Two large early photographs showing of Ertugrul frigate’s crew all together before sinking and commemorating monument of the tragedy with the tombstones of some crew, including small but historically significant account of the event on marginalia

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HACI RÂSIM BEY (1859-after1910) & NAKAMATSU, S. (Japanese photographer of Kushimoto).

S. Nakamatsu, Kushimoto, [Istanbul & Kushimoto], [c. 1899].

COMPLETE TITLE: [OTTOMAN FRIGATE ERTUGRUL / JAPAN & MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS / PHOTOGRAPHY] Two large early photographs showing of Ertugrul frigate’s crew all together before sinking and commemorating monument of the tragedy with the tombstones of some crew, including small but historically significant account of the event on marginalia.

Original two large albumen prints mounted on cardboard, one is blind stamped “S. Nakamatsu, Kushimoto”. Sizes: 24x19 cm (photographic areas: 16x12 cm). Full handwritten marginalia in Ottoman script. The second photo is slightly oxidized in the upper right corner. Otherwise, very good photographs.

Extremely rare photographs including full handwritten marginalia including brief accounts of the Ertugrul Event in Ottoman script by apparently Haci Râsim Bey (1859-after1910) who was the Grand Consule of Batavia Islands. The first photograph showing around 60 crews was taken in the signal hall of the Ottoman frigate near Kushimoto, where Ertugrul was tragically sunk in 1890, and it was copied by Haci Râsim Bey to present to the Club of the Ottoman Naval Forces as a mourning souvenir in 1905, according to the manuscript text.

The second photograph shows the Frigate Ertugrul Memorial Monument (present day, it’s a museum as well), and a Muslim Turkish cleric sitting at the foot of one of the symbolic tombstones and reading the Quran. This photo’s margins are full of handwritten text apparently by Haci Râsim Bey, which is very informative about this monument(s) and Ertugrul’s navigation. In the photograph, all tombstones were hand-numbered, and the text explains who each one was erected for.

The upper margin of the first photograph reads:

“Caponya’da Usima Ceziresinde [i.e., Kushimoto] karaya vuran Ertugrul firkateyn-i sahânesi kurbanlari olub mezkûr adada isaret dairesi salonunda ihtirâm olan fotograftan istinsah etdirilub batarya bassehbender sabiki Haci Rasim Bey tarafindan Bahriye-i Osmâniye Klubü’ne bir yadigâr-i mâtemgüzâr olmak üzere ahz û takdîm kilinmisdir. Fî 12 Subat sene 1321, Tokyo”.

[i.e., It was copied from the photograph of the victims of the frigate Ertugrul, which ran aground and sank on Kushimoto Island in Japan and was respectfully taken in the signal hall on the mentioned island and was presented to the Club of the Ottoman Naval Forces as a mourning souvenir by former Grand Consule of Batavia, Haci Rasim Bey. Dated 12 February 1905, Tokyo. (Signature): Râsim(?).

Ertugrul, launched in 1863, was a sailing frigate of the Ottoman Navy. While returning from a goodwill voyage to Japan in 1890, she encountered a typhoon off the coast of Wakayama Prefecture, subsequently drifted into a reef, and sank. The shipwreck resulted in the loss of more than 500 sailors and officers, including Rear Admiral Ali Osman Pasha. Only 69 sailors and officers survived and returned home later aboard two Japanese corvettes. The event is still commemorated as a foundation stone of the Japanese-Turkish friendship.

Ertugrul, ordered in 1854 by Ottoman Sultan Abdülâziz (reigned 1861-1876), was built in the Taskizak Shipyard (Tersâne-i Âmire) in Galata of Istanbul (Constantinople) and was launched on 19 October 1863 in the presence of the Sultan. She was named after Ertugrul (13th century), the father of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. A three-mast wooden ship, she was 79 m (260 ft) long, 15.5 m (51 ft) wide and had a draft of 8 m (26 ft). The frigate sailed to England in 1864, where she had steam engines and state-of-the-art machinery installed, including electrical lighting. On 18 February 1865, she left Portsmouth to return home with two other ships of the Ottoman Navy, Kosovo, and Hüdavendigâr, visiting some French and Spanish ports on the way. After arriving in Istanbul, she dropped anchor for a while in the Bosphorus in front of the Dolmabahçe Palace and later took part in the campaign against the Cretan Revolt in 1866. Subsequently, she was locked up in Golden Horn during the reign of Abdul Hamid II (1876-1909). In November 1878, the sloop Seiki of the Japanese Imperial Navy arrived in Istanbul en route to a training mission in Europe, where the envoy was received by Sultan Abdul Hamid II and honored with various medals.

In 1881, a mission led by diplomat Masaharu Yoshida came to the court of Yildiz Palace to conclude agreements relating to trade and wartime status. Upon the visit by Prince Komatsu Akihito to İstanbul in October 1887 and the presentation of Japan's highest order, the Order of the Chrysanthemum, to the Sultan, the government of the Ottoman Empire decided to send a ship on a goodwill voyage to Japan in return. The Grand Vizier Kâmil Pasha sent a note on 14 February 1889 to the head of the navy, Bozcaadali Hasan Hüsnü Pasha, asking for the name and possible departure date of a battleship, which was suitable to sail to the seas of Indochina and Japan to put the theoretical knowledge of the Naval Academy graduates into practice.

