Ex-libris in Turkey
Prof. Hasip Pektaş*

Ex-libris has been introduced to Turkey either by Turks going abroad or via books purchased the West. Books containing ex-librises, which are used widely in European countries, have been brought to Turkey through second-hand sales, and when book owners passed away, their relatives either donated those books to libraries or sold them to antiquarian booksellers.

Ex-librises are found in some books on Turkey bought auctions conducted in the West. For example, it is possible to see an ex-libris in a book, which is in the National Library, on Ottoman History printed in 1777 and bought Germany in 1954 in exchange of 210 Deutsche Marks. There are ex-librises in some books of the library of Henry M. Blackmer that are related to the Ottomans, purchased by the Ministry of Culture the Sotheby’s auction in London in 1989. There are ex-librises in some of the books bought abroad, particularly those in French, and donated the Cavit Baysun library to the Yapı Kredi Bank Library and the Sedat Simavi and Şevket Rado libraries to the Press Museum.

The stamps present on handwritten manuscripts and printed books that date back to the Ottoman era may be recognized as signs of ownership. Although stamps do not belong to the ex-libris type, with their original calligraphic structures, they have functioned as the personal coat of arms or logotype of the person they belong to.

It can be argued that those who have first got ex-librises made in the real sense in Turkey were the expatriate bibliophiles of that period. That the teachers served in such foreign schools as the Üsküdar American Academy and the Robert College has got ex-librises made can be seen when the internal covers of the books donated to the libraries of these schools are examined. In the majority of the books of the Robert College library, which now belongs to the Boğaziçi Univertisy, a standard ex-libris is found. Starting the 1920'ies, student yearbooks of the Robert College featured ex-librises that also contained blank placeholders for the owner of the yearbook to inscribe their names. Designed and applied by those in charge of the artistic aspects of the yearbook, this tradition was unfortunately suspended by the 1950'ies.

Neither enthusiasts nor collectors of this recently spreading art are many in Turkey. The number of bibliophiles as well as others, who get ex-librises done as a measure against theft by borrowers of books their libraries, is increasing every other day. For example, İ. Gündağ Kayaoğlu, folk-culture expert and researcher-writer, get the ex-libris comprising a cartoon of Tan Oral and the inscription “Yâ Kebikeç” in Arabic on it done in 1985. (In the past, the word “Kebikeç,” which was thought to be the “Sultan of the Bugs” was inscribed on handwritten manuscript books to protect them worms. The bugs were believed to scare the Kebikeç and avoid approaching the books with this word on them.)

From time to time, persons who have just heard about the existence of such an art are witnessed to get interested in ex-libris with great enthusiasm. Nevertheless, these individuals will first deal with its functional side, and in time, just like the other collectors, they will adobt it and start accumulating in line with their areas of interest. As long as book owners, collectors, and artists continue to be enamored of ex-libris, I am sure this tradition will be well established in Turkey, as well.

First established in Ankara in 1997, the Ex-libris Society in our country has continued its activities in Istanbul under the name of the Istanbul Ex-libris Society since 2008. As one of the 10 museums all around the World, the Istanbul Exlibris Museum was established under the Istanbul Museum of Graphic Arts (IMOGA) in 2008, and with its collection of more than 17.000 ex-librises and library, it has created great opportunuties for researchers.

The Istanbul Exlibris Society has opened exhibitions in 14 cities in Turkey as well as in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Denmark, China, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Finland, Belarıs, Canada, and Russia and thus publicized ex-libris. Numerous conferences have been delivered to promote the art of ex-libris and workshops, particularly in schools, have been conducted. The Istanbul Ex-libris Society also organized 3 international ex-libris competitions in 2003, 2007, and 2010. In 2010, the Society, in cooperation with the Feyziye Schools Foundation and Işık University, organized the FISAE XXXIII International Congress of Ex-libris and welcomed 280 artists and collectors 40 different countries in Istanbul. In addition to the III International Ex-libris Competition Exhibition, the Collections of Japanese collector Ichigoro Uchida, Austrian collector Heinrich R. Scheffer, Moscow Ex-libris Museum, China Exlibris Association, and Shanghai Fu Xian Zhai Exlibris Society as well as Stamped Old Book Pages, which reflect our tradition of stamping, a type of ex-libris, were exhibited. Işık University also organized a national ex-libris competition for high-school students in 2012.

Yapı Kredi Cultural Activities Arts and Publishing Inc. published Hasip Pektaş' book “Ekslibris” in 1996 and the extended Second Edition of the book was printed by the Ankara Ex-libris Society in 2003.

The membership of the Ankara Ex-libris Society was accepted in the FISAE (International Federation of Ex-libris Societies) Congress held in Boston in the year 2000 and Turkey participated to this organization, of which nearly 40 countries are members.

