Abraham Freres was the company run by Haim and Moritz Abraham in Constantinople. According to my parents, the company imported cheap metal goods from Germany, such as razor blades, and distributed them all over the Levant. One relative even believed that they owned a factory in Germany, but I doubt this was the case it as I never saw any documents to confirm such ownership, and this was never mentioned by my parents.

Abraham Freres - Constantinople.

Abraham Freres - Constantinople, 1916. Labelled Envelope.

(Scan courtesy of Mehmet Sadettin Fidan)

Abraham Freres.

Abraham Freres, letterhead, 1918.

In the "1909 Annuaire Oriental" (1909 Trade Registry), Abraham Freres are listed as "Commissionnaires", French for "Agents" or "Brokers."

Abraham Freres listed - Annuaire Oriental - 1909

Annuaire Oriental - 1909

(Scan courtesy of Mehmet Sadettin Fidan)

The company's offices were located in Emin Bey Han (Han = business center) on the South side of the Golden Horn (Halic) in Eminönü, the heart of the walled city of Constantine, where ancient Byzantium was built. Abraham Freres occupied three rooms, number 26 to 28 on the second floor.

Note that on this fragment of the 1909 directory, almost all tenants of Emin Bey Han are "Commissionaires".

Abraham Freres.

Abraham Freres stamp, 1916.

Abraham Freres listed - Annuaire Oriental - 1921

Annuaire Oriental - 1921

(Scan courtesy of Mehmet Sadettin Fidan)

The 1921 Annuaire Oriental shows that Abraham Freres by then only occupied two rooms.

Other Abraham brothers

There is no evidence that either of the two younger Abraham brothers, Isak or Moni, were ever involved in the company.

Mony however did have offices in the same building for his own company.

Products

Abraham Freres imported products manufactured in Germany and from neighboring countries. According to my parents, their main focus were cheap metal goods such as razor blades. However, according to surviving business correspondance such as parcel cards, Abraham Freres appears to have dealt with a wide array of consumer goods, such as shoe polish, ink, crafstmen tools and paper envelopes. Below are some of the companies whose goods they distributed:

Data courtesy of Mehmet Sadettin Fidan. *: Additional data from the author's collection.

Package receipt cards addressed to Abraham Freres

Here are a few package receipt cards, mostly from Schenker & Co., a freight consolidator and forwarder headquartered in Vienna before WWI, with offices throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Central Europe, the Balkans and in Constantinople.

Most of these package cards date from the years 1916 and 1917, possibly indicating that the means of importing products had changed because of travel difficulties between Germany and the Levant during the later part of WW1.

Incoming Parcel Card, 1916

Incoming Parcel Card from Picard-Werk, a hammers and craftsmen tools manufacturer. 1916.

(Collection of the author)

Incoming Parcel Card, 1917

Incoming Parcel Card from the F.H. Schmidt envelope factory in Torgau, Germany. 1917.

(Collection of the author)

Incoming Parcel Card, Völkel, Solingen, 1916

Incoming Parcel Card from Völkel, a manufacturer of thread cutting tools in Solingen, Germany. 1916.

(Collection of the author)

Incoming Parcel Card, 1916

Incoming Parcel Card from Harmann Mittler, an ink factory from Vienna. 1916.

(Scan courtesy of Ron Laby)

Incoming Parcel Card, 1916

Incoming Parcel Card, 1916.

(Scan courtesy of Ron Laby)

Parcel Card, Paulmann & Kellermann, Elberfeld, Germany. 1916

Parcel Card, Paulmann & Kellermann, Elberfeld, Germany. 1916.

(Scan courtesy of Mehmet Sadettin Fidan)

Parcel Card, Lersch & Kruse, Hagen Germany. 1917

Parcel Card, Lersch & Kruse, Hagen, Germany. 1917.

(Scan courtesy of Mehmet Sadettin Fidan)

Parcel Card from Haim, 1917

Parcel Card, 1917.

