction. Aldo Baldini reflects on this linkage and takes it back further in time with these words:
Going way back in time, with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, many people from Pisa, Venice and Genoa emigrate to the powerful state of the time, Byzantium, creating a human bridge. The establishment of the significant Genoese colony of Galata dates back to this time. With time Pisa loses its power and by 1131 it is a trade back-water. This shifts the centre of trade to Venice and in time this city state establishes very strong trade links with Constantinopolis. The later Crusades increase the flow of people from the West and their settlement in port cities and with generations of intermarriage with the local Christians creates a new community that is the origin of the Levantines. The Ottoman Empire from the middle of the 19th century onwards commissions its warships to be built in Italian yards acting as a big impetus in the growth of this sector in Italy. One of the major buyers of the ship-plate produced by my grandfather in his factory was from the Ottoman Navy.
The Ottoman capital of Istanbul had a growing population of Venetian and Genoese settlers through the nineteenth century occupying an important part of the commercial activity of the city. With the increasing numbers, the colony set up its own social charity in 1863 La Societa Operia Italiana di Mutuo Soccorso (Italian Workers Mutual Aid Society) with the purpose to assist the poorer Italians in Constantinople and amongst its founder members was Jonga de Millet.
In 1830 alone 1923 Italian families emigrated to Istanbul and in 1905 another 707 additional families made the move. By the 1930s the community numbered at an estimated 30,000 individuals. Around the early 1990s the number of Italians over 80 were around 100. But the Italian colony still looked after those with modest means with the same society.
Jonga de Millet in 1895 owned a factory that produced ship ovens and other necessities for ships and employed fifty people. The fact that the main engine of the factory was 12 hp was seen as a mark of a significant industrial player of the time and the factory archives show us that the factory also possessed four lathes and five drilling benches.
Another Levantine firm of interest for me is Société dHeraclée formed through the partnership of Yanko Yoanidis, Leonidis, Zarifi, Gaston Auboyneau and Albert Cazes and the last person was also the person responsible for marketing the extracted coal by this firm to ships. Société dHeraclées coal extracting was based in Ereğli, Zonguldak whose headquarters were in Istanbul but had the legal right to open agencies across Turkey. The founders were Yanko Bey Yoannidis, Leonidis Zarifi and the vice president of the Ottoman Bank Gaston Auboyneau. S.E. Yanko Bey Yoannidis as the original concession holder had transferred all his rights to the company. The company with the support of the Ottoman Bank not only constructed mine installations but a port and a railway line connecting them, also allowing for passenger transport and their main market was shipping. With this remit the Société dHeraclée had received the concession firman on 20 December 1891 and the company was formally set up in Paris on 18 May 1896. The length of the concession, subject to not being revoked or extended was set at 42 years. The executive committee of this company were composed of Levantines: Baron de Nervo, Monsieur Berger, Kont DAmoux and Levi Lekolt. The statute books stated that the executive committee could comprise anything between five and eighteen persons and to be eligible to be elected the person needed a minimum of 20 shares and for the general committee 25.
Société dHeraclée was set up with a foundation capital of 10 million franks comprising 20,000 shares at 500 francs each. The general committee had the right to increase the value of the company by 50%. The company also had the right to issue shares and open their sale to the public if the need arose. Shares would bear the name of the original owner until at least half their value was paid by the purchaser, after-which the buyers name would appear. In addition to its normal share the company had two thousand founding shares and the purpose of these shares was not to give their owners voting rights but solely for profit share. Société dHeraclée was an Ottoman company set up with French capital and during WWI the majority of the Ottoman army/navy and well as the civilian population received their coal needs from this firm. In 1937 the company altered its name to Société Français dHeraclée thus becoming a French firm. The reason for this was for the requirements of national pride, as the firm was still using the Greek name for the location, that was Ereğli and this port continued in the Republican times to be a major fuelling station for shipping.
