12° (16.5 x 10 cm) atlas: [2 ff., title and introduction], 11 maps printed on card, bound in original decorative card covers, stapled (Very Good, overall clean and bright, internally lovely, just some very light wear and staining to covers).
This attractive little thematic atlas, with an Art Nouveau cover, was authored by Ömer Lütfi, a secondary school teacher in Adana, in southern Turkey, and was published nearby in Mersin. The atlas features Lütfi’s introduction (dated March 28, 1932), followed by eleven thematic World maps detailed the principal locations of critical agricultural and mineral resources, including: 1. Staple Food Crops; 2. Industrial Crops; 3. Tropical Cash Crops; 4. Tobacco; 5. Linen and Hemp; 6. Silk; 7. Wool and Cotton; 8. Precious Metals; 9. Industrial Minerals; 10. Oil and Coal; and 11. Base Metals.
The present atlas perfectly demonstrates the spirit of the Turkey’s Early Republican Era, during the presidency of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (in office 1923-38). During the late Ottoman era, the education system in Anatolia was patchy at best. Only the privileged few received a proper education and the extreme majority were illiterate. While many fine atlases and geography books were pointed in Istanbul for use in schools and universities, these works were expensive and relatively hard to obtain.
Atatürk ushered in revolutionary educational reforms, making primary education free and compulsory, while secondary education was made readily affordable. His decision to change the Turkish alphabet from Arabic to Latin characters in 1929, was not only done as modernizing, or Westernizing, reform, but rather more importantly to aid literacy. While Ottoman Turkish had a sophisticated beauty, Arabic script was ill suited to the Turkish tongue, severely hindering literacy.
Republican Turkey also encouraged its citizens to learn more about the world outside of the Middle East-Mediterranean world, to forge economic and social ties with lands far away.
Atatürk also encouraged educational books to be published in the Anatolian provinces, authored by teachers who had a first-hand knowledge of the needs of their pupils.
The present work is an early Turkish educational book in Latin script, which introduces sophisticated international subjects to secondary school pupils, but in an attractive and effective manner. No doubt, it would have aided the students in Adana Vilayet in their learning in the manner intended by Atatürk.
The atlas is rare, especially in such fine condition. We cannot trace any examples in Western institutions.