Ottomans’ first printed books displayed for visitors
The first editions of unique books printed by the Ottomans have been exhibited at a library in Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University.
İbrahim Müteferrika, who is the first printer of the Ottoman period, printed rare collections such as Lügat-i Vankulu in 1729, two books by celebrated author Katib Çelebi on naval wars with maps and drawings, and the first editions of Plato’s works. All of them are exhibited at the Aptullah Kuran Library.
Boğaziçi University’s library has archives dating back to 1863.
The library’s rare archives were established with Cyrus Hamlin’s donation of 200 books from Harvard College to Robert College, which was a predecessor of Boğazici University. The collection was later developed by further donations and purchases.
Rare collections, including nearly 29,000 unique books, are protected in the library’s special storage under proper temperature.
İbrahim Müteferrika’s print house, established in his own home in Fatih district of Istanbul with a royal edict in 1727, printed 17 works and seven more after his death. Thirteen of those 17 works and three of them printed after his death are included among the rare collections exhibited.
The first printed book of Müteferrika press Lugat-i Vankulu, printed in 1729, is one of the most important works exhibited in the rare collections.
The first Turkish book about the U.S., Tarihu’l-Hindu’l-Garbi, was printed in 1730. Katib Çelebi’s “Cihannüma,” printed in 1732, and his “Tuhfetü’l-Kibar Fi Esfari’l-Bihar,” printed in 1729 on naval wars, were other rare books.
The oldest book of the collections is the first edition of Plato’s works published in Venice in 1513. The book, written in the Greek alphabet, is one of Aldine editions printed by Renaissance era’s printers Aldus Manutius in his print house in 1494 in Venice.
Another work of the collection printed by the same press is Athens politician Demosthenes’s speech in 1527.
Other significant books in the rare collections were donated from Tevfik Fikret’s library by his wife Nazime Hanım after his death.
Another attractive piece in the collection, a Moorish style written calligraphy piece, is a book by philosopher Ahikar, Assyrian king Sennacherib’s chief counsellor. In the early 1800s, the work is estimated to have been copied from pre-Christian Syriac literature, and is one of the oldest examples of Assyrian literature that have survived to date.
The collection also includes works written in various languages such as Latin, German, English, Ottoman, Arabic, Hebrew, Karaman Language, and Armenian from the 16th to the 20th centuries, with Cyrillic, Arab, Armenian, Hebrew, Gothic and Latin alphabets.
There are still many books exhibited in rare collections donated by Harvard College, Sevgi Atila Cünüş, Boğazici University’s librarian, told state-run Anadolu Agency.
The library was enriched with various donations by renowned Turkish intellectuals also after being transferred from Robert College to Boğaziçi University, she added.
The collections include pieces in a variety of styles such as manuscripts and Ottoman-era print pieces as well as some of the oldest European works from 1513.