Istanbul based Levantine Albert Cazes under his firm of Albert Cazes & Co. was a coal broker and the same firm today carries on with the role of fuel supplier. This firm had coaling stations at Burgaz, Dedeağaç, Kavala, Mytilene ve Rhodes. In the archives of the Canacaris firm in Istanbul I discovered the Albert Cazess brochure, entries in the registers and an agreement for the supply of fuel to the Greek company Messrs. Georgandis Bros based in Piraeus for 2 years. According to this agreement the Georgandis Brothers ships would coal up from the Albert Cezas & Co. in Hereklée-Ereğli on the Black Sea. The Canacaris & Fils Co. still exists today and is headed by Aldo Campaner. Albert Cezas & Co. had its offices at Tahir Han on Rıhtım Cad., Galata.
With the end of the First World War, the Ottoman Empire came to an end and the Turkish Republic was founded in its remainder territory and if we look at the picture of shipping agencies active in Istanbul in the May 1925 the following listing emerges:
- A. John Galani, Merkez Rıhtım Han, Galata.
All these shipping agencies provided regular services to America. In addition we see that Dabcovich & Co. was for the first time registered for goods brokerage.
The American Export Lines was a foreign firm providing regular services to New York, Philedelphia, Baltimore ports as well as Malta, Alexandria, Latakia, Haifa, Piraeus ve Salonica on the 10th and 25th of each month. This brokerage firm also provided a service at 15 day intervals covering the US ports, the Western coast of Italy, Marseille and Istanbul for both cargo and passengers.
H. Mikaelyan was an Istanbul origin trader who had shops in Istanbul, Palm Beach, Florida, New York City 2 West 47. Street, selling antiques and Eastern carpets. Another local trader was S. Mardikyan who in 1868 founded S. Mardigian Sons who operated a similar store in the Mahmut Paşa area of Istanbul.
The Levantine James Wlliam Whittall owned J. W. Whittall & Co. Ltd. and was engaged in trade, banking, shipping agency, insurance, mining and marketing of mining ore. He was the local Lloyd Agent and in time these rights were passed to Vitsan and currently managed under the direction of İlkay Bilgişin. J.W. Whittall & Co. Ltd. was the Turkey representative of Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., Pacific Steam Navigation Co., The Moss Steamship Co. Ltd., Khedivial Mail Line; Royal Exchange Assurance Corporation, Phoenix Assurance Co. Ltd., London Salvage Association, Osaka Marine & Fire Insurance Co., Japanese Steamship Lines and others. In addition the company was engaged in the export of food-stuffs, leather, hazelnuts, mining, agricultural and animal products.
The Chambre Maritime des Compagnies de Navigation Etrangéres Constantinople with the end of WWI in 1919 elected as head through its general committee meeting Mr E. Lebussiere who was the representative of Compagnies Des Messageries Maritimes. Records show that in 1921 the presidency passed to Quintino Fonzo Cruciani who was the agent for Societa Italiana di Servizi Messageries Maritimes in Turkey. In 1928 the new head of the Chamber becomes Laurent Reboul who stays in this post for an incredible 33 years till 26 January 1961. In the voting of the Chamber on 27th January 1961 Hugh La Fontaine is elected president. He stays in this post for three years and due to ill health he hands the position to another Istanbul Levantine, Gabriel Couteaux.
Two very important decisions are arrived by the Chamber in the 1973 meeting; the first being the name change of the Chamber to Vapur Donatanları ve Acenteleri Derneği [The Society of Shipping Chandlers and Agencies] and the other being the new president elected was Captain Metin Leblebicioğlu, and staying at this post for 30 successful years. The Chamber in 2002 announced its membership stood at 134.
The Chamber archives contain 12 volumes, however the 25 year period between 1902 and 1927 is not recorded in anyway, clearly a major loss to history. The earliest register book starts from 1927 and all decisions reached are recorded in double entry columns, in French and Ottoman script Turkish. On page 159 is the record of decision number 11 dated 9 October 1928 in which French is dropped as the recording language and from then onwards it is Turkish in Latin script alone under the title of Şambir Maritim de Kampani dö Navigasyon Etranger Cemiyeti Zabıt Defteri (a month before the Republican law changing the national script to this alphabet). The fourth book in the Chamber archives records the new name of the organisation as Ecnebi Seyr-i Sefain Şirketleri ve Armatörleri Cemiyeti Idare Heyeti İçtima Zabıtnamesi.
