The first major Empire to rule Anatolia (Turkey in Asia) were the Hittites (18th - 13th century BCE). After the fall of the western part of the Roman Empire, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Empire, whose first Emperor was Constantine I (306 CE – 337 CE). Anatolia came under the control of the Ottoman Turks during the 13th century. After capturing the Christian Balkan states and subjugating the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire (1299–1922) gradually expanded through the Balkans and Central Europe, finally conquering Constantinople in 1453. The Ottoman Empire that ruled for more than 600 years was one of the most powerful empires in the Mediterranean and later ruled much of the Mideast as well.
In Turkey, picture postcards were published during the latter part of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. While some exhibited the architectural brilliance of the country’s buildings, mosques, palaces and castles, others showcased the people and their culture. Turkish postcards, while often printed elsewhere in Europe, did not necessarily fit the same pre-occupations of colonized nations. While postcard titles were most often in French, they were often in Turkish as well.
The most prominent early publisher of Ottoman postcards was Max Fruchtermann. Born in 1852 on the eastern border of Austria-Hungary to German parents he came to the central part of the Ottoman Empire in the 1860s. Two years later at the age of seventeen years, he opened a frame-shop at Yüksekkaldirim in Istanbul. It is hard to underestimate his role in the publishing scene that followed.
In 1895, Max Fruchtermann printed his first picture postcards. Two years later he published his first color postcards. This was at the very beginning of postcard publishing becoming wildly popular in Europe and around the world; it also coincided with tourism and travel to Ottoman lands and Istanbul in particular that would put his postcards in great demand over the coming decades. Like most publishers, Fruchtermann's images showed the people, buildings and landscapes and events in one of the world's foremost multi-cultural Empires. When a relative sold his remaining stock in the 1960s, it numbered in the hundreds of thousands of images.
Fruchtermann was one among a number of different European and Asian publishers who settled in Istanbul and built publishing houses there that fed the growing appetite for images among tourists and Turks alike. E. F. Rochat,
also represented here, was likely from France and settled in Istanbul. Others, with initials like M.J.C
remain anonymous pending further research.