Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

[Tidbits] Topkapi Dagger

Adapted from a book by Eric Ambler entitled “The Light of Day”. Do
you remember? The year… 1964. The film… with Melina Mercouri and
Maximilian Schell and Robert Morley and Peter Ustinov… Topkapi.

The plot: To steal the Emerald and Diamond studded dagger from the
Topkapi palace… in what is now Istanbul… and was then the
ancestral residence of the Ottoman dynasty.

Today the palace… now also a museum… located near the
Bosphoros… is a tourist’s vision of heaven. Walkways meander along
multiple entrances to sights to dazzle the senses. Do you dream of an
endless array of women in your life. Topkapi has a Harem enclosed
with extra high walls to ensure the protection of its inhabitants.
Today… alas… the rooms are empty… with no veiled sirens
beckoning alluringly to insatiable Sultans.

But all that makes for no never mind… for the interest of today’s
Tidbits lies is the Dagger itself. Ah… it is something to behold.
Three large emeralds on the hilt. Colombian I believe. Their
source… the age-old Muzo and Somondoco mines of Colombia. On the
top of the hilt … another emerald on a hinged cover which–when
flipped open–reveals a watch.

It’s a wonder to behold with an unsuspected side asset. After one has
stabbed one’s enemy with said emerald studded dagger… one has but
to flip open the top to fix the exact time of the murder… thereby
assuring many an amusing tale while cavorting in the harem with one
of one’s favorite wives. I can think of no other reason to put a watch
on top of the hilt of a dagger… unless of course one wants to think
of the dagger as merely a show-piece to be worn across one’s chest
while attending court affairs. What time is it your Sultaness? One
second while I check my dagger.

A quick aside as long as I’m talking about Istanbul. Did you know
that Istanbul is the only city in the world that touches upon two
continents… Europe and Asia?

The sheath is gold and also studded with diamonds. It has an enameled
flower design at its center. You may have noticed… those amongst
you that are keen observers… that today I am presenting one of the
wonders of Turkey. There may be more to come.

Anyway… I hope the summer is treating all of you well. Tidbits has
returned for another year… for better or worse… excluding an
interruption here and there. There is a slight breeze in the air. The
sun is shining. Things are copacetic.

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits… click it… and you will see represented on
our pages the Emerald Dagger at Topkapi.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark

Topkapi , the movie, has been running on THIS TV ( a syndicated
station in the USA) over the past 6 months at least two showings per
month… your amusing conversation smacks of synchronicity…if not
spontaneous generation, or something in between!.. enjoying the

Best regards,…rer

Actually… the fact that the movie is running on TV is a
coincidence. I was fortunate to be able to go to Turkey this summer
and visited the Topkapi palace where I saw many magnificent things…
the dagger among them. Delighted you enjoyed Tidbits. Thar’s more a

Warm wishes,

Benjamin - I enjoy Tidbits very much and was hoping you would give
the answer to your secret puzzle that you set just before you went
on vacation. This is sort of like the crossword puzzle that stymies
us until we wake up late in the night with eureka! And grab a
notepad. Please put me out of my misery.


I visited Turkey a few years ago and want to go again. It was
fascinating, intriguing, exciting and welcoming but I was not able
to find the art school district. Did you find it? Supposedly there is
a art school district or quarter including galleries that sell
graduate student work. Did you find it?

I loved the Yerabatan Cystern with the upside down marble columns
dragged from Greece after battle. I heard there was a portion of a
James Bond movie filmed here. Do you know the name of this movie?

Love tidbits!


Hope you don’t mind… I’ll answer the two of you at the same time.

The answer to the puzzle was: Flora Staal… the originator of Staal
Jewelers of Fifth Avenue. Better than valium, eh wot?

James Bond movies filmed in Istanbul, Turkey weRe: “From Russia with
Love” and “The World is not Enough” Not sure to which one you’re
referring. I’m assuming the second. Unfortunately… did not see the
art district. So much to see… so little time.

Best wishes to you both.

Hi Gang,

Weirdly enough, I was in Istanbul a few weeks ago as well. I did get
to Topkapi, and saw the dagger, as well as the cistern. I think the
Bond movie that used it was “From Russia with Love”. I know it was
one of the early ones, because they’d just found the thing, which
was the point of using it.

Topkapi was interesting, but incredibly crowded. I didn’t get much of
a chance to really look at the dagger (or anything else in the
treasury) before the flow of the crowd swept me past. (Does anybody
know anything about the gold candlesticks in the treasury? They’re
listed as being both 18K and 48 kilos, each. (two) They were
originally made for Mecca, so they may really be 200 pounds of
gold, but that seems…a bit on the pointlessly extravagant side,
even for an Ottoman Sultan.)

The cistern, on the other hand, is just exactly the place to hide
out during an Istanbul summer at mid-day. Nice and cool down there.

If you get to Istanbul, try some of the corn-on-the-cob vendors down
around the Ayasophia. (and the cistern/Topkapi: they’re all in the
same area.) Most yummy. And if you happen to be down there on a
Friday evening, keep an ear out for the Muzzein from the Blue
Mosque. Most mosques use taped calls via loudspeaker, but I swear the
last evening we were there, the little mosque near the Blue Mosque,
along with the Blue Mosque itself were doing them live, because it
sounded for all the world like they were doing call and response.
(Either that, or they’ve worked out some exquisitely accurate timing
with a pair of CD’s.)

I don’t speak Arabic, so I have no idea what they were saying, or if
one really was a response to the other, but it sure sounded