Story of The Printing of The First Banknotes of the Turkish Republic Accordıng to The Daily CumhuriyeMelek Öksüz
When the Turkish Republic was founded the new state continued using Ottoman banknotes (evrak-ı nakdiye) for some time while preparing to print its own banknotes. In printing its own banknotes, the new state was motivated by Atatürk’s all-purpose motto of “catching up with the modern civilization level” in the realization of its goal. To this end, the Banknote Commission (Evrak-ı Nakdiye Komisyonu) was established under the direction of Mustafa Abdulhalik Bey. The illustrations on the banknotes were drawn by Ali Sami Bey. The first banknotes of the Republic of Turkey went into circulation on December 5, 1927. Following the circulation of the new banknotes, old counterfeit banknotes were found to be being circulated and Ali Sami Bey was put on trial. These issues were followed closely by the Turkish press which shared the developments with their readers. This study aims to describe how the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reflected the stories revolving around the printing of the first banknotes of the Turkish Republic.
Cumhuriyet Gazetesine Göre Türkiye Cumhuriyeti’nin İlk Kâğıt Paralarının Basım SerüveniMelek Öksüz
Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devleti kurulduğunda bir süre Osmanlı Devleti’nin evrak-ı nakdiyeleri kullanılmış ancak kendi kâğıt parasının basımı için de hazırlıklara başlanmıştı. Atatürk’ün her konuda işaret ettiği “muasır medeniyet seviyesini yakalama” hedefi para konusunda da gerçekleştirilmek istenmişti. Bu doğrultuda Mustafa Abdülhalik Bey’in başkanlığında Evrak-ı Nakdiye Komisyonu oluşturulmuştur. Paraların üzerindeki resimler ressam Ali Sami Bey tarafından çizilmiştir. Cumhuriyetin ilk kâğıt paraları 5 Aralık 1927’de tedavüle çıkmıştır. Aynı günlerde hem Ali Sami Bey yargılanmış hem de eski Osmanlı paralarının sahteleri piyasaya sürülmüştür. Bu konular Türk basını tarafından dikkatle takip edilmiş ve gelişmeler okuyucularla paylaşılmıştır. Bu çalışmada, Cumhuriyetin ilk kâğıt paralarının basım serüveninin Cumhuriyet gazetesi sayfalarına nasıl yansıdığı ortaya konulmaya çalışılacaktır.
With the founding of the Turkish Republic, the Turkish state strove to follow an independent economic policy based on Mustafa Kemal’s belief that “full political independence cannot be achieved without economic independence”. During this early stage of laying the institutional foundations, one of the main instruments of the new “national economic policy” that the Turkish decision-makers aimed to cement was a new monetary policy. They believed that strong policymaking could only be possible with a stable monetary policy. Moreover, banknotes are one of the main indicators of independence; therefore, the new state needed to have its own national money. When the Turkish Republic was founded, however, it had neither its own paper money nor coins. In 1924, the first Republican coins were minted but because the economic situation was not suitable for printing new banknotes Ottoman banknotes remained in use for some time. While other steps were being taken for economic independence the printing of new banknotes came onto the agenda of the new Republic. After waiting so long for independence, the printing of new banknotes was expected to be perfect and without any problems. The all-purpose motto of Atatürk, stressed in almost every issue, the goal of catching up with the modern civilization level was leading on the issue of paper money, too. Therefore, the new banknotes had to be printed using the modern techniques to prevent counterfeit banknotes and the symbols and pictures to be used on the banknotes should be selected according to the founding principles and ideology of the newly established Turkish state. The banknote Law No. 701 was promulgated on December 30, 1925. According to this 153.748.563 liras worth of banknotes (corresponding to the Ottoman banknotes in circulation) was to be issued and when the new banknotes went into circulation they would replace Ottoman banknotes. Based on the same law, a Banknote Commission (Evrak-ı Nakdiye Komisyonu) was to be established under a director who would be assigned from the Ministry of Finance to execute the operations concerning the new banknotes. To this end, the preparations began under Mustafa Abdülhalik (Renda) Bey who chaired the new commission including the representatives from the banks in Turkey to supervise the process. The Banknote Commission first met on February 27, 1926 and after intense work and discussions they determined the technical and design issues about the new banknotes. On this note, they first tried to decide upon the units to be printed and 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 liras were set to be new units for the banknotes. The illustrations on the banknotes would be drawn by Ali Sami Bey who also illustrated the first postage stamps of the Republic of Turkey. The illustrations included the portrait of Mustafa Kemal Paşa (Atatürk), the building of the Turkish National Assembly, the greyhound, the city of Ankara, the plowing peasants and some other pictures which symbolized the new state ideology. Also, the Commission decided that the banknotes were to be printed in London with the most advanced and reliable “taydus” method in England and a contract was signed with the Thomas de la Rue Company in London.
