Ephemera

Anna Narly postcards bundle | Bulwers Castle | Haidarpasha explosion | Kadıköy phone exchange | Artigiana appeal poster | Gilchrist Walker minutes book | Coffee culture | Usoni gratitude document | Former Galata Church | Guys postcards | Van Heemstra photo | Menemen postcard and factory | Smyrna paintings | Smyrna bridges | Tophane Ford works | Eppstein medals | Serra venture

The phone was invented in 1876 and the first experimental lines were laid in Istanbul in 1881. However the suspicious nature of the Ottoman regime of the time, no doubt fearing this new tool could be used by spies against its interests banned all phone usage (with one or two minor exceptions) in 1888. With the constitutional revolution of 1908 this ban was lifted and within a couple of years phone exchange apparatus was purchased from France. Initially this network was envisaged to serve just the official buildings however lack of technical know-how quickly showed itself. Seeing this chaotic situation develop foreign / Levantine business interests petitioned the government to be given the concession to run the phone network. Amongst the various competiting factions, the government chose the consortium headed by a Herbert Lows Webbe who was backed by British, American and French investors. The agreement for a 30 year concession for Istanbul and region was signed on 6th May 1911. The created company was named ‘Dersaâdet Telefon Anonim Şirketi’ [Constantinople Telephone Limited Company] with phone exchanges at Tahtakale with a 9,600 line capacity, Pera with 6,400, Kadıköy with 2,000 capacity, and was operational in February 1913. Views below are somewhat after this period, showing the French instructions for fire and banks of female switch-board operators from across the ethnic groups of the city.

Kadıköy exchange 1913-14 period.

Central office of the company.

Switch-board operators training in Pera.

Phone exchange building of Beyoğlu (Pera) as it stands today.

Interior of the phone exchange of Pera at the time.

Photo and news item in one of the progressive newspapers of the time (date: 6 Cemaziyelevvel 1332 = 20 Mart 1330 = 2 April 1914), although the number of Moslem women working for the company would have been a minority versus Greeks, Armenians etc. as the society was still essentially conservative.

Company group photo.

Contemporary advert for phone use.

Constantinople phone book of 1928.

General archive views of Kadıköy.