Pocket Atlas of the Ottoman Empire

Hilmi, Ibrahim. Memâlik-i Osmânîye cep atlasi. Devlet-i `Aliye-i Osmânîyenin ahvâl-i cografya ve istatistikiyesi.

Istanbul, Ibrahim Hilmi, [1907 CE =] 1323 Rumi.

Small 8vo. 8, 328 pp. With 64 colour lithographed plates of maps and diagrams. Original light brown cloth bearing elaborate Ottoman Art Nouveau designs.


This edition of Hilmi's "Pocket Atlas" captures the Ottoman Empire during the twilight of the Hamidian Era, when it still controlled territories on three continents, extending from Albania to Yemen. With 64 highly attractive colour lithographic plates, the atlas features an especially extensive collation of thematic maps and diagrams, more that we have encountered in other issues, including detailed maps of the empire's various vilayets. Notably, the book's coverage of the Arabian Peninsula is excellent, with a double-page map of the entire peninsula; a custom map of the route of the Hejaz Railway (due to be extended as far south as Medina in 1908); a map of the Basra Vilayet (with southern Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, as well as parts of today's Saudi Arabia); as well as separate maps of Yemen and Asir.

Ibrahim Hilmi Cigiracan (1876-1963) was one of the most important publishers and cartographers of the late Ottoman Empire. Born in Tulcea (now in Romania), he founded his first printing shop in Istanbul in 1896, under the name "Kitaphane-i Islami" (Islamic Library), largely producing religious books. Subsequently, Hilmi became interested in military affairs, geography and history, and changed the name of his press to "Kitaphane-i Islam ve Askeri" (Islamic and Military Library). He published about 200 military books, and his atlases (especially his "Pocket Atlas") were among the most popular cartographic items throughout the empire. During WWI, Hilmi gained the affection of the public for his charitable programme of sending free books to poor children in Anatolia.

Hilmi's enterprise thrived until Atatürk's Republican regime nationalized the publishing of law and school books in the 1920s, undercutting the most lucrative part of his business. However, Hilmi left an enduring legacy, having published over a thousand books on a wide variety of topics over three decades.

Binding worn with a few chips of minor loss, especially along hinges, but holding firm; old repairs to lower margin of upper cover. Internally light, even toning to text pages and some marginal chips to few leaves and plates, not affecting printed area. Maps generally clean and bright, just some offsetting to 4 maps. A fine edition.

OCLC 1014526531.