The unrecorded 25 years of the early history of the Chamber is reflected in the lack of photographs from this era. Unfortunately there was a partial clear-out of records following the stepping down from the presidency of Gabriel Couteaux and the oldest photograph that has survived till today is one recording the general committee meeting assembled in November 1934, recorded by the Femina photo-atelier of Beyoğlu in which these 27 members are recognised as C. Mohak, Q. Malioğlu, J. W. Kernick, A. Bonetta, Laurent Reboul, A. Hayri, J. Laster, C. Siskidi, C. Dabcovich, R. Ferri, V. Karinski, C. Doros, Marcello Campaner, Dimitro Mango, Roland Whittall, Hugh La Fontaine, I. Bakladieff, C. Bennet, A. Sovelli, C. Palmieri, A. Canacaris, S. Efremides, C. Hakkı, B. Araboğlu, D. Anagnostopoulo, E. Joannides and M. Hattem.
A group photo taken in 1934 of the Shipping Chamber, on the occassion of their general meeting. Left to right, front row: P. Lampros, 2- Alfred Silley, 3- Emille Barbours, 4- C. Decha, 5- W. Petche, 6- J. Seymiri, 7- Timothée Reboul
Left to right, back row: 8- N. Aperguis, 9- B. Ardunas, 10- L. Tourter, 11- C. Noykoff, 12- James W. Whittall, 13- W. Seager, 14- R. Lendemann, 15- Théodoridi, 16- G. Schrimph, 17- Theodore Reppen, 18- Bodgan De Jugovich, 19- F. Rizzo, 20, Laurent Reboul, 21- G. Doros - 22- Dimitri Mango, 23- James La Fontaine, 24- Theo C. Curmissi.
A group photo taken on 4 March 1968 of the Shipping Chamber, on the occassion of their general meeting. Left to right, sitting: 1- Willie Sperco, 2- C. Milovich, 3- Marcello Campaner, 4- Fabriel Couteaux, 5- Charles Radziwonowicz (director of the Van der Zee shipping agency), 6- M. Eris, 7- Hugh E. Lafontaine,
Left to right, back row: 8- C. Mohak, 9- J. Birim, 10- Ayhan Keyman, 11- Pascal Serres, 12- Cezmi Serter, 13- H. Ançer, 14- Remon Buzuru, 15- S. Voynas, 16- Charles Wilkinson, 17- O. Ehrenstein, 18- R. Ersu, 19- F. Romano, 20- A. Gatt, 21- Izzet Hatem, 22- M.D. Marchi, 23- C. Ikiz, 24- L. Kovess, 25- Mösyö Balich, 26- Demitrius Zervoudakis, 27- Felix Franchi, 28- Yanni Hacakis.
According to Doç. Dr. Murat Koraltürk in his study entitled Türkiyede Ticaret ve Sanayi Odaları, 1880-1952 [Trade and Industry Chambers in Turkey, 1880-1952] Westerners didnt tend to select overseas countries where there was a high number of traders of their nation but concentrated in setting these up where they were necessary for the development of trade networks. On this model Turkey came top of the list on nations where foreigners set up commercial chambers. These chambers of commerce starting from 1870 were established in all the key ports of the Levant, primarily Istanbul, then Smyrna, Beirut, Damascus, Salonica. The first chamber in Istanbul was under the umbrella of the Austro-Hungarian Embassy under the name of Dersaadet Avusturya-Macaristan Ticaret Odası which by 1874 had become an independent unit and later it opened similar chambers in Beirut, Damascus and Salonica. The French set up their chamber in 1885 under the name of Chambre de Commerce Française dIstanbul and the honorary president was at the same time was the French Ambassador to Turkey. The chamber had an honorary committee as well as an executive committee. Part of its members were Levantines, including Gabriel Couteaux (of Belgian origin) who was also one of the founder members of the Chambre Maritime Des Compagnies de Navigation Etrangéres in 1902.
