It is not clear whether there were any sahafs (booksellers) among the experts in art and trade who settled in Constantinople after the city’s conquest to meet the demands of the people. In the early period of settlement in the city, sahafs not only experienced great difficulty in attaining books to sell, but also in finding customers to purchase books. Due to this, the history of the sahafs follows a pattern that runs parallel to the development of and settlement in the city and the establishment of educational institutes there.

Following the conquest of Constantinople, the Ottoman state began to transform itself into an empire. Because Mehmed II (r. 1451–1481) sought to transform Istanbul into the administrative center of a universal empire while also establishing it as a cultural center, shortly after the conquest of the city the sultan launched operations to redevelop the city. In the Turkish vakıfname (foundation records) of Mehmed II, this development is defined as the “great jihad.”1 Although Mehmed II sought to protect the city by preventing his soldiers from plundering it on the first day after their victory, the city still suffered a significant amount of damage.2 Even prior to the conquest, during the city had already been “a dead center of a dead empire.” There was therefore much to be done. The city walls were repaired, resettlement in the city was discussed, and many of the existing places of worship in the city were modified and transformed into mosques and madrasas.3 Records of the period provide detailed information on the reconstruction of the city and settlements in it.

One of the first cultural institutes established after the conquest was the Zeyrek Madrasa, which was established in the priests’ chambers on the top floor of the Pantokrator Monastery. Later, instruction began in Hagia Sophia, and until the establishment of the Semaniye Madrasas, most education took place in mosques and madrasas that had been converted from churches.

The complex Sultan Mehmed II wanted to build in Istanbul was only completed in December 1470, eight years after the beginning of its construction. Following the example set by Sultan Mehmed II, educational institutes were built by other statesmen, too, along the route from Divanyolu to Edirnekapı and in that broader vicinity. These formed the basis of the instructional and educational system and created a district where educational services were concentrated.4 As a result of this process, an area in which booksellers could operate was formed. In the sixteenth century, the book trade was concentrated in two main locations along this route: in Fatih, and in Beyazıt where the Kapalıçarşı (Grand Bazaar) is situated.

Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building of a bazaar complex between Mahmutpaşa and Beyazıt, referred to in sources as the Bezzazistan (cloth market) and Bedesten (covered bazaar where valuable goods are sold), in order to generate an income source for the waqfs he founded and to develop the commercial life of the city.5 The Bedesten included shops known as sandık and zaviye. Around the four gates of the Bedesten were bazaars comprising shops in which various tradesmen operated. Some of the sandıks and zaviyes in the Bedesten were reserved for sahafs.

First Records from the Early Period

The earliest record of the sahafs in the complex known today as the Grand Bazaar dates back to December 1519.6 Records documenting the income of the Hagia Sophia Waqf list the tenants and rental income from the shops in the Bezzazistan following repairs after the great fire of the period. They state that there were 140 sandıks7 and 20 zaviyes.8 Of these, one sandık belonged to the sahaf Edibi and another to the sahaf Alaaddin. It is also recorded that one of the zaviyes was in the hands of Hüsam.9 Edibi and Alaaddin paid a monthly rent of forty akçe, while Hüsam paid twenty-five. Below is another record regarding the rent paid by another zaviye tenant:10

, Hacı Üveys
, Twenty akçe
, Actual: three akçe
, Remainder: seventeen akçe

[Note accompanying the record] The shop was first rented to a person named Keşfi for three akçe, who later rented it to someone else for fifteen akçe. At the present time, the shop is rented to Hacı Üveys, as he agreed to a monthly rent of twenty akçe.

The person mentioned in this record was probably the famous poet Keşif from the era of Sultan Süleyman; he seems to have rented this shop to operate as a sahaf, to trade books. It appears that Keşfi was unable to continue his business as a sahaf for various reasons, and chose to earn a living by renting the shop to a third party.

1- The mandate to the qadi of Istanbul stating that Imam Abdullah Efendi who was  chosen by election was appointed to the office of the head of the secondhand  book dealers who had passed away (BOA, C.BLD, no. 146/7269)

According to these records, at the time of their writing, there were only three or four sahafs in the Bedesten. This is likely why they did not attract the attention of Hans Dernschwam, who provided an expressive description of the shops in the Bedesten, but did not mention any sahaf stores.11 However, the activities of the booksellers and traders must have been at a significant level, as they appear in one of the clauses of the Fatih Kanunname, the law code of Mehmed II, as follows: “The business of the bookbinders was quite good, and the sahafs did not sell books at a profit of more than ten [percent].”12

A revised version of the same regulation appears in a law code prepared during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent and reproduced during the period of Ahmed I (r. 1603–1617) as follows: “The work of the bookbinders must be supervised; taking into consideration expenses and workmanship for each completed book, they should deduct an amount for their income, but not exceed that limit. The sahafs should also be supervised; they must not earn more than ten [percent] for each book sold; if they do so, then necessary action should be taken.”13

2- Books (d’Ohsson)

As we learn from the tax records mentioned above, which are dated 926 (1519) and concerned with the Hagia Sophia Waqf, at the time these accounts were created there were also shops outside the Bedesten, but none of them were allocated to booksellers. Therefore, it would be an exaggeration to claim, as is frequently stated, that in its early days the Grand Bazaar was a booksellers’ bazaar. It is, however, important to note that the few bookseller shops in the Bedesten were located in the section where gold, silver, and other precious stones were sold.14 On the other hand, in the same record book, it is noted that some of the shops outside the Bedesten were rented to bookbinders. The heading of this section is entitled Cild Zanaatkârları (Bookbinding Craftsmen). As we can learn from this section concerned with the bookbinders, there were forty-two bookbinding shops, known as bab, in the bazaar at this time, seven of which were empty.15 The sahafs probably acquired an independent bazaar like the bookbinders at a later date. Similar to the situation in Bursa and Edirne, the number of booksellers during the early period in Istanbul was relatively low compared to that of bookbinders. The insufficient availability of books in these shops, as well as the high prices of those present, provoked madrasa students to acquire their books by copying/reproduction, which extended the scope of the activities of the bookbinders. Similar to those in Bursa and Edirne, during this period bookbinders in Istanbul did not only bind books but also sold necessary writing materials such as paper, ink, and pens.

In some other records pertaining to the late fifteenth century and the first half of the sixteenth century, we see that the location of the sahafs was referred to as the Bezzazistan (Bedesten).16 Ahmed Pasha, Sinan Pasha’s brother, mentioned the latter’s books in a letter of complaint he wrote to the sultan regarding Molla Lütfi (d. 1494); he states, “[Molla Lütfi] sold many things in my absence on a Friday. After talks and disputes in the presence of the qadi, he ruled that the books in the Bezzazistan should be kept safe and our dispute settled when order was established.”17 Some of the booksellers who lived during this period were mentioned in poet biographies. When Latîfî (d. 1585), one of the sixteenth-century biography writers, refers to the poet Likâyî, he indicates that the poet was a bookseller in the Bezzazistan.18 When Âşık Çelebi (d. 1572), another biography writer of the same period, writes about the handsome man the poet Âfitâbî was besotted with, he too mentions that he was a bookseller in the Bedesten.19 In the second half of the sixteenth century, in his work Reşehat, Muhyi-i Gülşeni also mentions the Bedesten as the place where the poets of that period gathered, specifically at the bookshop of one Mahvi-i Herevi.20

We learn from some of the records of the registers that there were other booksellers who lived in this period. In records about a court case held at the Balat Court, we discover the names Sahaf Abdi Çelebi, Sahaf Yunus, Sahaf Bedrettin b. Abdullah, and Sahaf Mustafa Çelebi among the list of witnesses.21 In the registries of the Üsküdar Court, Sahaf Muslî Çelebi b. Ahmed’s name is mentioned in connection with a debt claim.22 Among the witnesses in a deed of trust prepared in Ramadan 999 (July 1591), Sahaf Bedrettin Mahmud b. Abdullah’s name was also recorded.23 Sahaf Mustafa Çelebi b. Ahmed’s name was documented in records from the Rumelian Sublime Porte dated 8 Rabi’al-Awwal 1003 (21 November 1594).24

At some point, bookselling in Istanbul spread to the shops in the bazaar facing one of the entrances of the Bedesten, called the Bezzazistan-ı Atîk. Although it is impossible to accurately determine when, booksellers likely began to move to the area—running from the entrance of the Old Bedesten to Halıcılar Street—around the middle of the sixteenth century. Petrus Gyllius, who visited Istanbul in the middle of the sixteenth century, describes the location of the Theodosian Column, saying, “I discovered that it was erected close to the new Turkish baths constructed by Sultan Bayezid. Forty years before I came to Istanbul, Bayezid ordered the demolition of the column in order to construct the Turkish baths without difficulty. Beyond the Turkish baths, a wide road accommodating the bookshops extends toward the east and ends with the Sultan Bayezid tomb, mosque, and caravanserai.”25 According to his statement, by that time, the sahafs had increased in number to constitute a bazaar of their own and had congregated around that area. Another pertinent account is offered by Muhyi-i Gülşeni in the work mentioned above: “He said follow me; I walked through the Sahaflar Bazaar in the Bezzazistan from the Takyeciler Gate wearing a turban on my head and a long gown, through the Bit Bazaar (flea market), then through the Irğad Bazaar, Okçılar, and through the Kağıtcılar Bazaar close to Şeyh Vefa, and past the Gürânî Mosque, we reached the brother’s house.”26 Thus, we can discern that in the second half of the sixteenth century, the sahafs had acquired their own bazaar outside the Bedesten-i Atîk.

3- The bookseller Ahmed Efendi’s petition dated 18 August 1848 about opening a  book exhibition in the yard of Beyazıt Mosque (BOA, A. MKT, no. 144/38)

The fact that the book trade in Istanbul progressed significantly towards the end of the sixteenth century is evident in the account of Abu-l-Hasan al-Tamgruti, ambassador to Turkey between 1589 and 1591: “Many books can be found in Istanbul; the libraries and bazaars are overcrowded with books, and books from all over the world are brought to Istanbul.”27 Busbecq, who came to Istanbul as ambassador during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent, provides the following information regarding the books he took back to Vienna: “I brought a significant amount of old coins, most of which I will present to His Majesty. Additionally, I sent if not a ship load, then a wagon load of ancient Greek manuscripts and around 240 books by sea to Venice. They will be transported to Vienna to be placed in the king’s library.”28

The significance of the numbers of books Busbecq took back to Vienna can be better understood if we take into consideration that even the libraries established by the sultans and viziers contained only a couple of hundred of books. It is also known that the French Orientalist Guillaume Postel, who was in Istanbul between 1534 and 1537 and between 1549 and 1550, returned to his country with a considerable number of manuscripts.29

4- The decision of the cabinet dated 17 April 1906 about demolishing all the barracks founded in the yards of the mosques especially in the yards of Fatih and Yeni Mosques except the ones selling prayer beads and books (BOA, MV, no. 113/43)

Polish Simeon, who visited Istanbul in 1608, also confirms that the sahafs were located in a street outside the Bedesten-i Atîk by this time: “At the third gate of the Bedesten there were quilt makers, booksellers, silversmiths, and various other shops.”30 Hazarfen Hüseyin Efendi’s account relates, that “In the center of the city, there were two eight-domed bezzezistan buildings … the shops of the craftsmen around the Bezzezistan are listed in sequence …. The craftsmen shops are as follows, and recorded according to the alphabetical order of the craftsmen: … The letter S: sandalcılar [material sellers], sorguçcular [crest makers], sandukçular [chest makers] sırmakeşler [silver-thread makers], sahaflar ….”31 This account confirms that towards the end of the seventeenth century, a significant number of booksellers were established in shops that stood opposite one of the Bezzezistan gates; Evliya Çelebi referred to this gate as the Sahaflar Gate.32