Since the 2000’s in Turkey, particularly thanks to encouragement and support the faculty of establishments that provide fine-arts education, youths that make ex-libris have started to evolve as masters in this field. Our artists are currently claiming awards in exhibitions and competitions organized abroad and have our voice heard among activities carried out in those arenas. In addition, it is also a fact that 13 graduate theses have been already completed so far on ex-libris, a subject matter that is quite new in Turkey.

The Istanbul Exlibris Academy Society established in 1998 is also actively working to spread ex-libris. They organized the competitions titled “Exlibris Istanbul” in 2000 and “Exlibris Nazım Hikmet” in 2002 and an exhibition titled “Exlibris Mediterannean” in 2010. However, it should be remembered that ex-libris is not made with tourism purposes or after the name of a deceased person. Ex-libris can only be functional if performed in the name of individuals and organization that are alive.

The number of our artists and designers, who participate in numerous international ex-libris exhibitions in addition to the exhibitions of ex-libris opened in Turkey, claim rewards there, are enamored of ex-libris, conduct serious activities in this field, and extending efforts to spread ex-libris is increasing every day. Those names that come to mind among those include Güler Akalan, Tülin Aktar, Mine Arasan, Nurgül Arıkan, Hakan Arslan, İsmail Aslan, Mehmet Aslan, H. Müjde Ayan, Mehmet Aydoğdu, Erdal Aygenç, Durmuş Murat Bahar, Lütfiye A Bahar, Tezcan Bahar, Hatice Bengisu, Nurhayat Berker, Elif Varol Ergen, Hakan Erkam, Erdoğan Ergün, Ayşen Erte, Murat Ertürk, Şükrü Ertürk, İlknur Dedeoğlu, Hakan Demir, Hüseyin Demir, Salih Denli, Ali Doğan, Mine Saraç Doğan, Yunus Güneş, Mürşide İçmeli, İsmail İlhan, Ayşegül İzer, Berran Kancal, Ahmet Aydın Kaptan, Serpil Güvendi Kaptan, Devabil Kara, Erkin Keskin, Yusuf Keş, Hasan Kıran, Emin Koç, Gülbin Koçak, Musa Köksal, Mustafa Okan, Gökhan Okur, Erol N. Olcay, Fatih Özdemir, Hasan Pekmezci, Sevgi Can Pekmezci, Hasip Pektaş, Özden Pektaş Turgut, Zülfikar Sayın, Emre Şengün, Nazan Tekbaş Tanyu, Sema Ilgaz Temel, Gözde Eda Tekcan, Süleyman Saim Tekcan, Handan Tepe, Ali Tomak, Ercan Tuna, Serdar Tuna, Ozan Uyanık, and Fedail Yılmaz.