Amongst the activities of the French Chamber was to monitor the laws enacted in France concerning the development of foreign trade, provide their feedback opinion on amendments and proposals, provide warnings if any of these brought curbs and limits to the operations of French traders and communicate these concerns straight to the officials in France. The French government would consider other requests in the name of helping overseas trade including customs duties that made them uncompetitive compared to their rivals and special rates for French postage and small scale goods conveyance. One of the remits of the French Chamber was to improve the export potential of France and with this thought to find work and placement for a number of French youths in Turkey amongst their affiliated firms.
The French Chamber of Commerce would receive over a thousand letters per year covering all manner of problems concerning trade and economic issues. These were individually answered by mail. Many French companies through their trade connection with Turkey were members of the Chamber and the Chamber would provide information and advice concerning the trustworthiness of their client companies, their activities and would arrange for representatives in Turkey. Full members of the Chamber had to be French citizens and the executive committee was chosen amongst these members. In 1889 the Chambre de Commerce Française dIstanbul - Dersaadet Fransız Ticaret Odası set up its sister organisation in Smyrna / Izmir of Chambre de Commerce Française de Symrna - İzmir Fransız Ticaret Odası [lettercovers from the French Chamber of Alexandria, 1897 & Istanbul, 1905].
The British Chamber of Commerce of Turkey [further info] was set up in 1887, based in Istanbul and members had to be either British nationals or representing British companies. Despite this there were many members amongst the 120 such as Van der Zee who were of a Dutch origin family of shipping agents based in Smyrna / Izmir, who were admitted to this Chamber.
The Italian trade and industry ministry in 1883 made a decision to establish commerce chambers in foreign countries and the first one to be established was in Istanbul. During WWI the number of members in this Chamber rose to 340. The Italian government left it to those on the ground to organise the establishment of the chambers and it was on those people to also raise the necessary funds to realise this enterprise. The Chamber had its own bulletin La Rassegna Italiana (view of bound archives) and in time a branch was established in Smyrna / Izmir.
The Dutch opened their first chamber in 1903 in Smyrna / Izmir and it had 200 members affiliated. The Dutch Consul of this city was also the honorary president of the Chamber.
The United States of America established its Chamber in Turkey in Istanbul in 1891 under the name of the American Chamber of Commerce (Memalik-i Şarkiye Ticaret Odaları) and later established branches across the Levant in Beirut, Baghdad, Athens, Aleppo, Mersin, Izmir and Trabzon. Right from its inception in 1891 the American Chamber produced a monthly bulletin titled Levant Trade Review and the offices of this publication till 1915 was Minerva Han, no: 38-39, Galata. This bulletin was printed at the H. Matteosyan printers. In its August 1924 edition its office address was given as Yıldız Han, Galata. Another commercial chamber active in Turkey was the Russian Chamber established in Istanbul in 1913.
In addition to the national chambers of commerce there were trade bodies set up in the latter part of the 19th century in Istanbul and Izmir by ship chandlers and shipping agents, however there is no guarantee any records have survived the vagaries of time. In which case this article sets out to highlight the story of these companies through the records of the overall shipping chamber and national chambers, to be built over time as new documents come to light.
The Chamber of Vapur Donatanları ve Acenteleri Derneği gradually changed in composition with the diminishing numbers of Levantines in the country and by the 1970s the membership reflected this shift. The general meeting of the chamber that took place at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul on 23 April 1973 had their group picture taken as was customary as a memento of the day and the change of composition there is clear.
Until 1902 there was no unity amongst the representatives of shipping companies whose ships frequented the port of Istanbul. Looking at the adverts appearing in the Levant Herald gazette for the period of 1885-1902 one sees repeatedly the same adverts by these companies.
