Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Concubine by O. Petrides

concubine by o. petrides
I thought about a lot about what to post on this last day of the year. In approximately 7 hours my time, a new year, 2009 will begin.

Women suffered a lot in the Middle East and they still are. O. Petrides's Concubine, a water color on paper shows a long gone era. You can see, or rather feel her solitude, loneliness, and her grace in spite of all the luxury around. I sincerely wish the women of the region a happy 2009. Same to you, all.
Dated 1921.

Dimensions: 25.5x19 cm.
Estimated value: $ 1,500

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hilye-i Serif by Ahmed Fehim Tufengi

hilye-i serif by ahmed fehim tufengi

Another beautifully designed hilye-i serif by Ahmed Fehim Tufengi. Dated 1807, it is a rare example of its time. Ottoman era saw a lot of hilye-i serif artists partly due to the dubious interpretation of pictures and painting in Islam.

Dimensions: 14.5x1.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 2,500

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Istanbul by Onnik Azarian

istanbul crayon on paper by onnik azarian
Here comes an interesting work by Onnik Azarian (1883-1935), a crayon on paper. Definitely contrary to the styles of his contemporaries, Azarian portrays a grotesque image of Istanbul. It is as if all of a sudden fires will be lit and pagans will start dancing and screaming I do not know what. It is really difficult to explain my feelings about this painting.

Dimensions: 30x21 cm.
Estimated value: $ 1,000

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Turkish Opal from Constantinople

score sheet my turkish opal from constantinople
Another score sheet, this time by Arthur Gillespie and Edna Williams, featuring songs of Elizabeth Murray in an A.H. Woods production dubbed "Exceeding the Speed Limit."

My Turkish Opal from Constantinople gently or sublimely calls you to your exquisite harem of priceless gems not to be found elsewhere. It is interesting to observe that these are offered in the Orient to the common man of the West whereas same is promised in heaven to the common man of the East, after fulfilling a lengthy condition list, of course.

Estimated value: $ 90

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ottoman Backgammon Board

19c ottoman backgammon board
The history of backgammon and its derivatives can be traced to ancient Mesopotamia but the rules and variant played in Anatolia is of Persian origin, such that the terms used in game are still Persian although Turkish equivalents exist. It has never lost its popularity for many centuries and is still one of the favorite games played at homes and cafes alike, though rarely an equipment like this 19th century Ottoman backgammon board is used.

Dimensions: 56x55.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 8,000

Monday, December 8, 2008

Iranian Reading Desk

19c iranian reading desk
Apart from the thought how one can comfortably read a book sitting and with a desk like this, I truly wish I had a more detailed photo of this piece, so that you can clearly see the quality of craftsmanship on this Iranian reading desk of nineteenth century.

Dimensions: 57.50x21 cm.
Estimated value: $ 4,000

Ottoman Ink Holder

19c ottoman ink holder
Looking at this nineteenth century Ottoman ink holder made of bone, one wonders how difficult it must have been to write something. Yet, because of this difficulty we enjoy a heritage of inscription and beautiful works of calligraphy.

Length: 34.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 8,000

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kita Board by Mustafa Vasif

kita board by mustafa vasif, 17c

I planned to finish a series of articles because of Thanks Giving but when I saw this kita board by Mustafa Vasif among the files, I decided to post it right away. Dated 1791, it is one the finest examples, I think.

Dimensions: 15x22 cm.
Estimated value: $ 7,500

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ortakoy by François Prieur Bardin

Ortakoy by Francois Prieur Bardin
Old Istanbul paintings and pictures continue to amaze me. It is very hard for me to believe by looking at François Prieur Bardin's oil on canvas "Ortakoy" that this is the same place where I once had my breakfast almost every weekend. OK, the mosque is still there but next to and behind it there are now cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. Oh, and a beautiful bazaar where handcrafters display and sell their work on Sundays. Dated 1920.

Dimensions: 24x40.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 15,000

Ottoman Hand-worked Cushions

19c ottoman handworked cushions

Guest room, as opposed to living room, had an important place in Ottoman daily life. Special care was taken to decorate it, regardless of your financial status. Carpets, coffee cups, chairs, sofas were hand-picked. To your right are two hand-worked cushions of 19th century. They were probably made for export, though, as they are not typical cushions we used to see around here.

