'Dinos Thonet Rattan Chair Atelier'... A chair workshop that was founded by Hurmuzios Vafiadis and operated in the Küçük Yeni Han from 1910s to 1960s. You often come across Dinos' name in the 2mi3museum project. In fact, in May 2020, we shared with you our research titled 'The Vafiadis: On The Trail of an Atelier', which we prepared with the information we have reached until that day. We always searched for Dinos Chair Atelier, and found different advertisements, documents about it in newspapers and archives. Here on this article, we would like to share with you the documents of this relatively famous chair workshop of a period with their examinations.
What we learned from the told stories in our family that our ancestors were carpenters in Istanbul. We said 'learned' cause no one in the family was working as a carpenter since 1960s. But from the stories told, we knew where our workshop was, what kind of items they produced, some of their big works, business relationships. Even though we never dialed the phone number of the workshop, we knew it: 23377. Unfortunately, nothing physically except a wooden box that made in this atelier, left today in our family archives. But there must be ephemeras - an invoice, a business card, a brochure - of this relatively famous workshop somewhere. Luckily the internet archives are growing everyday. When we were searching for Dinos on previous years we could only find an advertisement on a newspaper and a brand registry. But now we know that Dinos advertisement has been published on twenty three newspapers and we also found the business card of Hurmuzios Vafiadis on one of the notable archives of Turkey, SALT. Before getting into details, let's check this business card.
When we first look at this business card, we can see from the drawings that the prominent products of Dinos Chair Atelier were chairs and coat racks. Under the company name it writes 'Hürmüz ve Şki.' which means 'Hurmuzios and Partners'. After this section, the address of the workshop, which we already know from family memories, is written: Çakmakçılar, Sandaliyeciler Sokagı, Küçük Yeni Han, No: 16. At the bottom we see the phone number of the atelier which was a kind of a proof of the told stories in our family, 23377. As told in the begining of our article, we didn't have any ephemeras related with Dinos in our archives. That's why we search regularly on internet, with the hope of finding in an online store or auction. As the 'Dinos' keyword is not enough, we mostly search this name together with the phone number. Finally one day we found it in the SALT archives and it was just recently published. We hope that one day we will find another copy of this card as this is not the only one.
Milli Sinema & Dinos:
We knew from family memories that Dinos Chair Atelier started its activities in 1920s. We found the only written evidence that the workshop was active in these years in the Annuaire Oriental Yearbooks, which are also in the SALT archives. Not as Dinos, but under the surname Vafiadis and under the Chair Manufacturers (Chaises) profession... One of the most important works of the workshop was the chair and furniture works of the cinema, Milli Sinema in Şehzadebaşı. Hurmuzios Vafiadis got this job thanks to his close friend Kadri Bey, one of the operating partners of Milli Sinema. What we are not sure about is the year in which this job was undertaken. Is it the period when the Milli Sinema first opened in the 1910s or in the 1930s? If they were made in the 1910s, the chairs in the photo below must have come from Hurmuzios' workshop.
But in these years Hurmuzios was very young, about eighteen or twenty years old. Moreover, the emphasis on 'cinema seats' in the advertisements of the 1930s, which you will soon encounter, seemed to indicate that this chair business for the Milli Sinema was made in those years. Who knows, maybe in the movie The Vagabond King, which was screened in this theater on January 8, 1931, the audience was seated on Dinos chairs.
Dinos in Newspaper Ads:
As we mentioned at the beginning of our article, Dinos Chair Atelier was first seen in the Son Telegraf newspaper dated December 27, 1937, in our previous research. However, with the opening of the archives, we learned that this was not the only announcement of the workshop. Between 1937-1939, Dinos had advertised twenty three times in different newspapers. It appeared in six newspapers in 1937, five in 1938, and twelve in 1939. These newspapers were Aksam, Cumhuriyet, Haber, Ikdam, Kurun, Son Posta, Son Telegraf and Vakit. Ads were usually posted in December and January. Namely; In 1937, five announcements were made in December, one in November, in 1938 all five in December, and in 1939 12 in January. Maybe it was a marketing strategy.
When we look at the main headlines of the newspapers between November 1937 and January 1939 where the Dinos Chair Atelier was advertised, we see that the news giving the signals of the World War II took place on the agenda. Tensions between France and Italy, America and Japan were in the headlines, and the names of Mussolini and Franco became frequently mentioned during this period. But daily life, accidents, murders and even magazine topics were also featured on the homepages. In our opinion, the image that best summarizes this period was shared by Haber newspaper on January 1, 1939. Under the image it writes: We are living the first day of the new year. Haber congratulates the Turkish nation in 1939 and wishes the new year to be beneficial for all humanity. Let's hope that the year 1939, which started with a great arms race, does not witness the use of these weapons against civilization!