Sahafs, the Book Trade, and Memoirs of Travelers in the Seventeenth Century

In the seventeenth century, the book trade in Istanbul expanded immensely. Valuable manuscripts were brought from various regions of the Islamic world to be sold by the sahafs in and out of the Bedesten. In his autobiography, Katip Çelebi (d. 1657) referred to it as “all the books the booksellers brought here over the last twenty years.”33

As a consequence of the interest in the Arab and Islamic world that began with the Renaissance and increased since then, many Westerners came to Istanbul to acquire books. In addition, some embassy members took a significant number of books with them back to their home countries. Both of these factors contributed greatly to the development of the book trade in Istanbul.34 Jacobus Golius (1596–1667) and Levinus Warner (1619–1665) also provide interesting documents of purchases they made from booksellers in Istanbul; these books were used to create the basis for the Oriental collection in Leiden University.35 It is known that throughout the seventeenth century, many Western Orientalists, such as Greaves, Pococke, Ravius, Colbert, and Erpenius, collected significant numbers of manuscripts for the libraries in their home countries, transporting these books to those places through commercial establishments such as the Levant Company. A. Galland, who came to Istanbul with the French ambassador Marquis de Nointel, provides information regarding the books he came across or purchased in his diary, dated 1672–1673.36 Galland mentions more than a hundred books he saw.37 Whereas Galland personally visited the Bedesten to purchase some of these books, the majority of them were brought to him by the booksellers.38

It appears that such activities by the Europeans reached disturbing levels, such that by the beginning of the eighteenth century, Grand Vizier Şehid Ali Pasha, who was himself a renowned book collector, got Sultan Ahmed III to pass a law banning the sale of boos to foreigners. The law included a phrase that referred to booksellers as follows: “Due to the greed of Istanbul sahafs, countless valuable books have been sent to distant regions, even to countries outside Ottoman territory.”39 Thus, we can deduce that the relationship between the Europeans and the sahafs had reached an outstanding level. However, book sales to the West did not cease with the passing of this law; on the contrary, in the following centuries sales continued at increasing rates. These books were generally sold surreptitiously and, as we discover from letters and published memoirs, some Turkish subjects in connection with foreigners, members of foreign missions, and minorities who worked with these missions assisted foreigners in purchasing books.40

In certain sources and travel books, we find conflicting information about the sales of books to foreigners. As is evident from the examples given above, prior to the law banning the sales of books to foreigners introduced during the reign of Ahmed III (1703–1730), foreign subjects could easily purchase books from booksellers with the exception of the Qur’an and religious books. In a letter written to his friend Turner, the Orientalist Greaves, who came to Istanbul in 1637 in hope of finding and buying ancient Greek works, explained that he had not had the good fortune to find these Greek manuscripts, but that, regardless of the risk this entailed, he had purchased some Turkish and Arabic books. He added that he had generally been cheated by the Jews who assisted him, and that on a few occasions he had personally visited the shops that sold these kinds of books.41 In a letter dated 14 June 1639, Greaves offered the following advice to his friend Dr. Pococke, who had visited Istanbul to purchase certain manuscripts: “In addition to the assistance you will obtain from your friends in Galata, you can personally travel over to the other side of the city by sea and visit the Bazaar and other shops. There is no risk as long as you do not purchase books on religious topics.”42

However, it is difficult to generalize on this subject. While Westerners such as Pococke43 and Galland were successful in establishing a relationship with the booksellers and buying books,44 there were also travelers who failed in this respect. This was mostly because of communication problems rather than the ban on book sales to foreigners.45 The reports of George Wheler, who came to Istanbul in 1675 with Dr. Spon, support this view:

5- The entrance of the second-hand book dealers’ bazaar from the side of grand    bazaar

Mr. Watson, a Scottish man, told us that there was a bazaar in Istanbul that sold manuscripts written in languages such as Turkish, Arabic and Persian. However, he also added that it was dangerous for Christians to walk around this bazaar. Nevertheless, as Dr. Spon passed by the bazaar he saw some Arabic manuscripts, and wanted to buy them with a good bargain to buy them at a lower price. However, he was called an infidel by the shop owner and chased out of the shop, which disturbed him.46

Although the numbers of sahafs in the Sahaflar Bazaar in the seventeenth century may not have reached the exaggerated figure of three hundred given by Evliya Çelebi, it is likely that the number of booksellers had increased somewhat. In documents pertaining to the eighteenth century, the bazaar which led from one of the gates of the Bedesten where the sahafs were located was referred to as the Sahaflar Sûku, in other words as the Sahaflar Bazaar. In one of the epic poems describing the Bedesten, these gates and the tradesmen are portrayed in the following way:

The Bedesten has four gates
One that is occupied by booksellers
Another by the cap sellers
Its shops are always full
At one gate, the cup makers
Surrounding them, the rope makers
At one gate, the jewelry shops
While the sherbet sellers roam around47

However, some sahafs chose not to move to the newly established bazaar, but rather continued their commercial activities in the Bedesten.48 A. Galland, who had established good relations with the booksellers, records following information about the Bedesten in an entry dated 14 September 1672 from his 1672–1673 diary: “From here, His Excellency came to the Bedesten, a relatively small square domed building; located here were also traders of gold bars and bookshops.”49

More detailed records are found in a French source:

This is where jewelers and sellers of precious gems, embroidered cloth, and many other valuable commodities display their goods. This place is enclosed by walls and comprises two main market streets, six feet wide; it has four gates symmetrically facing each other, and there is a large dome where these streets join. These streets are domed and the large dome rests on twenty columns. There are many small shops between the walls and columns; these are six feet wide and four feet deep, and resemble a closet; and there is a small table in front of these shops on which goods can be displayed.50

6- Beyazıd second-hand book dealers’ bazaar (IRHM)

As we can understand from Galland’s account above, at the end of the seventeenth century, some of the sahafs were still operating within the Bedesten. In his letter dating 14 June 1639, the English Orientalist Greaves advised his friend Pococke to visit the bazaar and shops to purchase written manuscripts. The letter makes it clear that some of the sahafs were located in shops inside the Bedesten, while others were outside the Bedesten.51 Otherwise, it would have been quite difficult for the sixty bookshops and three hundred booksellers in Evliya Çelebi’s slightly exaggerated account to have been located in this relatively small building. A record from the Hagia Sophia Waqf, dated 1151 (1738), mentions “a bookshop for a monthly rental of twelve akçes and three puls [a coin the value of one-third of an akçe]” in the Bezzazistan-ı Atîk. This shows that some of the shops owned by the Hagia Sophia Waqf continued to operate as bookshops at a much later date.52 The Spanish traveler Ali Bey (Domingo Bedia y Leblich), who came to Istanbul at the beginning of the nineteenth century, relates that he saw some bookshops when he visited the Bezzazistan; thus indicating that the sahafs in the Bedesten continued to operate in the bazaar up until that period.53 However, by that time, the majority of the sahafs were located in the Sahaflar Bazaar outside the Bedesten. As booksellers are mentioned in an epic poem about the traders in the Grand Bazaar, we can assume that their trade activities in the bazaar were quite high:

When I arrived, I searched for the sahafs
I had nothing to say to the tradesmen
In need of shoes and footwear
I wandered towards the shoemakers54

The sahafs in the Bedesten carried out their commercial activities in locations called dolap (market stalls), which were described by Hans Dernschwam, who came to Istanbul during the reign of Sultan Süleyman (1520–1566), as follows: “attractive wooden stands that were about one to one-and-a-half yards high and two yards wide.”55 When the sahafs moved to the bazaar outside the Bedesten, they finally were able to attain their own independent shops; they remained in this bazaar for a long time, up until an earthquake in 1894. As mentioned above, in addition to the shops in this bazaar, there were also market stalls. The sahafs remained in the Hakkaklar Bazaar, to which they had initially moved after the earthquake; they continued to operate their businesses from this location. René du Parquet, who came to Istanbul in 1864, relates that the Sahaflar Bazaar was unattractive.56 The American missionary Henry Dwight, who was present in Istanbul at the end of the nineteenth century, described the shops in the Sahaflar Bazaar as being small and non-functional, and the bazaar itself as “a long arched street next to the slipper merchants.” He added that the books were stacked on shelves, and unlike in the West, where it was easy to find titles of books, the booksellers wrote the names of the books on the sides of the books, which were stacked with the spine of the book towards the wall.57

As these shops were defined in documents as kepenk or lock-ups, they must have been relatively small. Information regarding the internal design of these shops is quite limited. Among the travelers, only C. White addressed this subject. According to White, compared with other shops, the sahafs’ quarters were inconspicuous. Their doors were open to everyone. Books were stacked laterally on shelves or in spaces between columns behind the sahafs, who sat on cushions. These shops were not appealing to people.58

The Book Trade in and around Fatih Mosque

In addition to Istanbul’s Bedesten and Sahaflar Bazaar, another area where booksellers were located in Istanbul was the courtyard and surroundings of Fatih Mosque. Book trade on a small scale presumably began in the courtyard of the mosque to meet the students’ book demands after teaching was introduced in the Fatih madrasas. However, there is no documentation regarding the early stages of book trade in this area. In the sixteenth century, the biographer Âşık Çelebi relates that the poet Zeynî opened a bookshop in the Karaman Bazaar near Fatih and became wealthy.59 When the books of Şehid Ali Pasha (d. 1716) were seized at the beginning of the eighteenth century, some were later sold off in courtyard of the Fatih Mosque. The imperial decree issued by Ahmed III on the matter states, “Issue enough books to be sold in one day at their true value. After these books have been issued they should be placed in a chest by you and sealed in the evening either at Bezzazistan or at the mosque; ensure that this seal is not broken [and that] no change is made.”60

As the book auctions continued in the courtyard of the Fatih Mosque in later periods, it is clear that a group of traders engaged in book commerce remained in this area. As stated in an edict dated 25 Safar 1191 (4 April 1777) regulating the business of the sahafs: “If all the books are not sold in a short period of time, they may be auctioned to existing customers and to sahafs outside the courtyard of the mosque of the late Sultan Mehmed Han.” This indicates that for a long period the book trade continued in the courtyard of Fatih Mosque.61 As the outbuildings of the mosque were used to safeguard the books sold at auctions here, a certain fee was given to the mosque wardens and the chief warden. As we learn from a record dated at the end of Rabi’al-awwal 1093 (April 1682),62 the wardens were given 360 akçe “for the book sold at the mosque” by the former qadi of Filibe, Imamzade Mehmed Sadi Efendi; whereas a record dating 22 Muharram 1146 (5 July 1733) states that when the books of the late el-Hac Mehmed Efendi were auctioned in the courtyard of Fatih Mosque, four kuruş was paid to the “chief warden of Fatih Mosque for the safekeeping of the books.”63 In a document dated 23 Şevval 1173 (8 June 1760), it is mentioned that a “certain payment was made to mosque wardens for safekeeping books for four days in Fatih Mosque.”64 It is stated that the wardens of Fatih Mosque were given 2,400 akçes for the auction of books from the inheritance of Sheikh Ismail Efendi.65 In a document dated 23 Safar 1193 (12 March 1779), a fee “given to the wardens for a book auction in Fatih Mosque” is mentioned.66 In two documents dated 5 Dhu al-Qi’dah 1215 (20 March 1801) and Jumada al-Thani 1216 (October 1801), books sold “in the courtyard of Fatih Mosque” are mentioned.67 We can understand from all of these examples that book auctions were occasionally held in the courtyard of Fatih Mosque.