Dimensions: 40.5x44.5 and 49x44 cm.
Estimated value: $ 3,000

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bodrum by Walter Bourchier Devereux

engraving of Bodrum by Walter Bourchier Devereux

Those who have been to Bodrum in the 21st century will have a hard time believing their eyes, but this is what Bodrum looked like some 200 years ago. A fortress, a frigate or galeon or two, empty spaces, few faces.

Last time I was there, a policeman was standing at an intersection where vehicles were not allowed, trying to orchestrate pedestrians so that they would not walk on each other around 02:00 AM.

A beautiful engraving by Walter Bourchier Devereux.

Dimensions: 26.5 x 42 cm.
Estimated value: $ 700

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ferman of Sultan Mustafa IV

ferman of sultan Mustafa iv
Unlike his ferman, Sultan Mustafa IV's reign was not so beautiful. After a revolt which led to his predecessor's murder, he reached the throne on May 29, 1807, but practically Topal Ataullah Efendi, the religious leader of the time, was effectively controlling the government. When Ataullah's religious style proved too orthodox, the opposition planned a coup under the leadership of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha. Mustafa IV tried killing their own brothers to keep the throne, but Alemdar's forces saved Mahmud II, killing Mustafa and Ataullah; it was too late for Selim III, the other brother.

His ferman still shines though; clear, pastel colors, one of the best I have seen. Dated 1807.

Dimensions: 78x52.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 7,500

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

16th Century Iznik Plate

sixteenth century iznik nicea ceramic plate

China has always attracted people. Maybe it's because they are part of our everyday lives such that it is hard to finish a day without touching or using one. What makes antique china and ceramics in general so valuable is not only their craftsmanship, but they also have two unique qualities:

1- They are not so durable; as time goes by, fewer of them remain.
2- The natural dyes used on them. Most of the time, the technique in achieving that color, and the plants that were used are not available any more.

Iznik (Nicea) is an area famous for its china and ceramic tiles and this 16th century plate survived countless careless owners.

Diameter: 31.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 25,000

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Aznavur Zenne Pitcher and Bowl

silver Aznavur Zenne pitcher and bowl

Here comes a masterpiece, a silver Aznavur zenne pitcher and bowl with sultan's signature (tugra). These pieces originate from Aznavur Pasaji in Istanbul, where collectioners and artisan shops are located. Although the place looks small from outside, it is not. You can spend the entire day there if you like antiques and collectibles. I can not give a date because either I did not take note of it then, or it was not available; can't remember. My guess is 19th century.

Weight: 1,660 g
Height: 39 cm.
Radius: 30 cm.
Estimated value: $ 30,000

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Palace Girl by Fritz Hummel

palace girl by Fritz Hummel

Among all female portraits of Ottoman era made by various artists, The Palace Girl by Fritz Hummel ((1828-1905) is probably my favorite. If I were Philip Scott Johnson, I would no doubt include her in the 500 Years of Female Portraits video. Clarity, attention to detail, facial expression of the model, her dress, the jewelry box, everything gets an A from me. Dated 1857, oil on canvas.

Dimensions: 77.5x63 cm.
Estimated value: $ 7,500

Monday, November 10, 2008

Calligraphy: Tools of the Trade

scissors and makta used in calligraphy

You may wonder what kind of tools are used in Ottoman calligraphy. To your right is a picture of scissors and a section marker called makta.

Scissors is in the form a pelican and both have plant motifs, inlaid with gold. Their length are 16 and 13.5 cm. respectively. The edge of makta is open-worked.

19th century
Estimated value: $ 5,000

18th Century Tombac Censer

ottoman tombac censer 18c
Censers have always been a favorite object of temples, no religion excepted. Burning incense in them is part of various ceremonies. In addition to religious rituals, incense and censers are widely used during meditation or, how can we say, similar mental exercises.

Now, I am not saying instead of using a 1 dollar wooden piece you should use this Ottoman tombac censer of 18th century. With leave figures at the base and baklava motifs at the lid (repousse technique), it is destined to take you to a spiritual voyage, especially after you see the price tag.

Height: 25.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 30,000

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pyramids by Yervant Chimchidian

pyramids by Yervant Chimchidian
I have uploaded Yervant Chimchidian's (1903-1975) Pyramids not because of its historical or commercial value, but because I thought it would look cool against the dark background of the site. I really heard these words and I'm sure you must have had, too.

