History of Mint
In various towns of the large and small states and principalities founded by the Turks who settled in the Middle East and Anatolia as of the 9th century, the minting of coins was initiated and the places the minting of coins were performed were called as "Mint" from the beginning.
Ottoman Empire coins had been composed of silver coin (akce or akca), copper coins (mangir) until gold Sultaniyya was issued in the last quarter of the 15th century. The basic unit of account was the silver coin (akce or akca) and without revealing the places of printing, the first silver coins were minted in Bursa, Edirne and Marmara basin and were circulated together with the coins of other Turkmen principalities. Patterning after Seljuks and Ilkhanates, the Ottomans launched great numbers of mints in or near the prominent trade and city centers and mines in the 15th century. Silver coin circulation area expanded with Ottoman lands. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the silver coin was regularly circulated in Byzantine lands as well as within Constantinople. In the last quarter of the 15th century, silver coin was being issued in at least 15 separate mints during the 30-year reign of Mehmed II. ¹
The production level of each mint depended on the amount of precious metals provided by individuals or the state under existing conditions. Therefore, there were major fluctuations in the production levels. Moreover, the state requested the old coins in circulation to be transferred to the mints and replaced with coins bearing the name of the new sultan once each new sultan had acceded to the throne. This process was called as renewal of coins (tecdid-i sikke). The central state inspected the mints closely despite their vast numbers. Mints in the centers of metropolis were generally operated by the government pursuant to the custody system and managed by government officials (emin).
Convenience status of the quality and weight of the coins with the standards set by the government and technical matters were under the responsibility of another officer called as “Sahib-i Ayar”. The inspection of the activities and ledgers of the mints was performed by the government via muslim judges. ²
Until the end of the 17th century, the production technology of gold, silver and copper coins in Ottoman mints was rather simple. A piece of heated metal was placed between two molds and the upper mold was hit with a hammer. Thus, the patterns on the upper and lower molds were embroidered on each side of the coin. Notable skills were required for the production of molds, preparation of blank metal pieces (flakes) or alloys, hammer strokes and quality assessment of the final product and even measuring of the weights of these flakes.
A great number of expert craftsmen and workers were carrying out the predetermined tasks under the inspection of Sahib-i Ayar.
The number of people working in silver and copper coins production in Istanbul was a few hundred and more than a hundred in other large mints. The number of employees working in the medium-sized mints was 50 or over. Small mints in the countryside often used large mints for some tasks requiring expertise.³
Bursa, Edirne, Amasya, Erzurum, Konya, Izmir, Serres, Sofia, Damascus, Baghdad, Tbilisi, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria were some of the major mint centers of the Ottoman Empire minting money in a vast number of centers in a wide geography which were determined from numismatic materials found until today and whose number reached 40.
After the conquest of Istanbul, in addition to the existing ones, new temporary mints were founded in various districts in order to meet the monetary demands of the rapidly expanding empire. The Mint that was founded by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror near the Beyazit Mosque for continuity purpose in the same city is considered to be the beginning of Turkish Mint establishment. Although no documentary record regarding the exact date of the first establishment is available; the year of 1467, when Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror minted the first gold coin in honor of his name, could be considered as the date of the first establishment of the Turkish mint. It was later expanded and moved to a building named Simkeshane in Beyazit in 1596 and took its regular form.
The second establishment of the Mint took place during the reign of Sultan Ahmet III. The Mint was moved from Simkeshane to the buildings within the Topkapi Palace site and launched in 1723, expanded with the construction and addition of new workshops in 1832 and a Sovereign office was built in the Mint garden.
This mint in Istanbul continued to be the main mint of the state, and other mints were closed in 1843 and money was minted only in Istanbul from this date on.
Preliminary works of the third establishment plans of the mint, which was opened on the 8th of July 1967 at its current location (Yildiz-Besiktas), were commenced in the year of 1953. Due to the expectation that the demand for coins might rise further in the following years, the construction of a new building and the purchase of new machinery were required. Therefore, the new mint building, which began to be constructed in mid-1961, was activated in 1967, following the purchase of new machinery.
In 1933, the State Mint was merged with the Directorate of Printing House, which was launched to stamp “valuable documents” as of 1845.
Known as, Duty Stamps Printing Office, this department of our General Directorate, had served in the old mint buildings (Darphane-i Amire) within the Topkapi Palace until March 2012 and moved to the new service building in Kartal Cevizli, Istanbul.
Pursuant to the Law No. 2996 on the Organization and Duties of the Ministry of Finance, The General Directorate of the Mint and Stamp Printing House performed as the main service unit of the Ministry of Finance until 1983.
The General Directorate of the Mint and Stamp Printing House was affiliated to the Undersecretariat of Treasury and Foreign Trade after treasury departments had separated from the Ministry of Finance in 1983 and become Undersecretariat of Treasury and Foreign Trade affiliated to Prime Ministry.
In accordance with the Decree Law No. 234 on the Establishment and Duties of the General Directorate of the Mint and Stamp Printing House, published in the Official Gazette with the date 18/06/1984 and number 18435, our General Directorate operates as an affiliate of the Ministry of Treasury and Finance.
¹ Sevket Pamuk, “Osmanlı Imparatorluğu’nda Paranın Tarihi”, 3rd edition, Tarih Vakfi Yurt Yayinlari 73, Istanbul, 1999, pg.38.
² Sevket Pamuk, “Osmanlı Imparatorluğu’nda Paranın Tarihi”, 3rd edition, Tarih Vakfi Yurt Yayinlari 73, Istanbul, 1999, pg.39.
³ Sevket Pamuk, “Osmanlı Imparatorluğu’nda Paranın Tarihi”, 3rd edition, Tarih Vakfi Yurt Yayinlari 73, Istanbul, 3rd edition, 1999, pg.40-41.