On 25 February 1889, Hasan Hüsnü Pasha informed the Grand Vizier that the frigate Ertugrul was suitable for the assignment and could accomplish the preparations required within one week and set sail within one month. The real reason for the journey and its importance was revealed then by the Grand Vizier as a goodwill visit to Japan for the presentation of gifts and the highest decoration of the Ottoman Empire, the "Medal of High Honor", from the Sultan to the Japanese Emperor. Another aim of the voyage was to wave the Ottoman flag across the Indian Ocean. The ship, having been in service for 25 years, was overhauled shortly before the voyage, and most of the hull's wooden parts were renewed. Ertugrul, with 607 (disputed figure) sailors -including 57 officers- on board, was instructed to set sail from İstanbul on 14 July 1889, under the command of Captain Ali Osman Bey. The initial route was designed to make various necessary stops on the way. The first stop was planned in Marmaris and the next one in Port Said before the passage through the Suez Canal. Visits in Aden and Somalia would follow the stay in Jeddah. Considering the seasonal winds, the ship would stop by at Pondicherry and Calcutta in India. After staying in Port Akabod and Singapore, she would carry on to Malacca by way of the Strait of Malacca. Proceeding to the north, the ship would make a stop by Saigon and then in some docks in China to arrive in Hong Kong. Amoy and Shanghai would be the last stops before reaching Japan. Finally, after a stay in Nagasaki, the ship would arrive at her destination in Yokohama. The return was scheduled in October of the same year. The ship experienced some problems during her long journey. On 26 July 1889, she entered the Suez Canal and ran ashore in Great Bitter Lake, resulting in a destroyed stern post and a lost rudder. After repairs, Ertugrul set sail again on 23 September. While sailing in the western Indian Ocean, the ship took on water from the bow. The crew was unable to conduct the necessary repairs until they reached Singapore. Ertugrul was repaired in Singapore and departed on 22 March 1890. After a ten-day stop in Saigon, she arrived in Yokohama on 7 June 1890. The journey from Istanbul lasted around eleven months. Captain Ali Osman Bey was promoted to the rank of (Commodore/Rear Admiral) during the journey. In Yokohama, Rear Admiral Ali Osman Pasha and the officers were received by Emperor Meiji of Japan on 13 June 1890. The gifts and the medals sent by Sultan Abdul Hamid II were presented to their intended recipients. Ali Osman Pasha was honoured with the First-Class Order of the Rising Sun, and Skipper Ali Bey with the Third-Class Order of the Rising Sun. Other navy officers were also decorated with medals. Subsequently, Ottoman officers were received by the Empress. On 14 June 1890, young Prince Yoshihito Haru received the Ottoman Rear Admiral. On the following days, many receptions, dinners, and ceremonies took place. During her stay of three months in Japan, the Ertugrul frigate lost twelve crew members to an epidemic. At noon on 15 September 1890, Ertugrul set sail from Yokohama for Istanbul. At the time of departure, the weather conditions were good, but the next morning a reverse wind began to blow, getting stronger towards evening. By nightfall, the wind came from below the bow so that the sails had to be folded. At the same time, violent waves began beating against the ship, which, under severe trial, could hardly make headway. The 40 m (130 ft) high mizzen mast collapsed and caused severe damage by shaking from side to side and banging into the other (rigging) sails. As the storm continued gaining power, waves coming from the bow separated the deck boards from the front. Water broke through into the coal depots in the boiler room. Over the next four days, the crew tried to repair the damage by remedying the sails and tightening the shrouds. They also continuously tried to empty the water out of the coal containers (which were the ones most seriously in danger) using buckets, since the pumps were insufficient. Despite all their efforts, the ship's disintegration was imminent, and the only option was to seek sanctuary in a nearby port. They headed to Kobe, within 10 miles (16 km) of the ship, in the gulf beyond the Kashinozaki Cape with Oshima Lighthouse. Seawater breaking through finally extinguished one of the furnaces in the engine room. Almost immobile without main sails and sufficient propulsion, and having only the wind and the waves behind, Ertugrul drifted towards the dangerous rocks at the eastern coast of Kii Ôshima. As the crew tried to stop the ship before the rocks by emergency anchoring, she crashed onto the reefs and fell apart at the first impact around midnight on 18 September 1890. At the site of the incident, more than 500 sailors, of whom fifty were officers including the commander Rear Admiral Ali Osman Pasha, lost their lives. Only six officers and sixty-three sailors survived. Six of the survivors were uninjured, nine severely wounded and the others sustained light injuries. After the rescue operation, two survivors were taken to Kobe by Japanese ships, two more by a Japanese battleship and sixty-five by German gunboats. All the sixty-nine survivors were transported back to Istanbul aboard the Japanese corvettes Kongô and Hiei, leaving Shinagawa, Tokyo, in October 1890. The Sultan met with the officers of the Japanese ships on 5 January 1891 and expressed his appreciation for the relief operation by decorating them with medals.

Overall, these historically interesting photographs are excessively rare in the market.