The Trident Line with 10 ships had regular services between Marseille, Constantinople and Odessa on the 10, 20, 30th of the month from Marseille and on the 5, 15, 25th from Odessa with the following vessels: Jaffar at 5,000 dwt (dead weight ton), Hajdar and Fonar (4,500 dwt), Aidar, Bidar and Dalmar (3,550 dwt), Gonchar (2,800 dwt), Izgar (2,400 dwt). The Istanbul representative of the Trident Line was M. Et. Zicaliotti who was also the agent for the Halaçyan Compagnie De Navigation à Vapeur Panhellenique based at Büyük Millet Han No.33 in Galata. This other company ran passenger services at 15 day intervals between Batumi, Samsun, Trabzon, and Istanbul with services departing Batumi on Fridays at 3 in the morning arriving in Istanbul on Sunday mornings.
The Compagnie Marseillaise De Navigation à Vapeur Fraissinet & Cie also ran a Piraeus - Trieste service departing from Istanbul on Sundays at 4pm on 15 day intervals calling at Piraeus, Gython, Kalamata, Katakolon, Zante, Patras, Ste. Maure and Trieste. According to the summer programme of this same company there was a regular departure on Saturdays from Marseille to Salonica and thence to Çanakkale and Istanbul on a ring circuit. Tickets for passengers or cargo could be obtained from Cité Française on Mumhane Caddesi, Galata or their offices at Bahçekapi, Eminönü.
Another advert shown was the The Papayanni Line of Screw Steamships employing the newer propelor propulsion with its agent being Dolos Brothers in Büyük Halil Paşa Han. No.2, Galata.
James W. Whittall was the representative of the Moss Steamship Company who was based in Whittall Han, Bahçekapı, Eminönü. The J. W. Whittall & Co. Ltd. was in turn based in Sansaryan Han, Sirkeci. The Foscolo Mango & Co. Shipping Company was the representative of the Compagnie Royale Neerlandaise à Vapeur Company which had regular departures between Amsterdam, Piraeus, Salonica, Istanbul and Izmir and according to passenger or cargo needs also called on Malta and Patras. The Wilson Line was a British company that had one of the most regular services between Hull (England), Constantinople and Odessa and their representative was the F. Heald & Rizzo partnership based in Küçük Millet Han, No.17-18, Galata.
The Deutsche Levant Linie Istanbul representative in turn was Agelasto Sfezzo & Co. also based in the Küçük Millet Han, Galata. The shortened name for this German company was DLL and it conducted regular services between Hamburg, Anvers, Piraeus, Syra, Izmir, Salonica, Constantinople, Galatz and Braila. According to the advert published in the Levant Herald in July 1890 the ship named Chios under the command of Captain Jansen would depart from Hamburg, take on board cargo and passengers at Anvers and would arrive at the ports of Galatz on the 27th July and Braila on the 30th of July. Similarly a ship named India under Captain Hülsen would leave Hamburg on the 19th of July, arriving at Anvers on the 26th July and would then continue to the ports of Piraeus, Syra, Izmir, Salonica and Istanbul, with excellent facilities provided for the passengers. The agent in Izmir of the Deutsche Levant Linie was Paul Milberg.
La Societe Unie Des Bateaux à Vapeur-Det Forenede Dampskibsselskab, was a Copenhagen based shipping company whose Turkey agent as advertised in July 1890 was C. J. Reppen & Cie. based in Küçük Çömlekçi Han No.14, Galata. In this same advert it was stated that the ship named Georgios would depart on the 16th of July Odessa and would start a ring service that would call on the ports of Piraeus, Izmir, Salonica and Istanbul. The ship named Leopold II would in turn start a ring route service that would cover Istanbul, Trabzon, Batumi and Odessa. The ship named Omsk would depart Anvers on the 16th August to call on Tunis, Piraeus, Salonica and Istanbul. This company also stated the passengers would be provided all comforts in these ships during their voyage. The same page of this newspaper also features an advert by the company Gilchrist, Walker & Co. which didnt specify the name of the company it was representing but listed the names of the ships and the dates of their arrival and departures from Istanbul: S.S. Coot was on its way to Istanbul, and others expected were S.S. Orchir on 5th August, S.S. Moorhen on 7th August, S.S. Bolderaa on 10th August and Tenedos on the 14th of August. S.S. Juan, S.S. Avoca and S.S. Science were currently in dock being loaded.