I do not know why, but Yervant's oil on canvas moves me. Not that it is melancholic; on the contrary, whenever I feel like that, it swiftly takes me out of it. Oh, it does look cool against a dark background, by the way. :-)

Dimensions: 24.5x35.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 750

1936 Black Dodge

1936 model black Dodge

As I mentioned in Old Taximeters, Istanbul was a gold mine as far as old American cars are concerned. Many were actively used until the end of 70's. Pictured is a 1936 model Dodge, imported for the Belgian managing director of IETT (Istanbul Public Transport Company) in 1937.
From Mehmet Rado's collection.

Chasis nr.: 0259711TS
Engine nr.: 97648
Licence nr.: 34 AE 019
Estimated value: $ 18,500

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rococo Board by Ismail Hakki Mektubi

rococo board by Ismail Hakki Mektubi
Another fine example of Ottoman calligraphy, a signed (with ketebe) board by Ismail Hakki Mektubi (?-?). It praises all the sultans of the empire, starting from Osman (Othman), the founder, to Abdulaziz. Written with a talik style, the board is ornamented with (tezhip) gold and plant motifs of various colors, shining with the glamor of rococo days. It can illuminate any dark lit room; add a mirror or two and enjoy your cognac. Am I being sentimental or what?

Dimensions: 36x26 cm.
Estimated value: $ 4,500

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sultan Suleiman Era, Turkish Miniatures 2

miniature of husrev and shirin
In the East, during war and later peace with Iran, lead to continuous relations and has been one of the essential sources for influence and inspiration for Ottoman painters. Numerous eastern works and books were duplicated, reprinted, translated and illustrated. The accounting books of the time (Ehl-i Hiref books) show Iranians were the majority among palace artists. The miniature of Firdawsi of Bursa in his Suleimanname is a good example of the period.

Sultan Suleiman (The Magnificent) period is an important mark in the history of miniature. Regular recording of important historical events, wars, campaigns, celebrations, innovations, in and out going ambassadors etc started, and illustration of such books became customary. The palace officially started to employ writers and artists, and profession of sehname writing emerged. We can count Hamse of Nevai (TPM, H. 802), Divan of Nevai (TPM, R. 804), Tuhfet-el Ahrar among (TPM, R. 914) the most significant of these works.

sultan suleiman miniatureBut, perhaps the most important work of the period is, without a doubt, Suleimanname of Arifi. It tells the Hungarian Siege of 1543, the conquest of Nice and the sea campaigns.

In the spring of 1543, Ottoman naval forces set sail under the command of Barbaros Hayreddin, to aid François I of France. Barbaros or Barbarossa, reached Marseille after calling a number of Italian ports and joined the French armada. The joint forces took back Nice which was occupied by the Duke of Savois, an ally of Karl V at the time. Then the fleet went to Toulon to pass the winter. Along the way Barbarossa also freed Turgut Reis, who was a prisoner in Genoa, by threatening the burn down the entire city if he was not released.

Suleimanname describes all the events, ports called, the fleet, the important characters in detail.
Another important work of the time is Tarih-i Sultan Bayezid (TPM, R. 1272)which describes and depicts the sea campaigns of the time. The physical details of the places, geography, vessels, sea wars were vividly shown in the miniatures.

miniature showing an ottoman campaignTypically, these works are a continuation of a style first used by Matrakci Nasuh (see also How to (correctly) interpret Ottoman Calligraphy) in his masterpiece Beyan-i Menazil-i Sefer-i Irakeyn (IUL, T. 5964). Matrakci, or the Joker, describes the places visited during the Iraqi campaign of Sultan Suleiman. His miniatures are figureless, like a topographic scenery with all the details given. Towns like Eskisehir, Diyarbakir and Tabriz are like topographic paintings with the all the important buildings. But maybe the most important of them all is the miniature of Istanbul, which is the oldest picture of the city that we know.

TPM: Topkapi Palace Museum
IUL: Library of Istanbul University
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Will the Ten Tribes Return?

book cover of preparation for the return of ten tribes

According to G.S. Faber, Master of Sherburn Hospital and Prebendary of Salisbury, they no doubt will, as he wrote this book, "The Predicted Downfall of the Turkish Power, the Preparation for the Return of the Ten Tribes", printed by Thomas Bosworth, 215 Regent Street, London (second edition).