However, as foreigners, and in particular A. Galland, did not mention the book trade in and around Fatih Mosque, this indicates that the books sold here consisted of classic works regarding religious sciences and textbooks demanded by madrasa students. The book trade in the courtyard of Fatih Mosque continued until the twentieth century. When the American missionary H. G. Dwight, who was present in Istanbul in 1908, mentions the book guard of Feyzullah Efendi Library, he claims that instead of opening the library, the warden spent most of his time at the bookshop in the courtyard of Fatih Mosque.68 At the beginning of the twentieth century, the sahafs exhibited books during the month of Ramadan at Beyazıt Mosque and in the courtyard of Fatih Mosque. Necip Âsım related this in the following words:

These sahafs were once wealthy. They held exhibitions at Bayezit and Fatih Mosques during Ramadan and sold a variety of books. Grand viziers, viziers, and those interested in knowledge and sciences came and shopped here. As far as I know, Ahmed Vefik Pasha, Said Pasha, and Rıza Pasha all frequented these events. The sahafs not only displayed books, but every evening they would take a pile of books and visit the wealthy booklovers in their mansions.69

Although some of the sahafs in Istanbul were affected by the fires that broke out in the Grand Bazaar,70 they continued operating there until the 1894 earthquake.71 The census of traders held at the beginning of Dhul-Qadah 1207 (10 June 1793) confirms that there were paper sellers, pen scribes, and gilders among the tradesmen operating “in the courtyards inside and outside Sultan Bayezid Mosque and its surroundings.” However, there is no mention of bookshops.72 In view of this, it appears that during this period all of the sahafs in the area undertook their book commercial activities in the Bedesten or in the Sahaflar Bazaar in the Grand Bazaar.

Other Locations of the Sahafs: the Hakkaklar Bazaar and Grand Bazaar

There are a few documents that indicate that sahafs, although few in number, operated in areas outside the Grand Bazaar as well as in the Hakkaklar Bazaar from the middle of the nineteenth century. For example, Sahaf Hasan Efendi b. Abdullah was operating under the Muhsinoğlu Han in Hocapaşa.73 Sahaf Ahmed Efendi b. Mustafa also conducted business, not in one of the shops inside the Sahaflar Bazaar, but from a “room in the upper levels in the Istanbul Ağası Han in the Çârşû-yı Kebîr [Grand Bazaar].”74 In an inheritance record dated 1301 (1883), an individual named Ahmed Efendi is mentioned as “a sahaf in the Hakkaklar Bazaar close to Sultan Bayezid Mosque.”75 When a bookshop was recorded in a register dated 1309 (1892), it was referred to as “a shop in the Hakkaklar Bazaar.”76 The shops of Bekir Efendi, Ahmed Efendi, and Içelli Mehmed Efendi, who were sahafs in the Hakkaklar Bazaar, were mentioned in newspapers and journals dated between 1282 and 1291 (1865 and 1874). The Sahaflar Şirketi (Booksellers Company) also owned a shop in the Hakkaklar Bazaar before the earthquake.

The numbers of sahafs operating in the Grand Bazaar before the earthquake was probably around forty. As we learn from a document dated 30 Dhul-Qadah 1310 (14 July 1893), when “an Armenian named Aydala,” who had no trading permit, rented a shop in the Sahaflar Bazaar and began to sell religious books and participated in book auctions, the traders in the bazaar protested and, under the leadership of the chamberlains, they appealed to the Meşihat (the office of the Ottoman Sheikh al-Islam) to have him removed from the bazaar. The document prepared on this matter was signed by twenty-seven sahafs and seven auctioneers. We may assume that a majority of the sahafs joined this movement headed by the chamberlains. This document reveals the names of sahafs operating in the bazaar just before the earthquake.77

7- The schema of Grand Bazaar which also contains the second-hand book dealers’ bazaar

How Today’s Sahaflar Bazaar Became the Permanent Sahaf Location

After the earthquake, the sahafs in the bazaar were “permitted to place a locker each in the existing space on the side of the tomb of the Bayezid Mosque and trade from here.” Thus, the sahafs moved to this location temporarily and continued operating there. In his article entitled “Kitapçılık” (book-trade), Necip Asım speaks of the subject as follows: “In fact, even while the bazaar was closed because of the earthquake in Istanbul, the sahafs were not left jobless. They established a sahaf bazaar with huts at the place of entertainment in front of Sultan Bayezid’s Tomb; this area is presently occupied by restaurants and coffee-shops.”78 However, when the fez traders in this area, known as the Hakkaklar Bazaar, later moved to the Grand Bazaar, the Hakkaklar Bazaar was left to the sahafs and became their permanent location.

Some of the sahafs returned to their old shops when the Grand Bazaar was restored. This is evident in an article written by the Ministry of the Gendarmerie dated 21 Kanun al-Awwal 1315 (February 1900), which states that the Russia’s former minister of the interior visited the sahaf shops in the Çârşû-yı Kebîr (Grand Bazaar).79 Likewise in a letter dated Rabi al-Awwal 1332 (6 March 1914) written to the Ministry of Education by the Imperial Museum (Müze-i Hümayun) the “Sahaf Bazaar and Bedesten, and the long streets of traders” were mentioned.80 This indicates that some of the sahafs had returned and continued to operate from their shops in the Grand Bazaar after its post-earthquake renovation. Until the 1990s, one of the streets in the Grand Bazaar was known as the “Sahaflar Bazaar Street.”81

The Spread of Printed Books and the Transition from Sahaf to Kitapçı

Until the end of the eighteenth century, sahaflık (bookselling) was conducted in its traditional form, which is to say that it consisted of buying and selling manuscripts. A majority of the sahaf business was carried out in Istanbul. However, the nineteenth century was a period in which bookselling went through significant changes. The penetration of printed books into the book market, reforms in the education system, the opening of new schools, increasing literacy rates, and the literary tastes of the new emerging reading masses were all factors that caused the bookselling vocation to change; and as such, sahafs initially became booksellers and then publishers. Sahafs were confronted with the demands of a new reading public, one coming into being in the provinces in parallel with the spread of the education system to the countryside in the second half of the nineteenth century. To cater to the growing number of readers, kitapçıs, booksellers who sold books printed and published in Istanbul, arose in numerous cities.

Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, with a few exceptions,82 the word sahaf was used only for tradesmen that bought and sold manuscripts. As a result of the increasing availability and interest in printed books toward the middle of the nineteenth century, the demand for printed books increased and some of the sahafs began to sell them. Still, this was a slow process. After a while, the situation began to change, and books printed at the Müteferrika, Üsküdar, Mühendishane printing houses began to occupy a prominent place in sahaf shops.83 Printed books gradually began to play an important role in the book trade, and the booksellers who sold these works continued to be referred to as sahafs for a long period. Thus, the words sahaf and kitapçı were used interchangeably. In a document dated 18 Ramadan 1264 (18 August 1848), Ahmed Rüşdî Efendi, who sold books printed in the Takvimhane-i Amire (the printing house established to print the Ottoman official gazette), was referred to as Sahhaf Ahmed Rüşdi Efendi.84 However, in the same document, Rüşdi Efendi also referred to himself as Kitapçı Ahmed Rüşdi. Ahmed Rüşdi Efendi was the owner of a shop in the Sahaflar Bazaar. In another document dated 1279 (1862), Rüşdi Efendi, presumably the same one, is mentioned as having been “appointed as sahaf to the Tab‘hâne-i Amire [imperial printing house].”85 Thus, it is apparent that during this period the term sahaf was used for both those who sold manuscripts and those who sold printed books.86

As a result of the liberties the Second Constitutional era generated in the domain of publications, a significant volume of books began to be published. The limited number of sahaf shops were unable to provide an adequate distribution network for the growing number of books, and a number of other players entered the book trade in addition to the booksellers and sahafs in the Sahaflar and Hakkaklar Bazaars.87 Stationers, bookbinders, tobacconists, water sellers, artists, tea sellers, spoon makers, musk-oil shops, newspaper sellers, and coffee shops all began to sell books.88 This is explicitly evident in the advertisements given in newspapers and journals regarding the publication of some books.89

While some of the sahaf shops in the Hakkaklar Bazaar and the Sahaflar Bazaar in the Grand Bazaar90 sold printed books, booksellers that exclusively sold printed books also began to spread out into the commercial buildings around the Grand Bazaar and towards the Sublime Porte. According to Selim Nüzhet Gerçek’s estimate, in 1908, in addition to the fifty-two sahaf stores in the Hakkaklar Bazaar and seventeen sahaf stores in the Bedesten, there were also thirty-five bookshops in and around the Sublime Porte area and twenty in various areas of Beyazıt.91 Ahmad Rasim states that a few of the bookshops in Beyazıt were in the Mürekkepçiler Bazaar, while others were concentrated behind the Bedesten.92 Bookseller huts were also found in the courtyards of Fatih Mosque, Yeni Mosque, and many of the other large mosques.93

The Beginning of the Distinction between the Sahaf and Kitapçı

Although the words sahaf and kitapçı were used interchangeably during this period, a distinction began to appear in documents towards the middle of the nineteenth century. In a document dated 24 Jumaada Awal 1258 (2 August 1842), describes the rent paid by Sahaf Osman Efendi b. Hüseyin for two shops, one in the Vezir Han, and the other in the Sahaflar Bazaar. The former is described as “the rent of the kitapçı,” while the second is described as “the rent of the sahaf.”94 Therefore, it can be concluded that while the tradesmen in the Hakkaklar Bazaar in the middle of the nineteenth century continued to be known as sahafs, those who spread out to other areas of the city began to be called kitapçıs. One of the best examples of this distinction can be found on the sign of one of the kitapçı shops outside the Bab al-Salam gate of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. When the owner of this shop, who had previously been a sahaf, began to sell printed manuscripts, he cited this on the sign of his shops in the following words: “Maktaba95 sabikan sahaf” (kitapçı, formally sahaf).96 This distinction is also clear in a record from the Bâb Mahkemesi (court under the jurisdiction of a qadi) dated 28 Safar 1313 (20 August 1895): “In view of the account of sahhaf tradesmen İsmail Efendi b. İbrahim and Münif Ağa b. Sadık … [and that of] the kitapçı tradesman Ali Efendi b. Tahir ….”97 Yet, using these names as two separate titles did not turn into a general practice,98 and until the last decades of the Ottoman Empire, shop owners selling printed books were still called sahaf, though some did not object to being called kitapçı either.99 In fact, while the occupation of being a sahaf belonged mostly to Muslims, in some records the word sahaf was used even for foreign booksellers.100

Sahafs Selling Printed Religious Books and the Change in the Sahaf Profile

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, vast numbers of printed religious books were appearing in sahaf shops. Sahaf Hafiz Süleyman Efendi, a sahaf who concentrated on the trade of Qur’anic mushaf (codex),101 had the following number of books in his store: twenty Birgivî and Commentary, nineteen Commentary of Amentu, and sixty-eight juz (Qur’anic sections) of Amma and Alif-Ba.102 As printed books became more popular and profitable, some sahafs began to engage in the publishing and wholesale selling of printed books. El-Hac Hüseyin Ağa b. Ömer, whose assets were calculated on 10 Şevval 1257 (25 November 1841), was one of the sahafs that began selling books wholesale and earned a significant amount of money from this trade; his wealth totaled 104,121 kuruş. He had two cariye (concubines), two gulam (male slaves), and a 6,000-kuruş share in a ship. Among his assets were hundreds of copies of six books that he traded wholesale: he had 156 copies of Muhammediye Şerhi, 238 of Divan-ı Vehbi, 72 of Hümayunname, 123 of Ali Efendi Fetvası, 133 copies of Tarih-i Ebu Necib, and 103 copies of Tarih-i Ebu Ali Sina. Hüseyin Agha must have been trading books wholesale outside of Istanbul, as apparent from the fact that İbrahim Efendi from Rize owed him 4,705 kuruş and el-Hac Hüseyin Agha from Damascus owed him 10,350 kuruş.103 The fact that Sahaf Geredeli Ali Efendi owed 4,371 kuruş to the merchant Yasef from the Ceride Printing House leads us to think he must have been another of the sahafs who had books published.104