The Leyland Linie Company represented by Edward La Fontaine & Co. based in Mehmet Ali Pasa Han. No.1 gave regular adverts announcing its scheduled services between Liverpool, Istanbul and Izmir. Again in the 1900 edition of Levant Herald addresses were provided of banks, insurance companies, industrial concerns, even those giving dancing lessons.
Similarly in the pages of the Levant Trade Review which was the monthly bulletin of the local American Chamber of Commerce were many adverts taken out by shipping agencies. From this it can be seen that Fabre Line was represented by Laurent Reboul agency. Fabre Line ran regular services between Istanbul and New York with 4 steam-ships, with ports called on including Piraeus, Napoli, Algiers and the Azores Islands. The ships in this fleet were Providence at 18,000 dwt, Canada 14,000 dwt, Madonna and Braga at 10,000 dwt.
Laurent Reboul was also the representative of the Paquet Transport Maritimes, Chargeurs Reunis and sud Atlantique Lines. His company was in Galata with his telegraph address as REBOUL-Constantinople, and telephone number: PERA 203 and 204.
The G.P. Rizopoulos & D.G. Araboglu shipping agency and brokering company at the same time was a supplier of coaling for shipping, whose head-office was on Galata Rıhtım no. 46 with a telegraph address of Rizopoulos-Constantinople and telephone: Pera 1930. This company dealt with the ports of the Black Sea, Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean. Within the remit of Araboglu was another agency with the name of Scandinavian Near East Agency Steamship Agents & Brokers. Its head-quarters were at Spyraki Building in Piraeus, Greece. This company operated both as a shipping agency and a freight broker. It had branches in Alexandria, Izmir, Salonica, Dedeağaç, Kavala, Burgaz, Varna, Köstence and Braila. Though this company shared the same address with C. P. Rizopoulos & D.G. Araboglu its phone number was PERA 923.
Later advertisements show this partnership changes in nature and become two separate but connected companies under the new names of The Turkish-American Shipping & Trading Co. and the Hayri Araboğlu & Co. However these firms are now based in IV. Arabyan Han in Galata, acting as shipping agents, cargo brokers and coal providers. Both the telegraph and phone numbers were the same as the parent company. In a similar manner the Scandinavian Near East Agency Steamship Agents & Brokers made a move to this Han.
C. & G. Vuccino steam-ship agency and brokerage company was on the second floor of Cité Française on Rıhtım Caddesi, Galata, with the phone contact of PERA 2047 and no telegraph number. They had branches and agencies in the Black Sea, the Danube and the Eastern Mediterranean ports.
Levantines of Iskenderun
A group photo from 1900s, taken in front of the MacAndrews & Forbes Company liquorice processing plant store-rooms in İskenderun (Alexandretta), provided courtesy of the late Eduardo Levante - other photos and information from this family:
The photograph was taken in 1938 when Iskenderun was part of the brief Hatay Republic before joining Turkey in a plebiscite within a year. On the extreme left is standing Strati Gylptis founder and owner of Hatay Oils and on his left the founder of the Catoni Shipping line, Joseph Catoni. The man standing in the middle of the crowd is the manager of the Catoni Shipping Line, Marcel Balit. The woman in white, sitting cross-legged on the right is Lucie Levante, the wife of Luigi Levante who is standing behind-left of her. The woman sitting to the left of her in a dark dress is Lila, wife of Antoine Makzume. The lady to the left of her and the gentleman behind are the engineer with the Forbes company, Watt and his wife. Continuing the left are Raymond Makzume, the brother of Lionel Makzume, and extreme back row, continuing left are: the manager of the Forbes plant, Mr Joyce, Emil Makzume and Emile Boutros, the father of Ernest Boutros. On the extreme right, back row is the municipal head of Iskenderun Nicola Philippi. The man on the extreme right, in a pale suit, is Edward Boutros and the child right behind him Antoine Makzume and to their left, the lady sitting with a dark dress is Henriette, the mother of Lionel Makzume. The lady sitting on the ground near her, with hat, is the sister of Lionel Makzume, Mirelle Makzume - more on the Makzume family.