For the uninitiated a quick summary may be helpful: The Ten Tribes were exiled during the First Temple Era - over 2,000 years ago, and have been separated from the rest of Jewry ever since. But ultimately, they will be redeemed, and join the rest of Jewry - at the time of Moshiach [].

I have almost no information about the subject, and certainly I am not a good point of reference as far as Biblical and Torah studies are concerned, but it looks like intriguing. Faber's book can be of value to those interested and/or collectors.

Dated 1853.
Estimated value: $ 275

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

L'Illustration Magazine of 1909

illustration magazine of 1909

Constitutional monarchy did not come easily. Sultans were usually against it, so were religious sects. Soldiers had to walk in the city (a rare event) to restore order, and L'Illustration, a popular magazine of the time, covered it in 1909. Its faith was doomed, though. Within five years the Ottoman Empire would engage in World War I, siding with the Germans; and ten years later, occupation forces would be patrolling in Istanbul.

I must add that if someone asked what I liked most in military parades, I would definitely say the cavalry. Irreplaceable!

Estimated value: $ 60

Monday, November 3, 2008

In the Sultan's Palace by David Nason

score sheet cover of in the sultans palace by David Nason

When it comes to score sheets, there was and probably still is one place in Turkey: Yuksek Kaldirim. In this steep road connecting Karakoy to Tunnel Beyoglu, reside the poor lit, dim stores to satisfy your hunger for music. Countless weekends of mine were spent inside them, searching, seeking the pieces we wanted to perform later.

David Nason's "In the Sultan's Palace" from Bernard Wagness Piano Series reminded me of those days. The publisher and/or distributor information reads as follows: Oliver Ditson Company, Theodore Presser Co. Distributors, 1712 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA.

Estimated value: $ 40

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Pearl of Istanbul

pearl of Istanbul

What could it be? For those who read the previous post Female Portraits in Western Art, the answer would be obvious. No ueber or super power has yet managed to stop an artist from seeing the beauty in human body.

Dated approximately 1880, Druck u. Verlag von A. Felgner in Berlin presents: Die Perle von Constantinopel, the Pearl of Istanbul, with all the elegance and grace she has to offer. The corner decorations and stars were applied to the engraving later.

Estimated value: $ 150

Friday, October 31, 2008

500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art

I normally do not do this but Philip Scott Johnson's video of "500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art" surely deserves credit. I have just seen and fell in love with it. Nominated also for the Most Creative Youtube Video of 2007, it traverses the history of art accompanied by Bach's Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 performed by Yo-Yo Ma. I'm sure you will all agree with me and accept my apologies for deviating from my usual topics.

Women In Art from Philip Scott Johnson on Vimeo

The Porter and His Donkey

porter and his donkey in Istanbul

I thought this picture of a porter and his donkey would be a nice post to close the month. As humanity we owe a lot to animals, we have taken so much and given back so little.

Many, like dogs, horses and donkeys, have been used as service animals, especially in the army. During those days the tradition was such that after the animal retired, it was sent to one of the public pastures where food was plenty. The animal would be marked (usually its ear) with the sultan's signature. The signature meant it had a free ride; it could go any garden, literally anywhere and could do whatever it fancied. If the owner of a place nearby had required compensation because of the animal, he would have gone to a kadi (read as judge) and reported it. The damages would be paid from the treasury. Deliberately hurting a marked animal meant death.

This donkey's faith is unknown to me but it surely had a tough life.

Estimated value: $ 30

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Beauty Queens of 1952

beauty queens of 1952

This got me wondering: is there a universal concept of beauty inherent to humans, or is it manufactured and marketed? I remember a test I took once. We were asked to choose which woman we liked most among 25 (I think), and I happened to pick the one from the time I was in my late teens. Does Rita Hayworth make today's generation feel like her own generation?

Sadi Gunel had his generation's ladies and published in 90 pages with 62 pictures. From the small print we understand that Miss Greece was popular then as he had especially mentioned the booklet contained her pictures.

Estimated value: $ 25

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hilye-i Serif by Kazasker Mustafa Izzed

hilye-i serif by kazasker mustafa izzedKazasker Mustafa Izzed (1801-1876) is another favorite Hilye-i Serif artist of mine. He lived during the reign of Sultan Abdulmecid. At the top, we see a miniature of Mecca and Madinah, rococo style. The circle in the middle describes Mohammad, and in the four corner spots around the circle, the names of four caliphs are written.