In the following stage, the first samples of the new banknotes arrived at the Banknote Commission on September 20, 1926. As the first samples began to arrive in Turkey, a delegation was sent to London to monitor the printing process, as stated in the by-law and the contract. The delegation comprised the Head of the Accounting Council Fuad Bey and Director of the Clerks Cemal Bey from the Ministry of Finance; Gümüşhane Parliament Member Cemal Hüsnü Bey representing the Ziraat Bank and Monsieur Peşi representing the Ottoman Bank from the Banknote Commission, and the head of the delegation was Fuad Bey. Later, two more people (the Secretary of the Banknote Commission Adil Bey and the Principal Clerk of the Prime Ministry Necmeddin Sahir Bey representing the Cabinet) were included in the delegation because of the heavy workload. While samples of the banknotes were coming and going between London and Istanbul beginning in September 1926, some corrections were demanded by the Turkish Government and the Banknote Commission protested to the Company on the pretext that the banknotes were not printed as they wished. This situation led to the printing process being extended and the Commission felt uneasy. As of March 1927, the crisis ensued between the two parties. The Thomas de la Rue Company sent Mr. Rapkin to Istanbul to negotiate with the Commission members. The negotiations led to a peaceful resolution by agreeing that the Company should continue the printing process.
After the samples were accepted at the Commission the directive was given to the Company to restart printing the banknotes. Once the procedures for the samples had been completed, the new banknotes began to be sent to Turkey. Previously, the parties had agreed on how the banknotes were to be sent to Turkey, where they would be kept, and what procedures should be applied afterwards. According to this agreement, the new banknotes would be shipped to Istanbul in different cargoes in standard and safe sealed chests as they were being printed and the banknotes would be deposited and protected in the Ottoman Bank. The banknotes were to be sent to Istanbul after being checked by the Turkish delegation in London. The Turkish Government decided that the counting process of the new banknotes was to start on September 1, 1927. A special office (Evrak-ı Nakdiye Tasnif ve Mübadele Dairesi) in the building of the General Debts Organization (Duyun-ı Umumiye) was reserved for the counting and exchange operations of the new banknotes. The operation was to be supervised by one of the directors of the Ottoman Bank, Monsieur Amon. After the counting process was completed in November 1927, the exchange process of the new banknotes with the old Ottoman banknotes was to begin. According to Law No. 701, the Ottoman banknotes could remain in circulation for six months following the beginning of the circulation of the new banknotes. However, as the exchange process could not be completed in the desired amount of time, a three month extension was granted. Thus, after a long and thorough preparation process the printing stage was completed and the first banknotes of the new Republic went into circulation on December 5, 1927.
In the following days, there occurred two important developments took place in Turkey concerning money. The first event revolved around Ali Sami Bey who made the illustrations for the banknotes. He was put on trial because of a newspaper article he wrote concerning the possible counterfeit attempts after the banknotes went into circulation. Not surprisingly, as the new banknotes went into circulation, counterfeit Ottoman banknotes were disseminated in the money market to make quick profits in exchanging them for the new banknotes. This development confirmed both Ali Sami Bey’s concerns and the sensitivity of the Turkish Government. Without a doubt, these sensitive issues were followed carefully by the Turkish press which shared the news with their readers. One of the leading daily newspapers of Turkey, Cumhuriyet covered every aspect of the printing process of the Republic’s first banknotes and published the details of this critical issue for the Turkish nation. The newspaper also informed its readers almost every day about the new banknotes from when the decision to print new banknotes was made. This study aims to investigate how the story of the printing of the first banknotes of the Turkish Republic was reflected on the pages of the daily Cumhuriyet and shed light on the monetary policies of the early Republican period.