The trials and tribulations of a Dutch Merchant in Istanbul: auctions at the Dutch Embassy in the eighteenth-century Ottoman capital
Cornelissen Aydemir, Marloes (2015) The trials and tribulations of a Dutch Merchant in Istanbul: auctions at the Dutch Embassy in the eighteenth-century Ottoman capital. In: III. Uluslararası Osmanlı İstanbulu Sempozyumu, İstanbul, Türkiye
The Dutch Embassy in Istanbul held auctions in order to sell any goods left behind usually upon death by members of the Dutch ‘nation’ living there. Similar to Renaissance and early-modern Europe, traditionally auctions were held to settle debts and raise income to support widows or orphans. Between 1725 and 1750 sixteen of these auctions have been recorded. They concern the possessions of merchants and other members of the Dutch nation. This paper will discuss which types of commodities were sold, to whom they were sold and finally will consider one specific auction. This particular case concerned the auction of Ankara-based Dutch mohair merchant Abraham de la Fontaine and his wife Petronella Gasparina. After his bankruptcy and following arrest for a number of crimes, De la Fontaine was taken to Istanbul, where he was imprisoned. His capitulatory protection was withdrawn and the case continued at the Divan-ı Hümayun. In 1740 he requested the public sale of his belongings that were kept in the Dutch Embassy, so he could pay off some pressing debts. A registration was made in the chancery records that his wife owned three baskets with jewellery and clothes. At closer inspection, the contents of the baskets are the items that were put up for sale. The paper will subsequently discuss these belongings as well as their buyers. These commodities, as forms of material culture, provide an entry into the relatively new approach of material culture within the field of Ottoman studies, and give insights in the mixed material wealth of eighteenth-century Ottoman Istanbul.
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