In the middle of the nineteenth century, we can see an increase in the numbers of sahafs who chose to trade in printed books. When Sahaf el-Hac Ali Efendi died, he owned hundreds of copies of folktales as well as textbooks he sold. Some of these books were ecza, that is to say, unbounded. It appears that Ali Efendi would bind and sell these books on demand, at the request of his customers. The money owed to Ali Efendi by some of the sahafs was probably for books he published.105 Sahaf Seyyid el- Hac Hasan Efendi was also a sahaf engaged in the trade of printed books. In his tereke (inheritance document), dated 7 Rajab 1271 (26 March 1855), the 1,366-kuruş debt “owed to him by Hüseyin Efendi’s book company” is mentioned. Sahaf Süleyman Efendi also owed him 500 kuruş. There were between three hundred and one thousand copies of some printed books in his shop. As the wife of Sahaf Seyyid el-Hâc Hasan Efendi appealed to the court after his death to claim 8,510 kuruş he was owed by Mehmed Efendi b. Mehmed of Damascus, the former must have been selling books to sahafs outside Istanbul.106 As his capital was insufficient, Sahaf Hasan Efendi borrowed money from many people. Among these debts, those which stand out are a debt of 9,721 kuruş to Sahaf Halil Efendi, 1,254 kuruş to Kağıtçı Ismail Efendi, and 3,598 kuruş to the newspaper publisher William Churchill.107

We see that Sahaf Karahisarî Ali Rıza Efendi’s son Mehmed Sadeddin Efendi, who died on 17 Muharram 1294 (1 February 1877) developed the wholesale book trade business considerably. Mehmed Sadeddin Efendi distributed forty-eight different books. A majority of these books were those published by his father and later by himself. In addition to religious books, there were also many books of history, literature, and folktales in his shop. Among the most popular of these books, there were three hundred copies of Aşık Garib Hikayesi, two hundred copies of Kara Davud and three hundred copies of Yıldızname.108 Mehmed Sadeddin Efendi owned 210,025 kuruş, a substantial amount of wealth for that period, which indicates that he was extremely successful in the book trade. He was also the brother of Sahaf İbrahim Lami and Karahisarizade Seyyid Mustafa Esad Efendi, one of the wealthiest sahafs of that period; the latter died on 24 Şaban 1309 (24 March 1892), and will be referred to below.

Another of the sahafs that engaged in the wholesale book trade was el-Hac Nuri Efendi b. Ömer. Some of the 4,252 books listed in his tereke, dated 14 Şevval 1313 (29 March 1896)109 were unbound. In Nuri Efendi’s shop, there were 505 copies of Tercüme-i Mirkat, 380 of Hüdayi Divanı, 580 of Keşkül, 1,028 of Münşeat-ı Aziziye and 1,000 copies of Habname-i Veysi. Although he was one of the leading booksellers, Nuri Efendi’s assets were remarkably low. The first thing that comes to mind is that such books did not attain their true value at the auctions due to low demand. According to the sale figures, the sale price of Münşeat-ı Aziziye was 2.4 kuruş, Hüdayi Divanı 1.5 kuruş, and Habname-i Veysî 0.05 kuruş. The sale price of Şefîk-name and el-Münkızü mine’d-dalal, which were sold as bound volumes, were respectively 1.27 and 0.05 kuruş. The country’s economic situation at the time must have contributed to these figures. The tereke, dated 20 Dhul-Qadah 1320 (18 February 1903), of Bosnevi el-Hac Muharrem Efendi b. Osman, who was also engaged in the wholesale book trade, reveals a similar picture.110 In Muharrem Efendi’s shop there were between 100 and 1,500 copies of forty to fifty different books. With the exception of certain religious books and textbooks, the rest were sold at relatively low prices. Sahaf Bosnevi el-Hac Muharrem Efendi also owned a printing house and his books were placed in his shop, which was in an unidentified location, rather than in a shop in the Sahaflar or Hakkaklar Bazaars.

We see that some of the sahafs concentrated their business more on textbooks and on books that people showed an interest in. There were between twenty and fifty copies of the hundreds of different books in Sahaf Ahmed Efendi b. Mustafa’s shop.111 In addition to other books, in Sahaf Mustafa Efendi b. Abdullah’s shop there were 920 copies of İbn Akil and 135 copies of Adalı, both books on Arabic grammar.112 A majority of Hüseyin Hilmi Efendi b. Kürtoğlu Abdullah’s books consisted of printed textbooks. There were 362 copies of Kavaid-i Farisi, 313 of Kavaid-i Sarfiyye, 828 of Şurut-ı Salat, and 439 copies of Ta‘limü’l-evzan.113 In addition to other printed books, in the shop of Sahaf el-Hâc Ömer Efendi b. Ömer, the imam of the Kasab Ivaz district, 1,000 copies of Baytarname, 70 copies of Kısas-ı Enbiyâ and 176 copies of Hediyyetü’l-kudat could be found.114

As we discover from a tereke dated 23 Jumaada al-Akhir 1309 (24 January 1892), in addition to selling books, Sahaf Hafız Ahmed Efendi was also engaged in printing. Indeed, we discover a record in his tereke stating that there were “seven printing plates for books: 1,442 kuruş.” There were up to 2,000 copies of some books in Ahmed Efendi’s shop in the Hakkaklar Bazaar. For example, there were 2,090 copies of Dürr-i Yekta with diacritical marks, 960 of Mecmuatü’l-mühendisin, 631 of Telhis Metni, 1,495 Tuhfe-i Vehbî, and 1,200 copies of the Eyyühe’l-veled commentary.115 Sahaf Karahisarîzade Seyyid Mustafa Esad Efendi, who died on 24 Şaban 1309 (24 March 1892), owned a printing house opposite his home in the Molla Gürani district. In addition to the hundreds of copies of many books in his tereke, there were also a printing press and printing plates. In addition to the books he published, Mustafa Esad Efendi also engaged in the wholesale of certain history books: “Printed Tarih-i Raşid, batch 363: 5,124 kuruş; Printed Tarih-i Raşid, unbound volumes, 150: 300 kuruş; Printed unbound Tarih-i Raşid, batch 95: 1,420 kuruş; Printed Tarih-i Ali, batch 324: 3,240 kuruş; Printed Tarih-i Taberi, batch 780: 15,600 kuruş.” Mustafa Esad Efendi had assets totaling 795,343 kuruş earned from the book trade; this was a significant amount for that period.116

The books discovered in the shop in the Hakkaklar Bazaar owned by Sahaf el-Hâc Mehmed Efendi, imam of Küçük Hacı Mosque, who died on 6 Zilhicce 1327 (19 December 1909), indicate that from the beginning of the twentieth century, printed books had almost entirely taken over the book market. Although there were some manuscripts, the majority of the books in Mehmed Efendi’s shop were printed ones, and there were many copies of these books.117

One aspect stands out in the publication policies of sahafs who later became booksellers (kitapçı). The books that a majority of these sahaf-kitapçıs published in the first half of the nineteenth century are consistent with the conventional characteristics of their trade. In addition to books related to religious sciences, which they had sold for centuries, they published books that targeted the interest of the public and, although very few, some historical texts. Among the books they published, there were very few, if any, poetry or fiction books, plays, or novels. For a time, they even refused to sell such books printed by other publishers. These kinds of books reached their audiences through kitapçıs in other areas and members of other professions. However, the new readership that emerged due to the spread of education forced the sahafs-kitapçıs to change their publication policies.

kitapçıs in Galata and Pera, and the Circulation of Books in Foreign Languages

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the bookshops engaged in selling printed books had begun to spread out from the area around the Sublime Porte to other areas of the city. As the newspapers of that period mention “various sahafs and kitapçıs in Beyoğlu, Galata, and Üsküdar,” the numbers of traders engaged in the bookselling business must have increased significantly.118 Almost all of the bookshops in Galata and Pera (Beyoğlu) were run by non-Muslims, and some of them were already established in the nineteenth century.119 At the beginning of the century, the French ambassador Choiseul-Gouffier spoke of a kitapçı in Galata that sold books in Western languages in the following words:

If you want to buy books in Greek, Latin or European languages, you should not visit shops owned by Turkish traders in the Bazaar. There is only one shop that sells books in European languages in Istanbul. On many occasions I have visited this shop in Galata. It is a small shop of two square meters. It is only possible to enter the shop by stepping over the books. Because there is nowhere to sit, you have to sit on a stack of books. This shop has books in French, Italian, German and English that cannot be found anywhere else. This shop caters mainly to foreigners.120

As we discover in his written accounts, John Auldjo personally visited this shop in Galata, but did not find any books that appealed to him.121

Additionally, non-Muslim kitapçıs who imported foreign books and sold stationary supplies were probably centered in commercial buildings (han) in the Eminönü and Galata districts. Towards the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, H. T. Kelleciyan owned a shop in the Büyük Yeni Han on Çakmakçılar Yokuşu, G. Pischtoff had a shop in the Serpuş Han in Perşembepazarı, Misakyan and Garipyan had a shop in the Büyük Abud Efendi Han on the Marpuççular Caddesi, C. Sphyra Freres had a shop in the Zindan Han at Zindankapı, Z. Şişmanyan owned a shop in the Izmirlioğlu Han on Yüksekkaldırım, and Depasta-Sphyra-Gerard had a shop in Saint Pierre Han on Banka Sokak.122 Armenian booksellers were established in Vezirhan in the 1940s.123 Markar (1789–1845) from the Mercan Bazaar was a famous bookseller at the beginning of the nineteenth century.124

Leading New Players in the Nineteenth-Century Book Market: Iranian Booksellers

Azerbaijani booksellers, who were known as Iranian booksellers, also played an important role in the Istanbul book trade. There were some Iranian booksellers in Istanbul even before book publication became popular. However, with the development of private publishers in Istanbul from the middle of the nineteenth century,125 the number of Iranian booksellers increased; a majority of these began to publish Qur’anic codices and other books without a license.126 There are many archival documents regarding the activities of these Iranian booksellers.127 A majority of the Iranian booksellers operated from the Hakkaklar Bazaar,128 and some from the Valide Han, Vezirhanı, and Kitapçı Han. There were also Iranian booksellers selling books in Çemberlitaş129 and in the courtyard of the Yeni Mosque.130

World War I and Sahafs During the Republican Period

The kitapçıs in Istanbul were greatly affected by the economic depression caused by the Balkan War and World War I. As narrated by Ahmed Rasim, when many of the provinces in Rumelia were lost by the Turks, five or six of the leading book-trading companies closed down and some of the bookshops on Bab-ı Ali Avenue, by the Sublime Porte, became kebab shops and grocery stores.131

However, after the establishment of the Turkish Republic, many of the sahafs continued to operate from the old Hakkaklar Bazaar.132 In addition to the sahafs, there were members of other trades in the Hakkaklar Bazaar. According to one report, “in a description by Necati Bey, the son in-law of the famous Sahaf Raşit Efendi, in addition to the books sold by the sahafs, the bazaar was a place where there were people from many different trades and businessmen, such as Yemci Ahmet Efendi, Acem Uzun İsmail, İsmail Efendi, the shop of Kamil Miras’ son, Ali Ertem, the Deli Hafız restaurant, Mahmut Efendi, the spice seller Nadir Efendi, the sweet makers Nami Efendi and Şemsettin Yeşil, the stamp seller Cemil, Raşit Efendi, Hulusi Bey, and Şükrü Efendi, as well as traders of mouthpieces, watches, socks, and prayer beads.”133 When fifteen of the shops were destroyed in a fire that broke out in the Sahaflar Bazaar on 6 January 1950, the Istanbul Municipality demolished the remaining wooden shops and constructed a new Turkish-style bookshop bazaar; the booksellers were relocated in twenty-three shops, twelve of which had two stories.134 After the coup d’état on 12 September 1980, a statue of Ibrahim Müteferrika was placed in the center of the bazaar, and the number of shops in the bazaar was increased by restructuring some of the existing canvassed prefabricated shops.135

The sahafs of Istanbul were dramatically affected by the changes that occurred in Turkey after 1980, again by those brought about by the introduction of computers to the publication world in the 1990s, and finally by the internet in the 2000s. Today, the Sahaflar Bazaar has lost its original identity and become more a place where textbooks, test books, and touristic books are sold.