During this period when Dinos Chair Atelier was frequently advertising in the newspapers, Hurmuzios was undoubtedly unaware that he would be called up for military service for the second time in 1941 and would be subject to the Wealth Tax immediately after that, due to the Second World War, for which the newspaper headlines of this period signaled. Maybe he thought that the next years of himself and his workshop would be very good when he was making these announcements. Anyway, let's leave this issue aside and start examining the Dinos newspaper advertisements, which form the basis of our article.
Dinos In The Newspapers of 1937:
As a result of the information we have obtained so far, Dinos Chair Atelier placed its first advertisement in the 'Haber' newspaper dated 25 November 1937. The same advertisement was published in the newspapers 'Son Telegraf' and 'Haber' on 13 December 1937. The text of this advertisement is as below:
Important Advertisement. Government offices, School, Cinema, Theatre, Casino, Restaurant and Coffeehouse. To the attention of the Honorable Directors: All kinds of ready-made and custom-made chairs, armchairs, coat racks, portable tables and cinema seats are available at No 13 at the Küçük Yeni Han in Çakmakçılar: the famous DINOS contemporary chairs are sold in good condition, guaranteed and at unbeatable prices. European thonet rattan chair from 175 cents and seat from 275 cents. Wholesale and retail. Look for the Dinos brand everywhere. Phone: 23377
Dinos' advertisement was published in Kurun and Haber newspapers on December 18, 1937, and in Haber newspaper on December 22, 1937. But this time, unlike the previous ads, images were added to the ad. The added coat rack and chair images would be featured in all Dinos' future advertisements. In these last advertisements of 1937, the advertisement text is as follows:
The most modern and solid chairs, armchairs, coat racks, portable tables, cinema seats with the famous Dinos brand are sold as a guarantee at uncompetitive prices. Official offices, schools, cinemas, theatres, casinos, restaurants and coffee shops preferably look for the Dinos brand. The European thonet rattan chair is sold in our establishment for 175 cents and the chair for 275 cents. Note the address. Çakmakcılar, Küçük Yeni Han No.13. Phone: 23377
While examining the advertisements, an error in the advertisements dated 18 December caught our attention. Unlike the advertisements that will come before and after, the price of the chair is written as 775 kuruş. Maybe the posting on December 22nd is for this bug to be fixed.
Dinos In The Newspapers of 1938:
Dinos Chair Atelier, which remained silent in newspaper advertisements until the end of 1938, once again made advertisements in December 1938. The workshop, which was featured in Kurun newspaper three times, appeared once in the newspaper Cumhuriyet and once in AkSam newspaper. Ads were posted on 10, 14, 23 and 24 December.
There is a difference in the Cumhuriyet newspaper advertisement of Dinos, which usually advertises with a coat hanger and a chair drawing. This ad was published with two chair drawings, who knows, maybe it's a special request or a typographical error. Although a year has passed since 1937, the content of the advertisement text is exactly the same. Even the prices have not changed.
Dinos In The Newspapers of 1939:
With the end of December 1938, Dinos Chair Atelier continued to place advertisements in the newspapers the following month. 1939 was the year Dinos advertised the most, with twelve advertisements. These advertisements, which were given in January 1939, were published in six different newspapers. These newspapers were; Haber, Vakit, Ikdam, Cumhuriyet, Aksam and Son Posta.
When we look at the advertisements in the year 1939, we see that the text of the advertisement has not changed. It is noteworthy that in some of the advertisements different fonts are used, in some of them the title is written in red colors. Some of the advertisements contain spelling mistakes.
From the informations we have obtained in our research until now, we see that Dinos Chair Atelier has not been seen in any media after 1939. Of course, we never know what time will bring us. Maybe a brochure, an invoice, a stamp, any document belonging to the workshop may appear again in the future. Interestingly, in the 2mi3museum family archive, where everything is kept, not a single document about Dinos Chair Atelier has emerged. Apart from the document, we do not have a chair or coat hanger that came out of this workshop in our homes. All that remained of Dinos was the stories told, an unforgettable phone number and a wooden box made by Hurmuzios Vafiadis's son Aleko Vafiadis in this workshop in the early 1950s. This box was used as a sewing box by Aleko's wife, Giuseppina, until her last days.
As well as looking for a Dinos-related document in second-hand bookshops, we also look specifically for a tonet chair that caught our eye in antiques stores, hoping it might have come from Hurmuzios' workshop. Who knows, maybe there is an old Dinos chair in the house of our dear readers or in the house of his family. If so, please don't hesitate to contact us!
Written by: 2mi3, May 2022
* Below on the links , you can find the newspapers which have been told in this article and the link of business card.
3- 1937 December 13, Son Telgraf
9- 1938 December 23, Cumhuriyet
18- 1939 January 18, Cumhuriyet
20- 1939 January 21, Son Posta
24- Business Card of Dinos at SALT Archives