We should also mention our artists and young people, who have adopted the art of ex-libris within such a period of time and make us proud of them with their original and successful works. In 2013, Onur Aşkın claimed the First CGD Prize in the Moscow Second International Ex Libris Competition for Young Artists. In 2012, Aytolun Cansu Ece Gür, Eda Gizem Uğur, Esra Diken, Taha Elgün, and Yusuf Ağım claimed Honors awards in the Işık University First National Student Ex-librises Competition; Lütfiye Bahar, Tezcan Bahar, Musa Köksal, Sevgi Koyuncu, Hasip Pektaş, Erhun Şengül, Emre Şengün, Ozan Uyanık, and Fedail Yılmaz claimed the Participant Award in Erotic Exlibris Exhibition Beijing, People's Republic of China; Erkin Keskin claimed the Third Prize in the Shanghai Lajuazui Meiyuancup International Ex-libris Competition; and Tezcan Bahar claimed the IMOGA Special Prize in the  Hacettepe University Department of Information Management International Ex-libris Competition. In 2011, Irem Çamlıca won the First CGD Prize in the First International Ex Libris Competition for Young Artists in Russia; Murat Ertürk won the Second CDG Prize in the 5th International Ex Libris and Small Graphic Forms Competition in Gdansk, Poland, and Emre Şengün won the Gdansk Community Foundation President’s Prize in the same competition. In 2010, Tezcan Bahar won the Mehmet Rafet Atalık Special Prize in the FISAE XXXIII International Congress of Ex-libris organized by the Istanbul Ex-libris Society, Feyziye Schools Foundation and Işık University in cooperation; Burçin Demir and Emre Şengün won the Success Prize in the Northern Cyprus Near East University, Rauf Denktaş International Ex-libris Competition; Tezcan Bahar won the Johan Bosschem Special Prize in the Northern Cyprus Eastern Mediterranean University First International Ex-libris Competition; Tezcan Bahar claimed the First CGD Prize in the 4th International Ex Libris and Small Graphic Forms Competition in Gdansk, Poland and Emre Şengün won the Gdansk Community Foundation President’s Prize in the same competition. In 2009, Hasip Pektaş won the Second Prize in the Russia Yaroslavl International Ex-libris Competition; and Yetkin Yağcı won the First Prize in the CGD Ex-libris Competition organized by the Photoshop Magazine. In 2007, Prof. Dr. Sıtkı M. Erinç won a prize with his article titled, "Ex-libris as a Branch of Art" in the competition organized in memory of Italian ex-libris collector and writer Remo Palmirani. In 2007, İsmail Aslan won the Third Prize in the "2’be eu" – Rousse 2007 International Ex-libris Competition in Bulgaria; in the 2nd International Ex-libris Competition of the Hacettepe University and Ankara Ex-libris Society, Mustafa Okan won the Çankaya Municipality Special Prize and Yunus Güneş won the Hüseyin Bilgin Special Prize and Tezcan Bahar won the Ali Şükrü Fidan Special Prize; and Yunus Güneş won the Third Prize in the "Bread-Cultural Heritage" Ex-libris Competition in Serbia. In the 2nd FISAE International CGD Ex-libris Competition held in Belgium in 2006, Nurdan Adıgüzel won the First Prize, Tezcan Bahar won the Second Prize, and Atanur Sevim won the Fifth Prize. In the 1st FISAE International CGD Ex-libris Competition held in 2004, Mine Saraç won the Sint-Niklaas Special Prize and Ozan Ayıtkan won the Best Erotic Ex-libris Award. In 2003, İlknur Dedeoğlu won the Çankaya Municipality Special Prize in the 1st International Ex-libris Competition of the Hacettepe University and Ankara Ex-libris Society. In 2002, Gülbin Koçak won the First Prize and Ali Doğan won the Third Prize in the Istanbul Ex-libris Academy, International Ex-libris Nazım Hikmet Competition; and İlknur Dedeoğlu won the Belgrade Ex-libris Society Special Prize and Ali Doğan won the Joan Records Company Special Prize in the Yugoslavia 1st International Balkan Ex-libris Triennial. In 2001, Erdal Aygenç won the Third Prize in Argentina "Gral. José de San Martin -150" International Exlibris Competition; and in 2000, Sevim Arslan won the First Prize in the Istanbul Exlibris Academy Society International Exlibris Istanbul Competition. In 1997, Sema Ilgaz Temel won the Third Prize in the “Ex Musicis” Ex-libris Competition in Ortona, Italy; and in 1996, Hasip Pektaş won the First Prize and İsmail İlhan won the Second Prize in the “3rd Italy - Turkey Ex-libris Bieannial” in Ortona, Italy.

* Prof. Hasip Pektaş, Isik University, Faculty of Fine Arts, Head of Visual Communication Design Department, President of Istanbul Ex-libris Society



Online Exhibitions 

1st International Ex libris Competition Ankara 2003

2nd International Ex libris Competition Ankara 2007

Contemporary Printmakings and Ex-libris Turkey

33. FISAE International Ex-libris Comp. - İstanbul 2010

Exhibition of International Ex-libris Collections - İstanbul 2010

Exhibition of Souvenir Pictures Congresses- İstanbul 2010

Old Books with Ex-libris Stamps - İstanbul 2010

Dialog: Daily News Project Istanbul 2008

Daily News Project 3

The Most Important
Ex-libris Museums

by Benoit Junod

The most important ex-libris museums are Frederikshavn, the Gutenberg Museum, the Sint Niklaas Museum, the Moscow Museum, the Museo Exlibris Mediterraneo in Italy, the Shanghai Fuxihanzhai Ex-libris Museum, the Nancy Library in France, the Ex-libris Centre in Bulgaria and the Lewych Museum in Odessa. The Frederikshavn has over 1 million ex-libris covering the whole history of the art; Gutenberg and Sint Niklaas have about 800,000; Moscow has about the same but with accent on Russian ex-libris. The MEM collection is smaller (based on Palmirani’s fantastic collection), but it is an active organizer of competitions, conferences, exhibitions, etc. which many of the others (except Sint Niklaas) don’t.
However, to these museums, it would be necessary to add the many very important collections which are in public institutions (libraries, graphic collections and museums) which are open to the public and works can be consulted. There are maybe 15 in Britain (of which the celebrated Franks Collection in the British Museum), close to 20 in Germany, about 5 in France, the same in the USA and in Austria (including the famous National Library collection which Claudia Karoly deals with). In Russia, both the Pushkin Museum in Moscow (Nadya Derkach) and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg have very important collections (the latter is said to have the best collection of early German ex-libris in the world). But maybe the highest concentration of public collections is in Switzerland – about 25, of which two in Geneva, five in Basel!
August 27, 2008