At the same time, there has been a significant increase in the number of individuals engaged in the sahaf occupation since the 1990s. This is borne out by the participation of sixty-eight sahafs at the sixth Beyoğlu Sahaf Festival in 2012. This festival has been held annually by the Beyoğlu Municipality from September 2007 until today, first in Gezi Park, and later at Tepebaşı. Sahaf stores are concentrated in Aslı Han Pasajı (Old Krepen Pasajı) in Beyoğlu, in the Kafkas Pasajı, and in the Bahariye district in Kadıköy, and there are also a few sahaf shops in Beyazıt, Sarıyer, Ortaköy, and Şişli.

Another important development that occurred after the 1990s was a decrease in the trade of manuscript or printed books written in the Arabic alphabet, accompanied by the increased circulation of all kinds of material rich in visual features.

Regarding the Sahaf Guild and Sheikhs

During the Ottoman period, sahafs, like other professions, were organized into a guild. However, we have no information regarding the actual date when the sahaf-kitapçı guild was established. It is likely that the number of sahafs in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was not high enough to require an organization in the form of a guild. As was the case in many other occupations, in the seventeenth century, the sahaf trade experienced major developments. When the sahafs entered the system of trade in the mid-eighteenth century, they were obliged to belong to a guild association.136 In the Surnames pertaining to the seventeenth century as well as in Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatname, there is mention of the sahafs as a group of artisans or tradesmen (esnaf). When Evliya Çelebi spoke of the sahaf traders, he states that in one place the head of the sahafs was Abdullah Yetimi, and in another Ebazer-i Gıffari.137 In addition, due to their relationship with scholars, Çelebi states that in ceremonies, sahafs wore the uniforms of the scholars, and that they “they passed in the kazasker’s parade, having decorated thousands of books in their shops and loading them onto litters.”138 When the historian Ali listed the groups of merchants who presented the sultan with gifts during a wedding celebration at the palace, he mentions sahafs, relating how the group presented valuable books as gifts.139 Based on Evliya Çelebi’s reports and Surnames regarding the sahafs, it is possible to say that the sahafs, like many of the other trade organizations, became a guild-structured trade organization during the mid-seventeenth century. According to information attained from records, a sheikh/chamberlain, auctioneers, and group leaders served in the sahaf trade organization.

Were there any conditions for becoming a member of the sahaf organization, as there were with other guilds?140 Were any particular qualifications required to become a sahaf? There is no information regarding these matters in any of the documents or records. Therefore, we have no information about the nature of the artisan-apprentice relationship, if such a system existed, or about what the process of apprenticeship to becoming an artisan would have entailed. It was necessary for the sahafs to have a sufficient level of Arabic as well as to be literate; however, it is unknown to us whether or not those who took up this profession actually bore these characteristics.

The sahafs continued their businesses under the supervision of their sheikh for a few centuries, but in the second half of the nineteenth century, the sheikh was replaced by a kethüda (chamberlain). C. White asserts that the sheikh of the sahafs was chosen from among the most elderly and respected members of this group of merchants.141 The name of an experienced, knowledgeable, and senior member of this occupation would be presented by sahafs to the qadi, who would convey this information to the divan, the state council, in a written declaration; the person appointed in accordance with the decree of the divan would be awarded with a license. As in the selection of the sheikh, his dismissal would also take place through the joint decision of the guild members and the approval of the qadi. It was also possible for the sheikhs to resign voluntarily.

Although the kethüdalık (office of chamberlain), both in title and function, became gradually established from the eighteenth century onwards,142 they are generally not mentioned in documents from the eighteenth or the beginning of the nineteenth century. In the few decrees released regarding the sahafs at the end of the eighteenth century, the sheikh of the sahafs is defined as the individual in charge of this group of merchants.143 From the middle of the nineteenth century on, the kethüda of the sahafs took over and began to manage the relationship between the state and this group of tradesmen.144 The sahaf kethüda, similar to the sheikh of the sahafs, was selected by this group of traders. Even in exceptional cases when someone was assigned to this post, the approval of the majority of the sahafs was necessary. “The craftsmen had to go before the qadi together with the candidate and verbally declare that they had selected this person as the kethüda; after the kethüda candidate accepted his election and pledged that he would justly conduct the administration of the sahafs, the qadi recorded this in the hüccet [hujjat] register, which could be classified as the election records; and sent a written declaration to the divan.”145 The original berat (certificate) from the divan would be given to the merchants and a copy of the certificate would be recorded in the register, thus completing the process.146

Among the Istanbul sahafs, the greatest craftsman living today is Ibrahim Manav, who served as a chief auctioneer for many years.147 Lütfullah Seymen (Müteferrika Sahaf), Muhittin Salih Eren (Eren Kitabevi), E. Nedret Işli, and Puzant Akbaş (Turkuaz Kitabevi) are among the most senior, experienced sahafs serving the profession today.

Book Auctions

The sheikh of the sahafs conducted the auction services through auctioneers known as sahaf dellalı (sahaf auctioneers),148 kitab dellalı (book auctioneers),149 and occasionally auctioneers known as sahaf münadisi (sahaf callers)150 and münadi (callers).151 The auctioneers were the key mediators between the buyers and sellers of books. In a manuscript about professions written in the sixteenth century, the rules the book auctioneers were obliged to comply with were mentioned as follows: They were to refrain from selling books to anyone who would lose, criticize, or slander the books. They were not to sell books by heretics or religious innovators, deviants, and astrologers, as well as books that were full of pretense, such as Siretü Antere. They were not to sell to non-believers copies of the Qur’anic codex or books on hadith and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence).152 In addition to participating in auctions, the auctioneers would also pay visits to different shops and mediate the sales of books, for which service they would receive 1–2 percent of the total sale price.

The yiğitbaşı, the supervisor who was the assistant to the kethüda in many other trade guilds, does not appear to have existed in the sahaf guild. However, in some documents, an official called the sahaf bölükbaşı or sahaf group leader is mentioned.153 It appears that in addition to the group leaders who enforced general order in the Grand Bazaar, there were also such officials chosen from among the sahafs to maintain order among these merchants.

Auctions played a major role regarding both the trade of the sahafs and the ways they obtained books. Generally, the auctions in Istanbul were held in the Bedesten and the adjacent Sahaflar Bazaar. When İnciciyan spoke of the Bedesten, he said the four gates of the Bedesten were named after the auction areas in front of the gates, and that all kinds of books were auctioned in front of the Booksellers Gate.154 In the courtyard of Fatih Mosque, it was mostly books on religious sciences that were auctioned.155 The books pertaining to the ulama class were generally auctioned at the Fetvahane156 in Süleymaniye and at the Kazasker Gate in the same area.157 These sites were probably chosen because of their higher potential for customers, that is to say, because the customers who demanded these kinds of books were mostly in this area, and also because it would be easier for members of the ulama class to attend auctions organized there. We see that books owned by statesmen were auctioned not only at the Sahaflar Bazaar, but occasionally at Sublime Porte and in their own mansions.158

The auctions of books that were among the various items that had been seized by the state were held at the Imperial Gate,159 Treasury Gate,160 Sublime Porte,161 Bezzazistan, and in the courtyard of Fatih Mosque. We also see that there were many sahafs among the people attending these auctions. It also appears that different locations were chosen according to the characteristics of the collection to be auctioned and the occupation of the owner. For example, the books written foreign languages in Mehmed Necib Efendi’s library were auctioned at the Translation Chamber in the Sublime Porte.162

Auctions in the Sahaflar Bazaar were generally held on Tuesdays. However, we discover from various newspaper advertisements that when the necessity arose, book auctions were also held on other days for special collections: the books of the chronicler Ahmed Lütfi Efendi were sold on Monday and Tuesday;163 the books of Selim Faris Efendi, who died in London, on Monday and Thursday;164 the books of Süleyman Efendi, the sheikh of the Uzbek Lodge, on Tuesday and Thursday;165 and the books of Halit Molla on a Sunday.166 According to the richness of the collection, these auctions could sometimes continue for days. Books that were to be sold in an auction at the Sahaflar Bazaar were brought either to the shop of the sahaf sheikh/kethüda or to that of one of the merchants, and after the necessary arrangements were made, these books were presented for sale by the auctioneers.

After the 1980s, the demand for book auctions in Istanbul began to increase once again. In parallel with the economic changes and developments in Turkey, a new clientele, particularly demanding Arabic manuscripts and printed works, began to emerge. In order to attract this kind of customers’ attention, appealing auction catalogues were prepared and the auctions were generally held in luxury hotels. Librairie de Péra was the first to organize such book auctions. Despite interruptions, it has held seventy-two auctions since the first in 1985, including the most recent (17 February 2012).

Although this is an event organized even today among the sahafs of Istanbul, the number of regular auctions is limited. Most occur only under special circumstances, such as after a death (for instance, the death of Alaettin Eser). Thus, unlike the auctions at the Librairie de Péra, they are not held regularly. Or, as in the case of the Pazar Mezatı (Sunday Auction), which held its 183rd auction on 21 September 2013, not just books, but also other things such as ephemera, documents, and objects are sold.


1 Fâtih Mehmed II Vakfiyeleri, Ankara: Vakıflar Umum Müdürlüğü, 1938, facsimile, p. 37.

2 Halil İnalcık, “The Policy of Mehmed II towards the Greek Population of Istanbul and the Byzantine Buildings of the City”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 1968-1969, is. 23-24, pp. 231, 233.

3 Ş. Tekindağ, “Istanbul (planning and development of the city)”, İA, V/2, p. 1205; Mehmed II Vakfiyeleri, p. 36. Also see Speros Vryonis, “Byzantine Constantinople and Ottoman Istanbul”, The Ottoman City and It’s Parts, Urban Structure and Social Order, prep. by Irene A. Bierman and Rifa’at A. Abou-El-Haj, NY: A.D. Caratzas, 1991, pp. 30-37.

4 Maurice Cerasi, The Istanbul Divanyolu, Würzburg: Ergon Verlag in Kommission, 2004, pp. 80-82; for the Turkish version, see: Divanyolu, tr. Ali Özdamar, Istanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2006.

5 H. İnalcık, “The Hub of the City: The Bedestan of Istanbul”, The International Journal of Turkish Studies, 1980, vol. 1, pp. 4-5; Süleyman Kırımtayıf, “Belgelerin ve Seyyahların Işığında İstanbul’un Eski Bedesteni”, Arkeoloji ve Sanat, 2007, no. 126, pp. 99-110.

6 The oldest known records of the sahafs in the Ottoman period are in an İn‘âmât Defteri (charity register) from the period of Bayezid II. A record in this register dated 4 Ramadan 909 (20 February 1504) states that Sahaf Sofi was given 2,000 akçe by the sultan (see: Defter-i İn‘âmât ve Tasaddukat, Istanbul Metropolitan Council Atatürk Library, Muallim Cevdet, no. 70, p. 38).

7 The term sandık is used for the word dolap, or stall, in the document. Dolap was a term used for a shop in the Bedesten. These kinds of shops were called dolaps because they had a wooden bench in the front that was open on the sides and top with a cupboard behind to safeguard the books. (see: M. Zeki Pakalın, Osmanlı Tarih Deyimleri ve Terimleri Sözlüğü, Istanbul: Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı, 1946, vol. 1, p. 471).

8 Zaviye was a term used in the document for the shops on the corners of the streets in the bazaar; these were probably smaller than the others. The fact that the rent of these shops was much less than the others and that many of these shops were empty indicates that they were not preferred.

9 Istanbul Metropolitan Council Atatürk Library no. O.64, ff. 3b-4a.

10 Istanbul Metropolitan Council Atatürk Library no. O. 64 f. 4b.

11 For a description of the stalls in the bazaar, see: Hans Dernschwam, İstanbul ve Anadolu’ya Seyahat Günlüğü, translated by Yaşar Önen, Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 1992, pp. 130-131.

