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DISINFECTED OTTOMAN MAIL: all Signori Georgi Haggi Zučka Compagn. Wienna Zoom

DISINFECTED OTTOMAN MAIL: all Signori Georgi Haggi Zučka Compagn. Wienna


A transfer docket with an early chisel cut for disinfection, probably against the plague, was sent from Izmir to Vienna in 1789. As the cover letter is opened, the main message, folded in the envelope, is still sealed and has never been read.


Author: Roux Frères to Georgi Haggi Zučka.
Place and Year: Izmir, Ottoman Empire: September 6, 1789.
Code: 66288

Manuscript in dark brown ink on hand made paper (21 x 8 cm / 8.2 x 3.1 inches), originally folded and cut through in three places, inserted in a custom made envelope with manuscript in dark brown ink, originally sealed, cut through (6.5 x 9 cm / 2.6 x 3.5 inches) (Very Good, slightly stained). 


A hand written transfer docket in Italian, accompanied by a message, folded into an envelope, was written in Izmir, Ottoman Empire,  in 1789 by the Roux Frères, a trading company, based in Marseille, France, to a Georgi Haggi Zučka (or Georgi Hagi Zucca), probably a Romanian tradesman, in Vienna (Zučka or Zucca would be probably a nickname meaning “ginger”, most probably referring to a colour of his hair). 

The letter was pierced through with a sharp chisel, in order to disinfect it through the sealed middle when it went through a quarantine on the Ottoman – Venetian or Austro-Hungarian border.

The stabbing through the letters was made for sanitary reasons at the customs between the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Venetian Republic and Ottoman Empire. The letter would be then sent through special vapours, that were intended to eradicate contagious substances. In this case the letter was probably disinfected against the plague, which was at the time common in in Dalmatian towns and all of the Ottoman imported goods had to go through a quarantine. 

The sealed message, folded as an envelope for the transfer docked, has never been opened or read.

From the collection Harry W. Schaefer (11934-2016) of Zurich, renowned collector of Ottoman and postal history.

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