Dimensions: 58x39 cm.
Estimated value: $ 100,000

Halil Pasha's Mosque Street in Cairo

mosque street by Halil Pasha

Now, let us find out if any of our Egyptian friends will recognize this street with a mosque, by Halil Pasha (1857 - 1939). I have found his technique a bit odd. At first glance, I thought he painted it with crayon or something similar, but it is actually oil on cardboard.

Coming from a military family, Pasha followed the family tradition and finished the war academy. Military schools were one of the few places, possibly the only place, where painting classes were available. After graduating as a lieutenant in 1873, Abdulaziz, the sultan of the time, liked his style (I mean his painting, not his tactical abilities), ordered him to the palace. He was sent to Paris to further his art training in 1880, and worked with Gerome and Courtois. His portrait, "Madame X" was awarded in the opening ceremony of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Dimensions: 33x21.5 cm.
Estimated value: $ 20,000

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day of the Clowns

I have never thought I would add a journal to this blog, my intention was to keep it lean and mean: interesting items that caught my attention, information about them and articles about not so popular things about Turkish culture. However, our geography is rarely stable and you sometimes live by the day, planning for the future simply becomes impossible.

I had one of those weekends. A Turkish court decided to block access to a blog on a domain (which one I do not know) and the result was not so pleasant: ISPS restricted access to all and domains, ALL of them. Do not get me wrong, I neither blame nor dispute the court's decision. The Judge probably had no idea about what was going on and just acted upon the applicable law. But I will have a few things to say about this mockery of a governtment which passed the law as it was, knowing -they had been told- very well this would be the result.

You see, this government of clowns, with their faces painted in democratic colors is a bunch of ignorants who have very little notion of history and culture (they hardly read a book) and take fairy tales as facts, they are a crowd of get-goers with a belief system based on myths. Sadly, some, I really do not know why, believe them.I could make a list of the sites blocked by themand you would have a good idea what this was all about but posting has proved really difficult.

I have never had a problem accessing blogspot sites or any site for that matter, publishing will be difficult. I am checking on a few options suggested in Entrecard forums. Should you leave a comment, it might show up late due to moderation as I have to find a reliable and trusted way to log in first.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Marbled Inscription by Mehmed Sefik

marbled inscription by mehmed sefik
What sets apart this framed inscription by Mehmed Sefik (1819-1879) is its marbled border, which is an art form called "ebru". The colors truly shine after all these years. Styled with celi sulus (a calligraphic technique), it reads "Success is only possible with the help of God". Dated 1879.

Dimensions : 38x36 cm.
Estimated value: $ 11,000

Illustrations of Constantinople and Its Environs

Fisher illustrated book of Constantinople and its environs

Here is a book that old book enthusiasts (like me) will drool; I think this is the correct verb that describes my exact condition when I first saw it. A historical account of Istanbul and the scenery of the Seven Churches in Asia Minor plus the description of the plates were given by Rev. Robert Walsh. Both volumes (first one, 84 pages with 48 engravings, the second 100 pages with 49) were illustrated in drawings from nature by Thomas Allom. Printed by Fisher Son & Co., London & Paris, 1838.

Dimensions: 28.5x22 cm.
Estimated value: $ 4,500

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sarayburnu by Ibrahim Safi

painting of Sarayburnu by Ibrahim Safi

Ibrahim Safi (1898-1983) was one of those whom the war and revolution had flown from place to place. He was born in Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan and had his first education in Yerevan, Armenia. He then went to Moscow, to Fine Arts Academy but had to flee to Turkey after the Russian Revolution. He was really loved by people from diverse cultures and geographies, Turks, Russians, Armenians, Azeris, British, French, you name it. He was one of the most colorful people living in Beyoglu (Pera), Istanbul.

Here is a scenic view of Istanbul as seen from Sarayburnu, painted by him, oil on canvas. My biggest ambition when I see these paintings emerges from my subconscious immediately: take a picture of these places from the exact point of view of the painter. Every time, something happens and I delay this. Let us hope this blog helps and we all see how much progress (pun intended) we made.

