An unusual, rare, crudely made Ottoman composite blank atlas, made of 10 different maps of the world countries, regions and continents, with repeating examples bringing the total of maps to 66, was made as an improvised manual and exercise book for the courses in geography at the Military School in Istanbul.
The author was an Ottoman educator on this institution, Mehmed Remzi, who wrote at least five manuals on geography.
The atlas includes the following maps:
– Map of the World in two hemispheres with mountain elevations and North Pole projection (6 examples), – Map of the World – Mercator’s projection (6 examples), – Europe (11 examples, 7 of which are coloured and partly annotated in Ottoman and Latin), – The Balkans, with in-set maps of the Dardanelles and the connection between the Athens and Piraeus (1 example, coloured and filled in), – Asia (9 examples, 4 of which are coloured), – Turkey, Persia and the Arabic Peninsula (2 examples), – Africa with in-set maps (12 examples, 1 of which is coloured), – North America (6 examples), – South America (7 examples), – Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, (6 examples, printed on different paper).
The maps mostly concentrate on the geography of the world and almost entirely omit the European countries. The atlas could be probably ordered with various numbers of different maps, according to the need of the user (Please see David Rumsey Map Collection for the same atlas with different maps and collation).
The atlas does not original wrappers with the title, but could be identified as Yazısız Harita Defteri, or a Notebook of Blank Maps, prepared by Remzi in 1900. The list of Ottoman books on geography lists the title, but the author could not find any examples of this atlas in order to list the maps (Osmanlı coğrafya literatürü tarihi. History of Geographical Literature during the Ottoman Period, 2000, p. 394).
In 1905, Mehmed Remzi published another atlas, called Cografya-yi ʻumumī atḷası (Atlas of General Geography), which contained 23 maps, including the ones from our book, but this time chromolithographed in colour and accompanied with names.
Our composed atlas was made during the late period of sultan Abdul Hamid II for the school classes in geography, which were strictly controlled by the Ministry of Education. The student was supposed to annotate the maps as a part of the learning procedure.
We could only find one other example of the atlas in Western institutions, but with different collation (David Rumsey Historical Map Collection).
References: Osmanlı coğrafya literatürü tarihi. History of Geographical Literature during the Ottoman Period, 2000, pp. 392, 394; Cf. Mehmet ALKAN, Kemal H. KARPAT, ed., Ottoman Past and Today’s Turkey. Modernisation from Empire to Republic and Education in the Process of Modernisation, 2000, p. 75.