12 Yunus Koç, “La Fixation par Ecrit des Lois Ottomanes et le Role des Codes de Lois, Etude Accompagnee de l’Edition du Manuscrit de Munich (XVe-XVIe siecles)” (PhD thesis), Université de Paris I, 1997, p. 235.

13 Ahmet Akgündüz, Osmanlı Kanunnâmeleri ve Hukukî Tahlilleri, Istanbul: Fey Vakfı, 1992, vol. 4, p. 326.

14 After describing the Bezzazistan, the French traveler Nicolas de Nicolay, who visited the building around the end of the sixteenth century, says that extremely valuable gold, silver, jewelry, and various furs were also on sale there.

15 Istanbul Metropolitan Council Atatürk Library, no. O. 64, pp. 20a-21a. In an inventory carried out eight years after this one, it was determined that eight of the forty-four shops were empty (see: Turkish-Islamic Works Museum, no. 2204).

16 In a tereke (inheritance document) in the Kısmet-i Askeriye (military court) no. 1156b, dated 1604, this area is recorded as Bâzâristân-ı Atîk. As this is the only reference we have at the moment, it would not be appropriate to say this was a commonly used term. (see: Şer‘iye Sicilleri Arşivi, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1, p. 114).

17 TSMA, no. E. 8101.

18 Latîfî, Tezkiretü’ş-şu‘arâ ve tabsıratü’n-nuzamâ, prepared by Rıdvan Canım, Ankara: Atatürk Kültür, Dil ve Tarih Yüksek Kurumu Atatürk Kültür Merkezi, 2000, p. 490.

19 “Bu cümle ile Çerak derler bir civanun şem‘ i hüsnüne pervane imiş ve âteş i ışk ile tutuşmakda bî-ihtiyâr olup dîvâne imiş. Mezbûr Çerağ’a âhir i ömrinde biz de irişdük. İstanbul Bezzâzistân’ında kitab sahhâfı idi” (He was struck by the beauty of a young man named Çerak and went crazy in the fire of love for this youth. We managed to meet this Çerak near the end of his life; he was a sahaf in the Bazzazistan [Covered Market] of Istanbul.) (Âşık Çelebi, Meşâirü’ş-şuarâ, prepared by Filiz Kılıç, Istanbul: İstanbul Araştırmaları Enstitüsü, 2010, vol. 1, p. 349).

20 “... Bezzâzistâna vardum. Mevlânâ Mahvî i Herevî i sahhâfın dükkânında ki müftî-zâdelerüñ hocası idi, Hayâlî’yi ve Riyâzî’yi ve Abdülğanî’yi ki sonra kâdî i ‘asker oldu ol zamân otuza mülâzım idi ve Dîvâne Kerîm Çelebi’yi ki Rızâyî tahallus idinür ki sonra Kudüs kazası virildikte intikal itdi ve Şeyh Sâyilî’yi müctemi’ buldum” (… I came to the Bezzazistan. I found Hayâlî, Riyâzî, Abdülganî, who at that time was still in his thirties and serving as an official in the madrasa, later to rise as high as kazasker, Dîvâne Kerîm Çelebi, who later took the pseudonym Rızâyî and was given the province of Jerusalem and moved there, and Sheikh Sâyilî in the shop of the sahaf Mevlana Mahvî-i Herevi, who was instructor to the sons of the mufti …) (Reşehât, Yapı Kredi Sermet Çifter Araştırma Ktp., no. 265, p. 148a-b; I learned of this book through the following work: Mustafa Koç, Baleybelen Muhyi-i Gülşenî: İlk Yapma Dil, Istanbul: Klasik Yayınları, 2005, p. 21).

21 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Balat Court, no. 2, p. 51a, 53b, 59a, 68a (Şevval-Zilhicce 970/Mayıs-Temmuz 1563.

22 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Üsküdar Court, no. 84, p. 28b (Awwal-i Rajab 1000/Nisan 1592).

23 VGMA, no. 594, p. 3.

24 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Rumeli Sadareti (grand vizier), no. 21, p. 74a.

25 Petrus Gyllius, İstanbul ve Tarihî Eserleri, translated by Erendiz Özbayoğlu, Istanbul: Eren Yayıncılık, 1997, p. 139.

26 Reşehât, p. 151a. I learned of this record from the work: Koç, Baleybelen Muhyi-i Gülşenî, p. 23.

27 Ali b. Muhammed et-Temgrûtî, en-Nefhatü’l-miskiyye fi’s-sefâreti’t-Türkiyye, nşr. Muhammed es-Sâlihî, Beyrut: el-Müessesetü’l-Arabiyye li’d-dirâsât ve’n-neşr, 2007, pp. 117, 128.

28 A. G. Busbequius, Travels into Turkey, London: Printed for J. Robinson, 1744, p. 290. Busbecq relates that he was unable to purchase Dioskorides’s book, which was full of plates of animals and plants, stating that it cost one hundred ducats (see same place).

29 G. J. Toomer, Eastern Wisedome and Learning: The Study of Arabic in Seventeenth-Century England, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1996, pp. 26-27; Sonja Brentjes, “Seeking, Transforming, Discarding Knowledge”, Travellers from Europe in the Ottoman and Safavid Empires, 16th -17th Centuries, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2010, p. 27.

30 Hırand D. Andreasyan (translation), Polonyalı Simeon’un Seyahatnâmesi: 1608-1619, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi, 1964, p. 9.

31 Hezârfen Hüseyin Efendi, Telhîsü’l-beyân fî Kavânîn i Âl i Osmân, prepared by Sevim İlgürel, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1998, pp. 52-53.

32 This name is also attested in a court record dated 20 Zilhicce 1138/19 August 1726, which speaks of “the headscarf sellers near the Sahaflar Gate.” (see: Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Istanbul Court, no. 24, p. 38a).

33 Fikret Sarıcaoğlu, “Kâtib Çelebi’nin Otobiyografileri”, TD, 2001-2002, issue 37, p. 315: “esâmi i kütüb bu zamana gelince görilüp mutalaa olunan tevârîh ve tabakat kitaplarından mahallerine nakilden gayri bi-şahsihi elden geçüp kitaphanelerin nice bin cild kitabı ve yirmi seneden berü sahhâflar akıdup getürdüği cümle kütüp yerlerine yazılup...” “In addition to the history and biography books that I have seen and studied up to this date, I have recorded the names of books that have been collected from the sahaf over the past twenty years, as well as the thousands of volumes that I have encountered in the libraries.”

34 For a more detailed study on the subject, see: Toomer, Eastern Wisedome and Learning. Also see Robert Jones, “Piracy, War, and Acquisition of Arabic Manuscript in Renaissance Europe”, Manuscripts of the Middle East, 1987, vol. 2, pp. 96-110; Sonja Brentjes, “XVI-XVII. Yüzyıllarda Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda Batı Avrupalı Gezginler ve Bilimsel Çalışmalar”, translated by Meltem Begüm Saatçi, Türkler, edited by Hasan Celal Güzel, Kemal Çiçek and Salim Koca, Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, 2002, pp. 251-259.

35 In a letter, Golius said that the books he purchased in Aleppo and Istanbul brought pleasure to his life (see: Jan Schmidt, “An Ostrich Egg for Golius. The Heyman Papers Preserved in the Leiden and Manchester University Libraries and Early Modern Contacts Between the Netherlands and the Middle East, The Joys of Philology, Studies in Ottoman Literature, History and Orientalism (1500-1923), Istanbul: The Isis Press = İsis Yayımcılık, 2002, p. 33.)

36 Antoine Galland, İstanbul’a Ait Günlük Hâtıralar (1672-1673), edited by Charles Scheffer, trans. by Nahid Sırrı Örik, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1949, vol. 1, p. 186.

37 Zeki Arıkan, “Antoine Galland ve XVII. Yüzyılda İstanbul’da Kitapçılık”, Tarih Yazımında Yeni Yaklaşımlar Küreselleşme ve Yerelleşme: Uluslararası Tarih Kongresi 3, prepared by Zeynel Abidin Kızılyaprak, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yayınları, 2000, p. 177.

38 Albert Vandal, Les Voyages de Marquis de Nointel (1670-1680), Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1900, pp. 74-76.

39Men‘-i Bey‘ i Kütüb be-Tüccâr-ı Etrâf: İstanbul’da olan sahhâf tâ’ifesi tama‘-ı hamları sebebiyle bî-nihâye kütüb-i mu‘tebereyi etrâf u eknâfa belki Memâlik-i Osmâniyye’den hâric ba‘zı âhar memleketlere gönderüp İstanbul’da kütüb-i nefîsenin kılletine bâ‘is olmağla ‘ilm-i şerîfin indirâsını muktezîdür diyü diyâr-ı âhara ticâret vechi üzre min-ba‘d kitab gönderilmek husûsu men‘ olunmak bâbında Âsitâne-i sa‘âdet kâ’im-makâmı ve İstanbul Kâdîsı ve Gümrük Emîni’ne hitâben emr-i âlî isdâr olundu” “About the ban on foreign merchants selling books: Due to the greed of Istanbul sahafs, countless valuable books have been sent to distant regions, even to countries outside Ottoman territory, resulting in the scarcity of rare books in Istanbul. For this reason, the Istanbul kaymakam [deputy of the grand vizier] and the Istanbul qadi and the gümrük emini [head of customs] have announced that, due to the danger of ‘leading to the eradication of knowledge,’ the export of books out of Istanbul for commercial purposes has been forbidden.” (Râşid, Tarih, Istanbul: Matbaa-i Âmire, 1282, vol. 4, p. 238).

40 Toomer, Eastern Wisedome and Learning, pp. 135-136,141.

41 Toomer, Eastern Wisedome and Learning, pp. 135-136.

42 Leonard Twells, The Theological Works of the Learned Dr. Pocock, to which is Prefixed an Account of His Life and Writings Never Before Printed, London: Printed for the Editor, and Sold by R. Gosling, 1740, vol. 1, p. 15.

43 When Pococke traveled to Istanbul, he said that after settling in Pera, where English and other foreign merchants stayed, he aimed to find friends to help him attain books and learn Turkish. He states that he was initially unsuccessful, but that he later had some luck in this matter and came across intelligent, civilized Jews unlike those he had met in Aleppo. Pococke also adds that with their assistance, he purchased and had many books copied. (Twells, The Theological Works, p. 11).

44 As we can understand from the notes in Galland’s Diary, he established quite a good relationship with the sahafs. The sahafs not only brought books for him to see, but he was also free to visit the Bedesten and buy books of his choice. For example, on Thursday, 19 December 1672 he went to the Bedesten to purchase a book, Berat Mecmuası, on behalf of the ambassador; a sahaf had previously brought him this book, asking for fifty kuruş, but Galland purchased the book for fifteen kuruş. There are records in Galland’s work that he went to the Bedesten a number of times.

45 I also agree with Yahya Erdem’s opinion that “As there is no documentation that three years after Galland the sahafs of Istanbul decided to cease selling books to foreigners, the cause of this misunderstanding was, in my opinion, because the travelers were unfamiliar with the language and therefore unable to communicate with the sahafs.” (“Sahhaflar ve Seyyahlar: Osmanlı’da Kitapçılık”, Osmanlı, edited by Güler Eren, Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, 1999, vol. 11, p. 722)

46 A Journey into Greece by George Wheler Esq; in Company of Dr. Spon of Lyons, London: Printed for William Cademan, Robert Kettlewell, and Awnsham Churchill, 1682, p. 199. While Dr. Jacop Spon speaks of the same incident, he did not use the phrase “obtaining cheaper by bargaining.” See: Jacob Spon, George Wheler, Voyage d’Italie, de Dalmatie, de Grece, et du Levant, fait aux années 1675 and 1676, Amsterdam: H. & T. Boom, 1679, vol. 1, p. 193.