Dimensions: 50x72 cm.
Estimated value: $ 14,000

Monday, October 20, 2008

Invitation Card of Ertugrul's Launch Ceremony

invitation to Ertugrul yacht

Ertugrul (this is the correct spelling) yacht was built for Sultan Abdulhamid II by Elswick Shipyard in Great Britain. Upon his wish, she was equipped with four 4.7 inch cannons (now, what do we call her, still a yacht?). The launch ceremony was held on Dec 30, 1903. Sadly, the Sultan never set foot on board her, and Madame Fortune had other plans in mind. She was ordered to transport ammunition in World War I to Dardanelles and only served its true purpose after the declaration of Turkish Republic, between 1925 and 1930 as a presidential yacht, hosting diplomatic visitors. She was lucky, though. Her ancestor by the same name, Ertugrul frigate had sunk near Yokohama, Japan on a friendly mission on Sep 16, 1890.

Estimated value: $ 1,200

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Russian Cigarette Box

Russian cigarette box enameled and gold plated
The Communist Revolution of 1917 in Russia brought many immigrants to Istanbul just like Paris and Vienna, the popular spots of the time. Some settled permanently and started a new life, some moved on to other destinations using Istanbul as a transit point. The ensuing dramas and happy endings are still waiting to be told but it generally is difficult to be an immigrant. My grand uncle's son married one of them, Tamara (it is also worth noting that two women by the same name - the second one is Georgian - had an important influence in our family); but her story will have to wait.

Apart from memories, they left countless items and memorabilia, not necessarily valuable but always sentimental. I can picture the owner of this enameled, low carat gold plated cigarette box of 1917 smoking and dreaming home with each puff, gazing the waters of the Bosporus, her eyes out of focus.

Estimated value: $ 275

Crossing Bosporus, on Foot

bosporus blocked by glaciers in winter of 1929

Here is a not so common old Istanbul picture. The winter of 1929 is still told by those who lived long enough to see the 21st century. It was terribly cold. If you polled the nation today, most would mistakenly report the event that Bosporus Strait had frozen then. Actually the reason was the glaciers from Black Sea that blocked it and made crossing it on foot possible. Dated 1 March 1929.

Estimated value: $ 35

Thursday, October 16, 2008

From the Moon with Love

astronauts letter to Turkish President
This is an interesting one. It is a mystery, at least to me, how this letter got out from the office of the President. Legally, this should be returned and/or seized by the government as it truly belongs to the state.

After their successful landing on the Moon with Apollo 11, the astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Aldrin had visited a few countries including Turkey. They later sent a letter thanking the then President Cevdet Sunay for the audience they were granted. With the NASA letterhead, dated 25 Oct 1969, the letter signed by the astronauts is clearly marked as addressed to the President, and I think, should be returned to the state archives but showed up in a 2008 auction.

Estimated value: $ 300

The Devil Has Been Defeated

Rejoice! The miracle drug has arrived.

This promo of Aspirin was so cute that I had difficulty in classifying it. A "holy cuteness" section perhaps? After the beating of the drum, a baritone voice announces that Aspirin has won the final battle against the devil, oh, and the dog is extremely happy. Late 19th century booklet of 28 pages in Turkish and in French.

Estimated value: $ 120

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tarot Cards with Ottoman Figures

tarot cards with ottoman figures
I have never been a believer of astrology, fortune telling or tarot, our subject. My aunt is a good fortune teller, or so people say, and always sees money and more money in my cup of Turkish coffee such that after she finishes the telling, people start looking at me, with expectations I guess. That feeling, people being extra nice, incredibly gentle and helpful, lasts for a few days and I enjoy it. So, whenever I have expectations from those around, I often ask my aunt to tell me what lies ahead. Since most of you will not be around (physically), I can tell you the truth: I am still poor. Yet, there is no reason not to try your luck with these cards, maybe Ottomans will help you. Be creative :-)

Estimated value: $ 120

Old Taximeters

taximeter of an Istanbul cab from 1930
The once Istanbul cabs were phenomenal. Usually American made, Chevrolets, Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Plymouths, Pontiacs, they all strolled across the city. And they had taximeters, but I have never seen them operating properly; most were long out of order and you had to negotiate the fare each and every time. This meter is from 1930's. Those cars made their owners richer when old car dealers discovered Istanbul had a plethora of vehicles with really, I mean really affordable prices. Same does not hold true for the owners of taximeters as you can look at the price tag of this one.

