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Postal network    EN


*Professor Dr.,  19 Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey. 

A postal network of the Sublime Porte existed even in the early years of the 19th century. Those caravan pathways were functioning as a postal network too, along with service for the commercial trade activities. The delay in the delivery of letters or in the imperial issues was inevitable, not because of the lack of caravan roads, but due to the unsuitable traveling conditions and the inadequacy of transport vehicles, such as camels, horses, mules etc. The progress in steam navigation and the growth of the commercial activities in the Samsun region, involving foreign steamship companies, such as Lloyd and Majestic, and also domestic lines like Shirket-i Hayriyye (Steam Navigation Line belonging to the Porte of Ottomans) offered appropriate, safe and fast transport for the development of the postal network in the Ottoman Black Sea coast. It is known that the Lloyd Company had opened a postal agency in Samsun in 1848 and was carrying out the postal service between Istanbul and the Ottoman Black Sea shores after 1854[1]. However, it should be pointed out that the sea routes to Samsun due to the shallow waters and lack of proper port infrastructure were not easy for steamships to approach. It was after 1867 that steamers generally touched at Samsun, midway between Istanbul and Trabzon; but when the sea was rough, a frequent occurrence, they could neither load or unload cargoes[2]. Therefore, it can be assumed that the post was occasionally delayed due to weather conditions. These steamships were very good in regular delivery, because, as liners,they approached once or twice week as part of a regular schedule. The postal service thus extended its destination range to Istanbul and even further up, to Trieste or to any other European ports via the foreign steamships as regular steamship communication had been established between England and the Ottoman Black Sea ports. Messageries Maritimes also ran a regular fortnight steam line service[3]. Evidence of postal services can be found in the Sheria Sicils sources (judicial court records), that contain stamps, envelopes and letter papers of deceased people[4]. There is another Judicial Court register, which mentions that one pack of postal paper and 7 packs of letter paper sold at a price of 51 ottoman silver coins in 1868[5]. This piece of evidence proves that not only the state correspondence affairs were handled, but the locals of Samsun too used the postal service provided by the steamship agencies with the permission of the Ottoman state. As time went by, thanks to the new techniques and also to the foreign investment in the region, the transport system developed and it made trade and traveling more effective and accessible. A new highway was constructed between Samsun, Amasya and Sıvas with foreign investment. By introducing a proper highway in the Samsun region and building bridges over the rivers, streams and the valleys, carts were made available for the transportation needs. Post started to be delivered with these carts, riding with two or four horses between Samsun and the inner parts of Anatolia and as far as the towns of Kayseri. However, this transport was quite frequently disturbed by the flow of the rivers and streams, due to the heavy burst of rain in the region. Some of the Ottoman records depict the conditions of the roads, which suffered terribly because of the heavy rain falls and occasional ice blocks, coming with the rain falls from the peaks of the region and hitting the bridges on their way, causing them to tumble down. It is also reported that the postal carts delayed for weeks or sometimes even months because of the collapsed bridges[6]. According to the Ottoman Provincial Annuals, the head of the telegraph service also ran the postal service. However, in time this regulation was divided and the first registers make mention of an individual postal management in Samsun, dating to 1892. It thus became possible to trace the managers of the postal network in the Ottoman lands. Yuvan Efendi was the pioneer in running the postal affairs in Samsun[7]. He was succeeded by Fazıl Efendi in 1900[8].


[1] Mustafa Emre Kılıçarslan, Avusturya Lloyd Kumpanyası’nın Osmanlı İskelelerindeki Faaliyetleri, Ph.D. Thesis in Ondokuz Mayıs University, Samsun 2013, p.81-101. For Samsun also see page: 85.

[2] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of The Trebizond Province on British Documents 1830-1914, Vol.I, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.314.

[3] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of The Trebizond Province on British Documents 1830-1914, Vol.III, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.1150.

[4] Abdurrahman Okuyan, 1772 no’lu Samsun Sheriyya Sicils (Judical Court Registers), M.A. Thesis in Ondokuz Mayıs University, Samsun 1998, p.128. (A post stamp was charged for 5 silver otoman coins)

[5] Mehmet Coşkun, Samsun Sheriyya Sicil Defteri 1285-1286 H. (1868-1869), M.A. thesis in Ondokuz Mayıs University, Samsun 1991, p. 148. (Property a merchant from Kayseri, named Yordan, who diceased in Samsun)

[6] BOA., DH.ID., 1329 R 27, File :25/3.

[7] Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, 1892, Volume. 14, p.487.

[8] Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, 1900, Volume.18, p.409.