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INCUNABLE OF ISTANBUL LITHOGRAPHY: Au Boulet Bleu. Coueille Dégraisseur de Paris, a l’honneur de prévenir la haute Noblesse ..



Au Boulet Bleu. Coueille Dégraisseur de Paris, a l’honneur de prévenir la haute Noblesse et l’estimable Public de Constantinople qu’il a ouvert un magasin a Dégraissage en face du Palais de Galata-Sérail.
Il enlève toutes sortes de taches de n’importe quelle étoffe que ce soit, sans altérer les couleurs; il rêmet les effets a neuf et leur donne leur lustre primitif. On parle chez lui les langues ci-écrites afin de pouvoir s’entendre avec les personnes qui voudront bien voudront bien l’honorer de leur confiance.


A rare broadside, advertising services of a French fabric cleaner for upper classes in Istanbul and printed in in French, Ottoman, Italian, Greek, German and Armeno-Turkish, was architected by the first lithographer in Istanbul, Henri Cayol.


Lithography, 41 x 32 cm (16.1 x 12.6 inches), (soft folds, little age-toning and foxing, but overall in a good condition).



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This stunningly rare and engaging broadside was published in Istanbul, by the first lithographer of the Ottoman capital, Henry Cayol. The advertisement for a Parisian fabric cleaner, situated in a upper class Istanbul neighbourhood, was printed in six languages and could be translated as:

Au Boulet Bleau. Coueille, the Fabric Cleaner from Paris, has the honor of informing the high nobility and the estimable public of Constantinople that he has opened a fabric cleaning store opposite the Galatasaray Palace.

He removes all kinds of stains from any fabric, without altering the colors; he restores the effects to new and gives them their original luster. We speak the languages here written in order to be able to communicate with the people who will be willing to honor him with their confidence.

The languages engaged are French, Ottoman, Italian, Greek, German and Armeno-Turkish, which was Old Turkish (i. e. Ottoman) language, written with Armenian letters.

The broadside captures the celebrated international and multilingual atmosphere of the 19th century Istanbul.


Lithography in Istanbul

Lithography was introduced to the Islamic World in the second and third decade of the 19th century. Although much more appropriate for reproducing a hand-written text and calligraphy of the Arabic script than movable type, lithography was often frowned upon as a cheap technique, and was only slowly replacing the letterpress.

Possibly the first press to introduce lithography to the Islamic world was the Bulaq press in Egypt, under the influence from France and Italy. The first mentioning of a lithographic workshop at the Bulaq press in Egypt is that by an American traveller G. B. English, who saw a lithographed newspaper in Italian and Arabic, made by the School of Engineering in 1822 (A Narrative of the Expedition to Dongola and Sennaar, London 1822, p. viii. In: Hsu Cheng Hsiang, The first Thirty Years of Arabic Printing in Egypt 1238-1267, 1822-1851, p. 57).

Books, made in the early years of the Bulaq press, would often use the technology of lithograph for illustrations in printed books on the subjects of the military science and mathematics. The first known lithographed book, issued other than the Bulaq press, was made in 1832 at the School of Medicine in Cairo (established in 1827).

The first lithographic press in Persia was brought from Tiflis in 1821, but the first recorded book, The Quran, was only published in 1832/1833.

The first Muslim books, produced in the technique of lithography in Asia, were published in India under the influence of East India Company, who brought lithographic presses there in 1823, yet the first book was not issued until 1827.

Henri Cayol – First Lithographer in Istanbul

In Istanbul, Hüsrev Pasha’s lithographic press at the Ministry of War from 1831, with its first book produced in the same year, was one of the first functional lithographic presses in the Islamic World, after the Bulaq (1822) and Indian presses (1827).

The new Pasha’s printer and lithographer was Henri Cayol, a lawyer from Marseille, who opened the lithographic press together with his cousin Jacques Cayol. The modern printing equipment was imported from Paris.

The lithographic press was running in the building of the Ministry of War from 1831, when they published this first book, titled Nukhbat al-talim (The Elite Education, please click here for a longer description: FIRST LITHOGRAPHED BOOK, ISSUED IN ISTANBUL: نخبة التعليم. طابور تعليمى  ), with 79 charts representing for training the battalions, to 1836, when Hürsev Pasha was removed from the office. During these 5 years, 50 soldiers were trained by Cayol at the press to learn the technique of lithography.

In 1836, Henri Cayol, still under Hürsev Pasha’s wing, opened a lithographic press near the French Embassy, where he worked until his death from cholera in 1865. This period of Cayol’s work, when also our broadside had to be made, is still very insufficiently documented.

Cayol’s lithograph shop was after his death taken over by his apprentice Antonije Zelić, a Croatian, born in Brela, Dalmatia in 1820, who moved to Istanbul 1840 for economic reasons. After learning the craft of lithography from his teacher, Zelić opened his own shop in 1855.

The lithography in Istanbul was scarce and expensive to make, as the stones had to be imported until 1892, when they discovered appropriate stone south of Istanbul. More common, especially for the religious prints was much cheaper photolithography.

All the books from the Cayol’s press are exceedingly rare. This is the first Cayol’s broadside we have ever encountered.



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