Estimated value: $ 120

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bayer Book Marker

book marker promoting Bayer's Helmitol
This one is fairly recent, possibly 1950's. A book marker of Bayer, the pharmaceutical company, promoting Helmitol, a drug for urinary sicknesses as explained in the red colored phrase to the left of Bayer's logo. Am I the only one who observes less and less companies use this method of promotion, maybe except publishers? Welcome to the digital revolution.

Estimated value: $ 40

Greek Musician

engraving of a greek musician

A souvenir from my online voyages: a lovely engraving of a Greek musician from Van Mour. Sadly, I did not take note of its date. Extraordinary attention was given to every detail, from hat to shoes, socks to vest, etc. I have a few more of these and will post them eventually.

Dimensions: 37x26 cm.
Estimated value: $ 400

Monday, October 6, 2008

Syria Ottoman Railway Company Share

preference share of syria ottoman railway company
If you asked me who were the most daring investors despite their appearance, I would definitely say the British. When it comes to risking their money in exotic and unheard places, no one can beat them. Here is a preference share of Syria Ottoman Railway Company Limited issued to the name of one Henry Drayson Pilcher of London. He had no problem throwing his 20 pounds away - assuming he had bought only one share - in a company operating in a geography that would soon be divided in such a way that its repercussions would still make one thing in the area nearly impossible: peace. Dated 1893.

Estimated value: $ 75

Italian Post Office

italian post office, izmir, turkey

I thought it would be nice to continue with the pictures of the past century that I had come across. Here, we see the Italian Post Office in Izmir Harbor, soon after the turn of the century. The photograph is a copy and artificially colored. I was unable to get the the exact date but I would take a guess and say it is from 1918, just after World War I.

Estimated Value: $ 60

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ceremonial Sword of Sultan Mehmed Resad

Where to draw the line? When is it a weapon to kill, when an instrument of perfect craftsmanship? The sword carries the signature of Mehmed V (1909-1918) at the hilt and we see "S.M.S. Mohammad Khan V" written underneath; also marked with the seal of War Academy. The green reptile skin is wired with gold.

Length: 96.5 cm
Estimated value: $ 75,000

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Golden Horn from Pierre Loti

golden horn by baruyr bardizbanyan

I like old Istanbul pictures, not because I am nostalgic or anything but because they show a less crowded, greener and calmer Istanbul, not spoiled by greed which turned it into cacophony of ugly buildings and structures that do not belong to the city or anywhere, as a matter of fact.

On this oil on fibreboard painting by Baruyr Bardizbanyan (1887-1932), we see a glimpse of Golden Horn as seen from Pierre Loti Hill. The name of the hill comes from the cafe dedicated to Pierre Loti (Louis Marie Julien Viaud, 1850-1923) whose nick was said to be given by Tahitians and was the name of an exotic flower. He first came to Istanbul as a navy officer in 1876 and wrote about the places he had been.

Dimensions: 36.5x50 cm.
Estimated Value: $ 5,000

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Istanbul, Karakoy; 100 Years Ago

Digital photography has killed many things, one being your imagination. Color photography killed the secrecy. What else left? Black and white photos always had a secret, a secret only for your eyes; a secret that would trigger your imagination and take you somewhere else, a personal destination of your own, that only you were invited.

Take a look at this bromide picture by Breger Freres, Paris, and let your imagination carry you away after it discloses your personal secret.

Estimated value: $ 100

Monday, September 15, 2008

Porcelain Plate with an Ottoman Woman Figure

ottoman woman figure on porcelain plate
A perfect seeker's challenge! This 19th century porcelain plate with a figure of Ottoman woman has been recently auctioned in Istanbul. The way she dressed, her necklace and earrings, the hat, her facial features strongly suggest that she modeled for the artist. I have been trying to find out who she was for the last couple of days with no luck, so far.

Diameter: 29 cm.
Estimated value: $ 400

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hilton 1956 New Year's Menu

flier cover of Hilton Hotels for new year of 1956
How about remembering good old days? This is the cover of the Hilton's flier for 1956 New Year's menu. Famous puppet theater character Karagoz is holding the baloons.

Apparently, it was before the age of advertising companies charging big bucks in the name of public relations as it is sweet and heartfelt. A rarity for the corporate world of today.

Estimated value: $ 60