47 Muhtar Yahya Dağlı, İstanbul Mahalle Bekçilerinin Destan ve Mani Katarları, Istanbul: Eminönü Halkevi, 1948, p. 15.

48 In a document dated Safer 1013 (July 1604), there is a mention of “The sahaf shop of the late Seyyid Ali bin Seyyid Ahmed in the Bâzâristan-ı Atîk” (Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1, p. 110a).

49 Galland, Istanbul’a Ait Günlük Hâtıralar, vol. 1, p. 186.

50 Sieur de S. Maurice, La Cour Ottoman ou l’interpréte de la Porte, related by Charles Scheffer in Paris 1672, in Galland, Istanbul’a Ait Günlük Hâtıralar, vol. 1, p. 31.

51 Twells, The Theological Works of the Learned, vol. 1, p. 15; Toomer, Eastern Wisdome and Learning, p. 141.

52 See: Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Evkāf-ı Hümayun Müfettişliği (Inspectorate of Imperial Foundations), no. 130, p. 56.

53 Travels of Ali Bey in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria and Turkey between the Years 1803 and 1807, Philadelphia: Printed for John Conrad, at the Shakespeare Buildings, 1816, vol. 2, p. 395.

54 Dağlı, İstanbul Mahalle Bekçilerinin Destan ve Mani Katarları, p. 12.

55 Dernschwam, İstanbul ve Anadolu’ya Seyahat Günlüğü, translated by Yaşar Önen, Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 1992, pp. 130-131.

56 René du Parquet, İstanbul’da Bir Yıl, translated by Sertaç Canpolat, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2008, p. 24.

57 Henry Otis Dwight, Constantinople and its Problems, its Peoples, Customs, Religions and Progress, London: Oliphant, 1901, pp. 252-253.

58 Charles White, Three Years in Constantinople or Domestic Manners of the Turks in 1844, London: H. Colburn, 1846, vol. 2, p. 155.

59 “Ba‘dehu kaba sakal sarkıdup Karaman Pazarı’nda sahhâf dükkânı açup sahib-i ser ü sâmân oldı.” “Later, he grew out his beard, opened a sahaf shop in the Karaman Bazaar, and became a man of means and power.” Âşık Çelebi, Meşâirü’ş-şuarâ, vol. 1, p. 588.

60 Ahmed Refik, Âlimler ve San‘atkârlar, Istanbul: Kitabhane-i Hilmi, 1924, p. 332.

61 BOA, C.MF, no. 5641.

62 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Istanbul Court, (TSMA), no. 243, p. 5a.

63 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 69, p. 17b.

64 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 209 p. 68a.

65 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 421, p. 79b (5 Şaban 1191/8 September 1777).

66 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 447 p. 45b.

67 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 744 p. 61a; no. 748 p. 3b.

68 Constantinople Old and New, London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1915, p. 71.

69 Necib Âsım, “Kitapçılık”, İkdam, 2 Cemâziyelâhir 1340/31 January 1338, vol. 53, issue 8937, p. 3; BOA, MF.MKT, 927/6; BOA, A.MKT, 144/38.

70 In Mehmed Hasib’s Rûznâmesi, a record exists regarding one of these fires: “The date of the fire that broke out at the tomb gate of the booksellers was on 29 Rajab 1185 [7 October 1771]” (see: Süleyman Göksu, “Mehmed Hasîb Rûznâmesi (H. 1182-1195/M. 1768-1781)” (MA thesis), Marmara University, 1993, p. 19.

71 There is reference to the Sahaflar Bazaar in this period as “the Sahaflar Bazaar in the Çârşû-yı Kebîr [Grand Bazaar]” (Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1897, p. 12, 60). In the permit prepared by the Ministry of the Gendarmerie on 23 Teşrinisani 1305 (5 December 1889), it states that “Today he went to the Çârşû-yı Kebîr and, passing the bazaar of the calpac makers, jewelers, and sahaflar through the Bedesten, he left from the Nuruosmaniye Gate.” (BOA, Y.PRK.ZB, 5/17). Without providing any source, Hitzel claims that the sahafs had abandoned the bazaar due to security concerns and fear of fire, but this is incorrect (see: Frédéric Hitzel, “Manuscrits, livres et culture livresque à Istanbul”, Revue des Mondes Musulmanes et de la Mediterranée, 1999, issue 87-88, p. 21.

72 BOA, A.DVN.d., no. 836.

73 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1595, p. 10b (15 Ca. 1263/1 May 1847).

74 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1846, p. 58b (9 Receb 1294/30 July 1877).

75 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Üsküdar Court, no. 719, p. 92.

76 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1934, p. 67.

77 BOA, DH.MKT, 133/9. See: Document XIII.

78 BOA, I.HUS, no. 27, lef 1312 M/188/1; no. 27, lef 1312 M/188/2; BEO, no. 446, lef 33393. İkdam, 2 Cemâziyelâhir 1340/31 January 1338, vol. 53, no. 8937, p. 3; Emin Nedret İşli, “Kitap, Yine Kitap, Daima Kitap”, Dergâh, 2009, vol. 20, issue 230, p. 15.

79 BOA, Y.PRK.ZB, 23/114.

80 BOA, MF.ALY, 76/91/1-5.

81 Emin Nedret Işli, “İstanbul’da Kitap ve Sahaflık”, Istanbul: Mekân ve İnsan, edited by Recep Bozdoğan, Nail Yılmaz and Müslüm Yılmaz, Istanbul: Marmara Belediyeler Birliği, 2012, p. 97.

82 We see that in early eras, although not commonly, the word kitapçı was sometimes used instead of sahaf (for example, dated 1029/1620 see: Galab D. Galabov, Die Protokolbücher des Kadiamtes Sofia, Munich: Verlag R. Oldenbourg, 1960, p. 336). In the graveyard of Şeyh Vefa Mosque, there are the gravestones of “Halil, son of Kitabçı Hacı Osman 1154 [1742],” “Kitabçı el-Hac Osman Agha 1157 [1745],” “Osman Agha, son of Kitabçı el-Hac Ali 1167 [1753],” and “Kitabçı el-Hac Ali, beloved son of Osman Agha” (1164/1751) from the same family (See: Mustafa Sürün, “İstanbul Şeyh Vefâ Câmii Haziresi” (MA thesis), Marmara University, 2006, pp. 50, 60, 88). There is also record of “Boğos, son of Ohannes, who died (1224/1809) while located in the Vezir Han” as a kitapçı. (Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 861, p. 64b).

83 A record dated 22 Şaban 1211 (25 February 1797) regarding the sale of the three books printed in the Mühendishane Matbaası states that the books “were given to the sahafs to be sold, and are still in their possession.” This indicates that printed books were initially given to the sahafs to sell towards the end of the eighteenth century. (see: Kemal Beydilli, Türk Bilim ve Matbaacılık Tarihinde Mühendishane Matbaası ve Kütüphanesi, Istanbul: Eren Yayıncılık, 1995, p. 182)

84 BOA, A.MKT, no. 144, lef 38.

85 BOA, HH.VRK, 51/60, 63.

86 In many of the advertisements in newspapers published at this time, the addresses of the sahafs were given as the sales points for printed books. A company established for the trade in printed books was known as Şirket-i Sahafiye-i Osmaniye (BOA, Y.MTV, 64/19). For the establishment of this company, see: Fatmagül Demirel, “Osmanlı’da Bir Kitap Şirketi, Şirket i Sahafiye i Osmaniye”, Müteferrika, 2004, issue 25, pp. 89-97; Mehmet Ö. Alkan, “Osmanlı’nın Bütün Sahafları Birleşiniz! “Şirket i Sahafiye i Osmaniye”, Osmanlı Döneminde Sahaflar ve Yayınladıkları Kitaplar”, Müteferrika, 2006, issue 29, pp. 3-44.

87 In the announcement of the sales of certain books in the Takvîm i Vekāyi‘, it states that Esad Efendi, Hacı Âkif Efendi, Hacı Hüseyin Efendi, and Mısırlı Hacı Mustafa Efendi of the Sahaflar Bazaar and Bekir Efendi and Ahmed Efendi of the Hakkaklar Bazaar sold the books being publicized. (see: Takvîm i Vekāyi‘, issue 1178, 1195, 1198, 1200, 1201, 1204). Necib Âsım states that the sahafs refused to sell novels, such as Ahmed Midhat’s play (“Kitapçılık”, p. 3).

88 The back page of Fatîn Dîvânı (Istanbul: İzzet Efendi Matbaası, 1288) is a good example of the various sales points and localities. “Sold in the stated locations: In the shops of Ahmed in the Hakkaklar Bazaar, Ismail and Mücellid Hasan of the Sahaf Bazaar, the toyshop of Sezai at Vezneciler, Hasan’s tobacconist shop in Bâğçekapısu, and the fragrance seller Şükrü Effendi’s shop opposite the Laleli Fountain, and in public teashops.”

89 For these kinds of ads published in the Tasvîr i Efkâr newspaper, see: Necdet Hayta, Tarih Araştırmalarına Kaynak Olarak Tasvir i Efkâr Gazetesi (1278/1862-1286/1869), Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 2002, pp. 229-249. Also see: Takvîm i Vekāyi‘, issue 740, 752, 771, 773, 772, 807, 808, 887, 914, 968, 993, 1204, 1397, 1471, 1508, 1675; Vakit, issue 1451.

90 As we discover from certain documents concerned with attempts to prevent Iranian booksellers from selling corruptive books in the Sahaflar Bazaar (BOA, Y.PRK.BŞK, 66/95; BOA, İ.HUS, 960; BOA, DH.MKT, 521/3), in addition to the book traders selling manuscripts, there were also traders selling printed books.

91 Selim Nüzhet (prep. by), 1933 Almanak, Istanbul: Devlet Matbaası, 1933, pp. 147-149.

92 Ahmed Rasim, Matbuat Hatıralarından Muharrir, Şâir, Edib, edited by Kazım Yetiş, Istanbul: Tercüman Gazetesi, 1980, pp. 81-82.

93 BOA, MV, 113/43; BOA, ZB, 373/103.

94 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1528, p. 12b.

95 For the use of the word maktaba as “bookseller” and the term’s other meanings, see: Ami Ayalon, “Arab Booksellers and Bookshops in the Age of Printing, 1850-1914”, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 2010, vol. 37, issue 1, p. 79.

96 Abdülvehhâb b. İbrâhim, el-Ulemâ’ ve’l-üdebâü’l-verrâkūn fi’l-Hicâz fi’l-karni’r-râbi‘ aşer el-hicrî, Tâif: Nâdî et-Tâif el-edebî, 1423/2002, p. 42.

97 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Bâb Court, no. 523, p. 38.

98 For example, in the inheritance document of Sahaf Seyyid el-Hâc Ibrahim Esad Efendi, dated 29 Şaban 1260 (11 November 1844), it refers to him as a kitapçı (Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1552, 79a).

99 In a letter written by Sahaf Nasrullah Tebrizî to Franz Taeschner, dated 20 July 1924, he refers to himself as “Kitapçı Rıza Nasrullah from No 155-157, Çadırcılar Avenue, Bayezıt-Istanbul.” (See: Franz Taeschner’s “Collection of Turkish Manuscripts in the Leiden University Library”, The Joys of Philology, Studies in Ottoman Literature, History and Orientalism (1500-1923), Istanbul: The Isis Press = İsis Yayımcılık, 2002, p. 243).

100 BOA, DH.MKT, 2349/25; 2466/32; BOA, MF.MKT, 84/66.

101 In Süleyman Efendi’s shop, there were fifty-five manuscript copies of the Qur’an, the prices of which varied between 18 and 167 kuruş.

102 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1041, p. 52b (5 Cemâziyelâhir 1234/1 April 1819).

103 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1495, p. 90a.

104 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Beytülmal Kassamlığı (Inheritance Distributor), no. 29, p. 16b (29 Rebîülâhir 1269/9 February 1853).