(Scan courtesy of Mehmet Sadettin Fidan)

Address

Note that although some professional correspondance to Abraham Freres indicated "Emin Bey Han" as their address, some was simply addressed to "Abraham Freres, Constantinople". I don't know if this was common, or else is an indication that the company was of sufficient size and well known in Constantinople.

For example, Haim sent this parcel card and simply addressed it to:
Herren Abraham Freres, Constantinople - Stambul, Europ. Turkei

Parcel Card from Hungary, 1917

Parcel Card from Hungary, 1917.

(Scan courtesy of Mehmet Sadettin Fidan)

Another example of business mail addressed to:
Herrn Abraham Freres, Konstantinopel - Stambul, Turkei

There are many examples of personal correspondance addressed c/o Abraham Freres, with no additional street or building information. For example, Haim sent this postcard from Vienna in 1913 to his sister-in-law Ronya, and simply addressed it to:
"Riwka Abraham,
c/o Abraham Freres,
Constantinople".

Zionist Congress, Vienna 1913.

Postcard from Vienna - Sept 4, 1913.

WW1

During the second half of WW1, in 1916 and 1917, Haim temporarily moved to Germany, to make it easier to communicate with suppliers and continue to conduct business with Constantinople despite the war. He was first in Elberfeld (where Paulmann & Kellermann was located), then in Hagen, Westphalia (where Lersch & Kruse and H Münzing Spedition were located). While Haim was in Germany, Moritz stayed in Constantinople and continued to run the company from the main office.

The end of Abraham Freres

Although the last surviving artifacts from the company (mail and business card) date from 1918, Abraham Freres continued to operate for a few more years and the company's name still appears in the 1921 Annuaire Oriental.

At the end of 1922 however, there was an acrimonious falling out between the two brothers Moritz and Haim, as described in a letter from Elfriede (Mädi) to Ronya dated December 8, 1922, and the company was dissolved.

This split coincided with Moritz' move to Dusseldorf (actually his move was delayed by a few weeks while he was attempting to resolve the dispute with his brother); It's not clear what triggered the dispute.

Moritz continued to run his business out of the same building for several years, now renting a single room (No 23). He is listed in the 1923 Register of Bankers, Traders and Brokers: Abraham M. Istanbul, Emin Bey Han, 23. Komisyoncu ("broker"). His name also appears at the same address in the 1927 Registry Book of the Spanish Consulate in Constantinople, and in the List of Professional Tenants in Emin Bey Han .as "Abraham M."

Haim on the other hand moved his business to a new location; in the Registry Book of the Spanish Consulate in Constantinople, an entry dated September 18 1928 shows Haim's business address as Seyh Davud Han, Tahtakale street.

Mony also had his offices in the same building as Abraham Freres, running a company under his own name.

He appears in the 1921 Annuaire Oriental as "Abraham Moni", a "Commissionnaire" with an office in the same building (Emin Bey Han - 10, 16, 17).

Note that I'm assuming the "Abraham Moni" is an inversion and slight misspelling for Mony Abraham. Since there are a couple of package cards addressed to a Mony Abraham in Emin Bey Han, this assumption is probably correct.

s

These package cards are both for chemical products used to treat fabric: "eisenvitriol" = Iron sulfate, used as a dye, and "Chlorkalk" = bleaching powder.

Parcel Card for bleaching powder

Parcel card for bleaching powder.

(Scan courtesy of Mehmet Sadettin Fidan)

Parcel Card for iron sulfate

Parcel card for iron sulfate.

(Scan courtesy of Mehmet Sadettin Fidan)

Special thanks:
I am indebted to Ron Laby who generously shared copies of several documents related to the Abraham brothers from his collection of Sephardic-Mizrahi Postal History & Ephemera, and provided background information on package receipt cards.
I am indebted to Mehmet Sadettin Fidan who graciously shared his knowledge of Constantinople's Hans and provided a wealth of documents and data about Abraham Freres.
Links
Emin Bey Han
1923 Register of Bankers, Traders and Brokers

This family history project started September 2009.
All photos and documents belong to the author and are © Daniel Abraham, except for maps and where indicated.
This is a work in progress. Please contact me if you have any more information to contribute.

Last Modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2018