In 2011 this land was developed and now a 5 star hotel Forbes Park Hilton now stands.
Eduardo Levante, a long-time friend of mine, was a shipping agent based in Iskenderun and was the son of Alfredo Levante who was also a shipping agent in that city. Alfredo Levante had a keen interest in history and had in his time written a history of the region of Cilicia (Hatay, Iskenderun, Antakya, Samandağ, Tarsus, Adana ve Mersin) written in French and I had translated these to Turkish and they were subsequently published in the Hayat Tarih Mecmuası in 1963-64. Alfredo Levante was also the honorary consul of Iskenderun during the WWII period and so he would receive intelligence photographs from the agency (the Servizio Informazione Militari (SIM) some of which he later gave to me.
Levantines of the Black Sea Coast: The Swiss Holstrasser, the French Laurent Reboul and the Italian Rossi brothers of Samsun and Trabzon
With the treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, for the first time the Ottoman Empire was forced to cede right of navigation to Russian trade vessels in the Black Sea. The same rights of free movement within this sea was given to Austria in 1784 and early 19th century to Western European powers including Britain and France.
The port of Samsun along the central Black Sea coast of Turkey in the 1880s featured minor trade before the age of electricity with the trade in fuel and lubricating oils by Greek, Armenian and a few European merchants. With the regular visit to this port of European flagged ships during the 19th century led to an expansion of the export of its famously scented tobacco from this producing region. This flowering of trade brought in many European immigrants, both Levantines from Trabzon and Smyrna and from Europe, creating a mixed colony of French, Swiss, Yugoslav and Italian merchants.
From the second half of the 19th century the ports of Trabzon and Samsun received increasing transit human traffic with refugees escaping the Caucuses from Russian expansion, the Imam Shamil insurrection, the Crimean War and the later Russo-Ottoman War of 1877-8 made Samsun one of the busiest ports in the Black Sea.
The European powers conducted their trade through shipping companies and their representative shipping agencies. By 1897 the shipping companies whose vessels would dock in Samsun and their representatives were thus:
The first shipping brokerage company based in the port of Samsun was established by Kanadoğlu Aristidi and family in 1910 and named the Bahr-ı Siyah Shipping Company. By 1912 the shipping companies operating and their agencies active in Samsus are as follows: Canakis, Lazarides; Adolf Deppe, Jirayr Hekimyan; Deutsche Levante Linie - Hochstrasser & Cie.; Khidivial Mail Steamship - C.L.Hekimyan & Sons.; Lloyd Autrichien - Del Torre ; Les Messageries Maritimes - Laurent Colomb; La Compagnie N. Paquet & Cie- Jirayr Hekimyan & Sons; La Compagnie Panhellenique - Boduroğlu Kirkor; Navigazione Generale Italiana - Markopoli; Ellerman - Giraud & Corres Pandant; Lloyd Triestino Navigazione (Trieste) - Alberto Rossi; Holstrasser & Co. - Fernand Madzar (Later Samsun Deniz Tic. Ltd.).
The Rossi agency of Samsun
During the second half of the 19th century one of the three brothers (the others being Antonio and Paolo) conducting maritime work in the port of Genoa in Italy, Bernardo Rossi decided to move East to conduct his business. This brother had listened to the tales of sailors of ships that had called at Istanbul and Smyrna and in addition Istanbul had a substantial and long-standing Genoese presence. He moved to Istanbul to put his plan to action, to fulfil his dream of creating a fleet of tug-boats and barges to transfer goods from ships. At the same time in the 1890s when Bernardo Rossi had settled in Istanbul, his brother Antonio Rossi had moved to Salonica while the other brother, Paolo Rossi had migrated to Batoum to pursue shipping agency work there.