105 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1706, p. 87a (15 Şaban 1271/26 March 1855).

106 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Rumeli Sadareti, no. 526, pp. 19b-20.

107 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1706, p. 92a.

108 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1846, 8b.

109 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Beytülmal Kassamlığı, no. 83, p. 33a.

110 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Beytülmal Kassamlığı, no. 96, p. 90b.

111 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1846, p. 58b.

112 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Beytülmal Kassamlığı, no. 59, p. 48b.

113 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Beytülmal Kassamlığı, no. 73, p. 21a.

114 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1904, p. 26a (22 Şaban 1305/4 May 1888).

115 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1934, p. 12a.

116 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1934, p. 28a.

117 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 2000, p. 86a.

118 Sabah, 9.3.1315, p. 2; 28.2.1315, p. 3. In the Büyük Ticâret Salnâmesi, published in 1928, the names of the booksellers selling published books in the various regions of Istanbul are given. There are many names of non-Muslims engaged in bookselling in Beyoğlu and around the Sublime Porte on this list (see: p. 1323-1325). In the archive records, in addition to the Greek and Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire who were engaged in bookselling in Beyoğlu and Galata, the names of many foreigners are also included. Among them there are English (BOA, MF.MKT, 560/22; 967/48), Greek (BOA, DH.MKT, 2415/39; 1072/51) and Russians (BOA, MF.MKT, 670/11).

119 According to Johann Strauss, in 1847, two non-Muslims were operating in the book trade in Beyoğlu. The first of the two, Wick, sold only French books, while the other, an Armenian named İskender, made a point of not selling religious books and sold books of science (“Who Read What in the Ottoman Empire (19th-20th centuries)?”, Arabic Middle Eastern Literatures, 2003, vol. 6, issue 1, pp. 46-47).

120 Le Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier, Ambassadeur de France à Constantinople, Voyage Pittoresque dans L’Empire Ottoman, Paris: Libr. J.-P. Aillaud, 1842, vol. 4, pp. 103-104. In the work by Joseph Michaud, who was in Istanbul in 1830–1831, the words of the ambassador are reported identically (see: M. Michaud, M. Poujoulat, Correspondance D’Orient 1830- 1831, Bruxelles: Imprimerie du ducessois, 1835, vol. 2, p. 243).

121 John Auldjo, Journal of a Visit to Constantinople, London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman, 1835, p. 76.

122 M. Sadettin Fidan, Geçmişten Günümüze Istanbul Hanları, Istanbul: İstanbul Ticaret Odası, 2009, p. 32, 55, 65, 189, 246, 277.

123 Erdem, “Sahhaflar ve Seyyahlar”, vol. 11, p. 729.

124 Strauss, “Who Read What in the Ottoman Empire”, p. 46.

125 Ali Birinci, “Osman Bey ve Matbaası: Ser-kurena Osman Bey’in Hikâyesine ve Matbaa-i Osmaniye’nin Tarihçesine Medhal”, Müteferrika, 2011, issue 39, pp. 5-6.

126 Birinci, “Osman Bey ve Matbaası”, pp. 23-25.

127 BOA, DH.MKT, 2437/21; 2745/12; BOA, MF.MKT, 387/62; 392/2; 407/31; 433/50; 434/35; 628/41; 629/5; 629/52; 647/6; 845/8.

128 “Ahmed Efendi’s shop in the Sahaflar Bazaar and the Persian booksellers in Bâyezîd” are mentioned in an advertisement in the Rûznâme-i Cerîde-i Havâdis (13 Şevval 1277, issue 123, p. 4) regarding the sales points of a newly published book; this tells us that some of the Iranian booksellers had settled in the Beyazıt district in the middle of the nineteenth century.

129 BOA, MF.MKT, 411/10.

130 BOA, MF.MKT, 434/21.

131 Ahmed Rasim, Muharrir Bu Ya, edited by Hikmet Dizdaroğlu, Ankara: Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı, 1969, pp. 153-155.

132 There is a list of the kitapçıs and sahafs around the Sublime Porte, Beyazıt and surrounding areas, and in the Hakkaklar Bazaar after the republic was established in Server R. İskit’s book Türkiyede Neşriyat Hareketleri Tarihine Bir Bakış (Istanbul: Maarif Vekaleti, 1939, pp. 270-272).

133 İşli, “İstanbul’da Kitap ve Sahaflık”, p. 98.

134 Halûk Y. Şehsuvaroğlu, Asırlar Boyunca İstanbul, Istanbul: Cumhuriyet Gazetesi, 1953, p. 90; Aslan Kaynardağ, “Çeşitli Yönleriyle İstanbul Sahaflar Çarşısı”, Tarihte Doğu-Batı Çatışması: Semavi Eyice’ye Saygı, edited by Ertan Eğribel and Ufuk Özcan, Istanbul: Kızılelma Yayıncılık, 2005, p. 606; İşli, “İstanbul’da Kitap ve Sahaflık”, pp. 98-99.

135 İşli, “Istanbul’da Kitap ve Sahaflık”, p. 100.

136 Regarding the sahaf guild, see: İsmail E. Erünsal, Osmanlılarda Sahaflık ve Sahaflar, Istanbul: Timaş Yayınları, 2013, pp. 270-289.

137 Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatnâme, edited by Orhan Şaik Gökyay, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 1998, vol. 1, pp. 225, 291.

138 Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatname, vol. 1, pp. 225, 291. In Radavî’s Fütüvvetnâme, it is related that Abdullâh-ı Yetîmî was the leader of the sahaf; his lineage stretched back to Selman and from him to Ali (see: Ali Torun, Türk Edebiyatında Türkçe Fütüvvet-nâmeler Üzerine Bir İnceleme, Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 1998, p. 148).

139 Gelibolulu Mustafa Âlî, Câmiu’l-buhûr der Mecâlis i Sûr, edited by Ali Öztekin, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1996, p. 156; Mehmet Arslan, Türk Edebiyatında Manzum Surnâmeler: Osmanlı Saray Düğünleri ve Şenlikleri, Ankara: Atatürk Kültür, Dil ve Tarih Yüksek Kurumu Atatürk Kültür Merkezi, 1999, pp. 422-423.

140 Information regarding the other trade organizations is based in general on documentation; there are attempts to create data by comparison based on the information provided in the Fütüvvetnâmes.

141 White, Three Years in Constantinople, vol. 2, p. 158.

142 Mehmet Genç, Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda Devlet ve Ekonomi, Istanbul: Ötüken Neşriyat, 2000, p. 296.

143 BOA, C.BLD, no. 7269; BOA, C.MF, no. 5641; BOA, MAD, no. 10221; Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Istanbul Court, no. 76, pp. 10-11.

144 It is evident that Suraiya N. Faroqhi’s generalization “The kethüda was responsible for conducting the guild activities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Istanbul and probably in other cities where the Turkish language was spoken” is not correct, at least in the case of the sahaf guild. (see: “Guildsmen and Handicraft Producers”, The Cambridge History of Turkey, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, vol. 3, p. 350.) Additionally, according to the data presented in one of Rıfat Özdemir’s studies, it is clear that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the heads of the traders in the various regions of Anatolia were given different titles, which seems to undermine Faroqhi’s generalization about kethüdas operating “in other cities where the Turkish language was spoken.” (see: Rifat Özdemir, Antakya Esnaf Teşkilatı (1709-1860), Antakya: S.S. Antakya Esnaf ve Sanatkarlar Kredi ve Kefalet Kooperatifi, 2007, pp. 19-20).

145 Genç, Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda Devlet ve Ekonomi, p. 296.

146 For the bureaucratic procedures involved in selecting a kethüda, see: Halil İnalcık, “The Appointment Procedure of a Guild Warden (Kethüda), WZKM, 1986, vol. 76, pp. 135-142.

147 Emin Nedret İşli, “Sahaflar”, İstanbul Ansiklopedisi, Istanbul: NTV Yayınları,2010, p. 788.

148 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Havass ı Refîa Court, no. 469, p. 20a.

149 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Diyarbakır, no. 296.

150 In a document from the Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 815, p. 61b; no, 1664, p. 59a, dated 24 Şaban 1242 (23 March 1827), Hafız Mehmed Efendi is mentioned as one of the esnâf-ı merkume münâdîleri (auctioneers of the traders) (see: Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1191, p. 36a).

151 BOA, DBŞM.ZMT, no. 13978, p. 18; BOA, MAD, no. 9738, p. 76; Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Beytülmal Kassamlığı (Inheritance Distributor), no. 45, p. 67b; no. 49, p. 55a.

152 See: Şemseddin Muhammed b. Tolun es-Sâlihî ed-Dımaşkī, Nakdü’t-tâlib li-zeğali’l-menâsıb, edited by Muhammed Ahmed Dehmân and Hâlid Muhammed Dehmân, Beyrut: Dârü’l-fikri’l-muâsır, 1992, p. 190.

153 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Istanbul Court, no. 67, p. 41; no. 90, p. 66a; Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Rumeli Sadareti, no. 419, p. 61b; BOA, A.DVN.RSK, no. 129, p. 189.

154 P. G. İnciciyan, XVIII. Asırda İstanbul, translated by Hrand D. Andreasyan, Istanbul: İstanbul Fethi Derneği İstanbul Enstitüsü, 1956, p. 27.

155 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 744, p. 61a; no. 748, p. 3b.

156Müteveffâ-yı mezbûrun İstanbul’da Vezneciler’de Sabuncu Hanı’nda odada mahfûz kütübü olup Bâb ı Hazret i Fetvâ-penâhî’de bey‘ olunan” (The books of the deceased, mentioned above, located in his room in the Sabuncu Han in Vezneciler in Istanbul, were sold in the building of the Sheikh al-Islam) (Şer’iye Siçilleri Archives, Beytülmal Kassamlığı, no. 55, p. 22a); “Müteveffâ-yı mûmâ-ileyhin bi’l-cümle kütübi Bâb ı Fetvâ-penâhî’de Sadaret i Rûm-ili mutasarrıflarına mahsûs dâireye nakl ve bi’l-müzâyede bey‘ olunduğu” (All the books belonging to the aforementioned deceased were sold at an auction in the office belonging to the Rumeli kazasker in the building of the Sheikh al-Islam) (Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1664, p. 59b, 68a; in addition, see: Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1677, p. 7a; no. 1715, pp. 16a, 25a; no. 1716, pp. 16b, 25a; no. 1784, p. 97; no. 1800, pp. 30a, 39b; no. 1803, p. 47a; no. 1808, p. 92a; no. 1817, p. 19a; no. 1833, p. 24a-b; no. 1834, p. 18a.

157 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 737, p. 38b.

158 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1751, p. 49b; no. 1888, p. 82b; no. 1751, p. 61b.

159 BOA, DBŞM.MHF, no. 12713, 12624, 13168; Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1216, p. 64b. “Bu bendeleri bundan evvel Bâb ı Hümâyûn’da müzâyede olunan kitablardan Şeyh hattı olmak üzre bir En‘âm-ı Şerîf altmış guruşa kulunuz üzerinde kalup” (Your humble servant bought an En’âm-ı Şerîf that was written in the hand of the sheikh from the books that were auctioned earlier in Topkapı Palace) (BOA, D.BŞB, 1/46).

160 BOA DBŞM.MHF, no. 12646; Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1191, p. 36a; no. 1274, p. 46a; no. 1299, p. 80a.

161 TSMA, no. D. 1021; BOA, DBŞM.MHF, no.13293; BOA, DBŞM.ZMT, no. 13978.

162 Şer‘iye Sicilleri Archives, Kısmet-i Askeriye, no. 1706, p. 94a.

163 Sabah, 20. 1. 1326 Rebîülâhir/2 April 1910, issue 7374.

164 Sabah, 21. 11. 1326 Rebîülâhir /3 February 1911, issue 7675.

165 Sabah, 14. 07. 1306 Rebîülâhir /26 September 1890, issue 387.

166 Sabah, 25 March 1920, issue 10 971.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.