When we check the history of the families, we can see that most of them specialized in a profession. For example, some families tell that they are restaurateurs for ages or some of them tell that they are blacksmiths…etc. In some families those professions change over time and no one works on ancestral profession.…like in Vafiadis Family. Here in this article we would like to share with you the results of our researches which we started with the memories of our family and a name of an atelier. The Vafiadis: On The Trails of an Atelier
For many years, from generation to generation, it has been told that the profession of Vafiadis Family was chair manufacturing, their ateliers were in Küçük Yeni Han and around it, also the name of the atelier of Hurmuzios Vafiadis was ‘Dinos Chair Atelier’ and he manufactured the chairs of ‘Milli Sinema’ – an old cinema theater… Besides, we also know that Hurmuzios purchased ‘Küçük Yeni Han’ room by room, but in time those rooms in the inn were sold both because of necessity and because of the sudden death of Hurmuzios and his son not being interested in this profession. But it’s strange that there are not any document or objects except of a wooden box, from the year 1880s-1960s. Since it was an important thing to own an inn once, we believed that it would be better to investigate this issue and follow the trails of an atelier.
Stavros Vafiadis (1871- 1939)
Hurmuzios Vafiadis (1896- 1960)
After the earthquake that happened in Chios, in 1881, Stavros Vafiadis migrated to Istanbul from his island and started to work in the basement of an atelier where was at the entrance of Küçük Yeni Han, in Ramp of Çakmakçılar, Sandalyeciler Street. Here he was manufacturing chairs and stools from rattan. Maybe it was a known profession from his father or maybe he learnt in Istanbul, for the moment it’s unclear. When he was on the age of marriage, he married with a girl named Efrosinni from Trilye and they had nine children. Unfortunately three of those children died when they were babies, but the rest of siblings grew up and interested in the profession of their fathers and by time they opened their ateliers. On those days, every same kind of profession had it’s own area in Istanbul (it’s still like that), and the ateliers of Vafiadis siblings were in the same street, Sandalyeciler Str., and around the inn ‘Küçük Yeni Han’.
Before getting into the details of our article let's share some information about the old inn, Küçük Yeni Han. Istanbul, especially Eminönü is full of old inns. Some of them are so famous but some of them lost their importance by time, and we have very less information about them. Küçük Yeni Han is located in Eminönü, in the street of Sandalyeciler which means chair manufacturers, on the ramp of Çakmakçılar. There are more information about another inn which is so close to this one, Büyük Yeni Han, and by those informations we learnt that Küçük Yeni Han was built in 1764 (estimated). The architecture style of Küçük Yeni Han is Classic Ottoman and it has been built by architect Mehmet Tahir Aga, during the reign of Mustafa III. There are two entrances of Inn, one of them located in Sandalyeciler Street and the other one in Tarakçılar Street. As it was built on a ramp area, the inn has two floors from one side and three floors from the other. The inn is very close to Sultan Mustafa Mosque and Saka Cesme Fountain. Here on photos you can see the details of Kucuk Yeni Han.
Kucuk Yeni Han and Sandalyeciler Street on Pervititch Maps
Kucuk Yeni Han, Saka Cesme Fountain &Sandalyeciler Street - 2018
Aleko Vafiadis, Minas Vafiadis and friends in Sandalyeciler Street - 1950s
The children of Stavros Vafiadis ( Hurmuzios, Yorgos, Minas, Apostol, Koco ) had ateliers in the inn and also around it. As a grandson of Hurmuzios Vafiadis, we have much more information about him and his works, of course by the stories that told. In last years we started to investigate those stories from archives if we can find any written information and here we would like to share with you the results. According to those stories, Hurmuzios had a small room in Küçük Yeni Han. Also when he married, he lived here together with his wife Ashen. He had a small team who manufactured the rattan and wooden chairs. It was before the electrical machines and all the work was done by hand. Hurmuzios was buying lumbers from a supplier which was owned by a Jewish businessman. The name of this businessman was Albert Alkalay. Here you can see his name that has been found in the Annuaire Oriental Yearbooks, 1938.
Albert Alkalay - Oriental Yearbooks,1938
The business relations between Hurmuzios and Albert Alkalay were without any problem. The deliveries and payment were always on time. Albert also had relations with abroad and saw different technologies. One day he offered Hurmuzios if he want to buy a machine to cut and shape the lumbers easily. This machine was in Germany. Hurmuzios worried about its price, but Alkalay told him that he can pay in installments. After that, the works of Hurmuzios got faster. One of the biggest business that made by Hurmuzios were manufacturing the chairs of a cinema theater. This theater was owned by a friend of Hurmuzios named Kadri in Şehzadebaşı, İstanbul. Honestly, we didn't know the name of cinema theater. But when we checked the cinema theaters in Şehzadebaşı with the owner name Kadri, we learnt that it's the 'Milli Sinema' which was famous in 1900s. Kadri was not the owner of theater but he was the business partner of Cevat Aziz Boyer who opened this theater under name of Imperial Cinema in 1914, but after renamed as 'Milli Sinema'. This cinema also has the feature of being the first established cinema hall opened by the Turks in Istanbul.
As we've checked a lot the annual yearbooks in Salt Research, we couldn't find any information about Hurmuzios. But we only could check the online archives, maybe we have to check the archives in the place. During our search in those Salt Archives we found the brother of Hurmuzios, Yorgos, as a chair manufacturer in Küçük Yeni Han. Also in 1924-1925 archives we found a name which excited us; it writes Stavri ( a form of Stavros ) under chair manufacturers* and the address is Saka Cesme which is just near the inn. But without surname and less
information we can't say that it's about Stavros Vafiadis. Not only in Salt Research archives, we tried to check other address books and found the name of Leonida Daravanoglu** (Vafiadis) in 1954- Istanbul Chamber of Commerce Trade Directory. Leonida was the son of Koco, nephew of Hurmuzios and he was in the same business too.
As told in the begining of this article, we also had one more information about the atelier of Hurmuzios. The name of his company was 'Dinos'. Actually we couldn't find any information with that name until Istanbul University published the newspapers archives online. During our daily searches, one day when we were looking for 'Dinos' without any hope, we found this advertisement on the newspaper 'Son Telgraf - 27 December 1937'. It was really a strange experience to find finally what we were looking for over years. Here below you can see this advertisement.
In 2020 April, we found on an online auction, the brand registry of Dinos Atelier, but due to unfortunate health reasons we lost the auction and couldn't buy it. We tried to contact with the auctioneer to tell us the buyer, but of course in those kind of auctions it's not right to share. Here below also i would like to share with you a printscreen of this brand registry. You will see a surname on this paper as 'A.Ekonomu'. But who was he? The answer of this question has already been in our family memories. Achilleas Oikonomou (Ahilea Ekonomu) was a best friend, accountant and the most trusted colleague of Hurmuzios, he was the henchman. The brand registry has been done by himself. Achilleas and Hurmuzios were so close to each other. It's a perfect and strange coincidence that, both of those mens graves are in same graveyard and they are back to back...Like the old days they had...
Written by: 2mi3, May 2020
* Oriental Yearbooks were written mostly in French. 'Chaise' means 'chair' and 'Bois' means 'lumber'
** Vafiadis surname changed to Daravanoglu/Davranoglu after Surname Law - 1934, but took time to replace in all documents.