Bernardo Rossi is Aldo Rossis great-grandfather. Bernard Rossi and family lived in a gardened house in Yüksek Kaldırım, Galata and in 1880 their son, Alberto Rossi was born. Toward the end of 1920 Bernardo Rossi with wife Maria move to Samsun and this coincides with the establishment of the first Italian consulate in that city. By 1927 Alberto Rossis son Ethio Rossi was born in Istanbul and this branch of the family also move to Samsun. The Rossi family are shipping agents including for the important Italian company of Adriatica Navigazione. The representative of this company in Istanbul was Aldo Campaner.
The port of Trabzon in the 19th century*
Towards the end of the 19th century Trabzon had become an important stop-over port for steamers. There were 2 sailings in and out per day (3 on Thursdays) with the typical route being from Istanbul to Batoum, with Samsun and Trabzon being the intermediate stops either way. Excluding Sundays, from Trabzon there were daily departures to Istanbul. There were also the irregular callings of ships to this port, adding to pressure to upgrade the custom and storage facilities of the port. Agents of these steam-ship companies were either the non-Moslem minorities of the Ottoman realm or foreigners residing in the country, such as the Swiss Holstrasser family. The shipping agencies active in Trabzon during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century were:
The companies operating in Trabzon were:
Osman Öndeş was born in Üsküdar, Istanbul in 1931. He has worked as a newspaperman all his life and is still a press card carrier. Amongst the newspapers and magazines that have published articles by Mr Öndeş include Son Saat, Milliyet, Hürriyet, Günaydın, Dünya, Referans, Hayat Tarih Dergisi, Hayat Mecmuası, Belgelerle Türk Tarihi, Atlas Tarih, Derin Tarih with Son Saat and Günaydın newspapers also publishing novels penned by the author.
Osman Öndeş has had books published for nearly 40 years on Ottoman history, with specialities including the life and times of the Orientalist painter Fausto Zonaro with the book entitled Osmanlı Saray Ressamı Fausto Zonaro [The Ottoman Palace painter Fausto Zonaro] published by Yapı Kredi Yayıncılık and printed three times in Turkish and twice in English. Another important local Orientalist painter was also explored in the book İstanbul Aşığı Ressam Kont Amadeo Preziosi [The painter in love with Istanbul: Count Amedeo Preziosi] published by Milliyet Sanat Yayınları, reprinted by Show yayınevi - summary.
Osman Öndeş has published 19 books in total, some are listed below:
1- Bin Renk Bir Ömür - Sefire Emine Esenbel [The life of Sefire Emine Esenbel], İş Bankası Yayını
2- Endaze - Ord. Prof. Ata Nutkunun anıları [The memoirs of Prof. Ata Nutku], İmeak Yayını
3- Ertuğrul Firkateyni Faciası [The Ertuğrul Frigate disaster], Aksoy Yayıncılık
4- Refahı Kim Batırdı [Who sunk the Refah], Denizler Kitapevi
5- Osmanlı Saray Ressamı Fausto Zonaro [The Ottoman Palace painter Fausto Zonaro], Yapı Kredi Yayını (co-authored)
6- Efsanevi Kaptan Şefik Gogen [The illustrious Captain Şefik Gogen], İşkültür Yayını
7- Kanuninin Amirali Turgut Reis [The admiral of Suleiman the Magnificent, Turgut Reis], Timaş Yayınevi
8- Vahdeddinin Sırdaşı - Avni Paşa Anlatıyor [The confident of the Sultan Vahdeddin Avni Pasha recounts], Timaş Yayınevi
9- Vurun Osmanlıya [Hit the Ottoman], Timaş Yayınevi
10- Modalı Vitol Ailesi [The Whittall family of Moda], Tarihçi Yayınevi*
(*) The memoirs of the author who has lived in Moda between 1950-2000 and in its early years of residency recollections of the Whittall family and old mansions of Moda.
Notes: 1-To read an article penned by fellow contributor Alex Baltazzi in 2008 dealing with the importance and legacy of the port of Izmir, click here:
submission date 2013