The Turkish Collection
When the moving and storage company Cadogan Tate received an enquiry to relocate the home of a successful international businessman from London to Turkey, at first the job appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary. After all as one of the market leaders in worldwide relocation, Cadogan Tate are well versed in the mechanics of complex international shipping.
Derek Kowalski, account manager at Cadogan Tate explains “In New York alone, an average of 220,000 twenty-foot container units arrives per hour, per day, 365 days a year,” And that’s just one city: the maths at a global level is truly staggering.
For Mr Kowalski though, this is the reality of the world he operates in: seemingly complex global logistics is rudimentary and with over 25 years in the industry, he’s a seasoned professional who has seen it all.
Or so he thought. The enquiring businessman turned out to be Ergun Tuc, founder and chairman of Delta Partners, a market leader in the aerospace industry and also the owner of one of the largest collections of Cigarette boxes and associated paraphernalia in the world. The seemingly unremarkable enquiry was about to become one of the most intricate projects the company has had to deal with in recent years.
In spite of being a successful international businessman who operates at the highest level – his company secures multi-million pound jet engines for the International Aerospace Industry on a daily basis – Mr Tuc has always found the time throughout his distinguished career to pursue various interests, one of them being collecting Turkish tobacco-related goods.
Although this particular pursuit began around 35 years ago, he has always dabbled in collecting ever since he was a child. Along with other collectors, who start small with baseball cards and stamps, before success affords them the ability to move onto bigger objects, be it of fine wine, sculptures or antiques, Mr Tuc explained that the desire to collect is an innate compulsion.
“Collecting is not an investment for me, it’s a habit: I never look at collecting for investment,” he illuminated. “I get personal joy from everything it involves, from reading about it, to the time spent investigating and researching it. It’s something to leave to other generations, a legacy. You collect things, you put it together and you make a proper collection of something.”
Today his private collection stands at some 20,000 rare items of a Turkish origin. The focus is on goods that were produced from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century when Turkish tobacco was at its pinnacle, dominating the global market in terms of quality and reach.
It’s the biggest collection of its kind and the second largest known cigarette collection in the world; no easy task to ship across international borders. His possessions and collections would go on to fill four forty-foot hi-cube containers – or put another way, eight times the average contents of a three bedroom house.
Beyond boxes and tins, Mr Tuc has gathered mirrors, ashtrays, lighters, plates and hand-painted posters. The latter are relics of a bygone era in marketing, a pioneering age of advertising that stands in stark contrast to today’s digital age.
He is fascinated by change. The way in which products were marketed to the public is just one aspect of that, the other, he expounded, is the way the perception of cigarettes has changed since even the early twentieth century: “What is now definitely a health hazard product was once, with some brands, a luxury consumable product, chosen by royalty, doctors and judges, whose names were placed as a reference of quality and leadership.” He added that with the fate of cigarettes uncertain, suggesting that they are, legally speaking, on the road to extinction, collections like his, rare, exceptional and full of historical depth, will provide people with a unique insight into what was once an activity enjoyed by many people.
With a desire to make his incredible collection available to the public, Mr Tuc is converting a number of terraced houses in a quiet, picturesque Turkish village into one sweeping palatial home, complete with a museum designed to house his collection.
Also going on permanent display is his unusual collection of antique and modern scales, collected over the last 15 years. As with the cigarette boxes, the interest in weighing scales is to do with the idea that these types of machines have become obsolete.
“I collect non-electronic scales that disappeared because of technology in places that they were used,” he noted. “Even in very remote places they have gone. The concept of scales is fascinating – they represent consideration, balance, fairness and judgement, which is something we live by every day.”
Given his enthusiasm for his collections, Mr Tuc was very detailed and hands-on with all aspects of the move, familiarising himself with the expertise of Cadogan Tate, remembered Mr Kowalski. It was only natural – he is used to a precise and exacting procurement process in the work he does, so in life and beyond, he didn’t take anything said to him as gospel.
When it comes to other people handling the things you’re passionate about, trust, authority and expertise matters a great deal. Moving belongings from one city to another can be an extremely stressful experience and everyone wants that peace of mind. Accordingly, when it comes to transferring irreplaceable collections to another country, there can be a palpable sense of heightened apprehension.
One prominent challenge presented to the team was how to pack these inimitable objects, which are priceless, delicate and largely empty. Usually when it comes to moving furniture, Cadogan Tate “export wrap” items, Mr Kowalski noted.
The company uses a sheet of paper that is the size of a picnic blanket, which is made up of around six or seven padded layers. For smaller items, the expert handlers have a number of specially designed for purpose boxes to choose from although the highly delicate nature of antique cigarette boxes remained a challenge.
“We came up with the idea of using cardboard sheeting to make ‘floors’ within each box to avoid the possibility of crushing the delicate cigarette packets,” he revealed. “Although it’s by no means unique it was a nice solution that worked very well. We had to be very careful.”
Indeed they were: All of Mr Tuc’s belongings, including rare books, Victorian engineering equipment and decanters, are now safely in Turkey, in secure storage until his home is finished.
Mr Tuc meanwhile is enjoying life. When asked whether he will keep a home in London, he laughed and admitted he wasn’t quite sure: “I have enjoyed the weather here in Turkey. It hasn’t seen any rain since I left the UK in May. And that’s good enough for me.”
Cadogan Tate is an overseas removals company, specialising in international shipping.