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Customhouses    EN


The customhouse of Samsun cleared grain, copper and lead operating equally for cargoes of military and commercial purposes. In 1828, the chief of the customhouse was Hadji Mehmet Agha. A year later Suleyman Agha was appointed in his place. After the state reforms of 1838, a manager was appointed to the Samsun customhouse and Said Efendi became its first manager. In addition to this, each jetty connected with the customhouse of Samsun had its own smaller customhouse as well. The authority in the jetties is unknown due to inadequate registers, apart from the Fatsa jetty which was ruled by Sherif Efendi in 1850. The list of ports and the jetties containing a small customhouse, as well as their ruling authorities appears in the schedule from the third quarter of the 19th century.[1]

Samsun Customhouse

Ordu Customhouse

Unye Customhouse

Samsun Ports’ Customs

Ordu Jetty’s Customs

Unye Quay’s Customs

Kumcağız Quay’s Customs

Bulancak Jetty’s Customs

Fatsa Quay Customs

Çarşamba Jetty’s Customs

Vona Jetty’s Customs


Çambaşı Pazarı Jetty’s Customs


In addition to this information on the customhouses, it could also be maintained that these regulations of the customhouses were inherited from a previous organizational system. In 1789, a list of the artillery units that were deployed to protect the jetties and the customhouses can be compared with the above list, regarding the jetties previously in existence within the Samsun vicinity. The military strength of the artillery units also depicts which quay was more important and bigger than others. According to these registers, 2 canons were deployed in order to protect the Kumcaghız quay (in Bafra) in 1789, one canon in the jetty of the mouth of Kizilirmak, 12 canons in the port of Kalyon Burnu (in Samsun), 3 canons in the quay of Therme (at the entrance to the Thermedon river) and 12 canons in the port of Unye[2]. Still, the customhouses in Samsun were run by the same staff as the other state-run customs on the shore. The manager of the customs in Samsun had authority over the staff of every customhouse on the quays and jetties. Apart from the manager, there were registrars, port guards, warehouse watchers, tax collectors, tariff controllers and duty chargers in the customhouses of Samsun[3]. The city of Samsun owned the central customhouse, where the general director of all the Ottoman Black Sea customs from Bosphorus to Batoumi was stationed. In front of this customhouse, there was a stone wharf for unloading the goods, but it had been badly built, and served only for a short period between 1868-1869[4].

After the war of 1853-1856 and the flow of Crimean immigrants[5] and an even bigger one after the 1864 Caucasian migration, there was an abundance of labor because of the population increase in the rural areas and in the city centre[6]. A new customhouse was built, along with the rebuilding of the city and the development of tobacco production. The foreign investment company which undertook the construction of the Samsun – Sivas highway (commenced in 1867 and completed in the 1890s) demanded that new piers would be built and the custom taxes would be handed over to them, in return for the construction of the highway[7]. So, it is not easy to find healthy information on the customs rates acquired from the products that were transferred to the interior or to exterior destinations, without resorting to the British consulate reports. However, it is possible to get information on the products and the amounts recorded at the Samsun customhouse. For instance, we can undesrtand from records dating to 1894 that commercial production amounting to 5,057,800 [silver coins] was sent from Samsun to the markets abroad. Although custom tax was collected from products sold abroad, such as cloth rolls, beans, nuts, apple wax, we cannot provide exact information on their value. In 1901, an export total of 75,600,800 silver coins was achieved from products such as wheat, rye, flour, flaxseed, gum, tragacanth, vegetables, fruit, cocoon, opium, tobacco, gall, eggs, wool, mohair, leather, shagreen, dry goods and others[8].


[1] Mehmet Emin Yolalıcı, XIX. Yüzyılda Canik (Samsun) Sancağının Sosyal ve Ekonomik Yapısı, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 1998, p.118-119.

[2] Mehmet Yavuz ERLER, “XIX. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Karadeniz Sahil Kalelerinin Yöre Sosyo-Ekonomik Yapısına Olan Katkıları”, International Committee of Pre-Ottoman and Ottoman Studies (CIEPO), Trabzon 2011, p.784-785.

[3] Mehmet Emin Yolalıcı, XIX. Yüzyılda Canik (Samsun) Sancağının Sosyal ve Ekonomik Yapısı, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 1998, p.119.

[4] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. I, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014,p.356.

[5] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “The Economy of the Ottoman Black Sea in the XIX th Century”, The Journal of International Social Research, Vol. 2/7, Spring 2009, p. 120-121.

[6] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “Karadenizde Avrupai Bir Kent: Samsun (1865-1875)”, Karadeniz Tarihi Sempozyumu, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi Yayınları, Vol.I, Trabzon 2007, p. 546-547.

[7] BOA., HR.TO., File Number. 449/68, 1867.3.7.

[8] Baki Sarısakal, Gezginlerin Gözüyle Amisostan Samsuna, Samsun Büyükşehir Belediyesi Yayınları, 2010 Samsun, p.212.