Documents relating to Baron Maurice de Hirsch's concessions to build and operate the Ottoman Empire's railway lines from Constantinople to Vienna.

Turkey: 1874-86 Stock Code: 141678
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Constantinople to Vienna

Fascinating group of documents relating to Baron Maurice de Hirsch's concessions to build and operate the Ottoman Empire's railway lines from Constantinople to Vienna, dating to the time the agreements were revised (1872) to when he was seeking to extricate himself (1887):

1. Covering letter to the annotated Actes 1874 document addressed to Baron Hirsch (1887)

2. Actes 1874 covering the revised 1872 agreements, annotated in 1887 for Baron Hirsch

3. Further amendments from the Ottoman Minister of Works for Hirsch (c1887-88)

4. Agreement to advance funds to the Sublime Porte (to finance a military response to Bulgarian annexation of Eastern Rumelia) (1885-86)

The Ottoman rail network was constructed to boost trade, maintain imperial control, and facilitate Hajj, and relied to a great extent on foreign private finance and expertise. First ventures in the 1860s included the Chernovoda to Constanza line connecting the Danube to the Black Sea, and the Rustchuk to Varna line taking cargo to the Danube and Black Sea. The latter, built by a British group, was owned by the Rustchuk-Varna Railway Company under a 99 year concession, which leased it in 1873 to Austrian banker, Baron Maurice de Hirsch (1831-1896). In 1869 the Porte granted its most important concession to Hirsch, to build 2, 500 km of main and branch lines connecting Constantinople and Vienna; and in 1870 Hirsch founded the Societe Imperiale des Chemins de Fer de la Turquie d'Europe to build the lines, and Compagnie pour l'exploitation des Chemins de Fer de la Turquie d'Europe to operate them. The venture was financed by the Turkenlose (3 Turkish Lottery Bond designed by Hirsch himself), and German and Austrian bank loans. Over the 99 year concession, Societe Imperial would receive 14,000 francs rent per completed kilometre from the Porte and 8,000 from the Compagnie.

Grand Vizir Mehmed Emin Ali Paca (1815-71), a moderniser who wanted closer ties with Western Europe, signed the agreement for the Porte. However, he died in 1871, and his successor, Mahmoud Nedim Paça (1818-83), whose appointment was influenced by General Nikolai Ignatieff (Russia's ambassador at Constantinople), preferred a link with Russia via Romania. Mahmoud Paca's efforts to cancel the concession were, however, unsuccessful, due partly to Hirsch's appointment of Ralph Earle, former British MP and secretary to Lord Beaconsfield, who renegotiated the agreements, signed off on 18 May 1872 (item 2). By 1872, four disconnected lines ("stumps") had been built, and the Turkenlose had not raised sufficient funds. Under the new agreements the Porte took back the building concession (including the most difficult and costly parts), in the process reducing the distance to 1,250km, with the Societe Imperial as its contractor, and cutting the Compagnie's concession from 99 to 50 years.

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Small archive of original documentation, as above.


Overall in very good condition.


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