Old Stamp I (1930s-1945)

The city of Turkey officially changed its name from “Constantinople” to “Istanbul” in 1930. It was not until many years later that the K Zildjian Cymbal factory updated its cymbal stamps. The first stamp that included the word “Istanbul” used a tall narrow font, and eliminated the word “trademark” which had appeared on earlier stamps under the word Constantinople.

This stamp was the last one to use the old fashioned way to abbreviate the phrase “and company” as “& Cie“. Later stamps all use “& Co.”

Another example of Stamp I.

Old Stamp IIa (1945-1949)

The phrase ‘K Zildjian’ was shrunk compared to the preceding stamp.

Also now the font for the word “Istanbul” is as tall as the star and moon. Stamp I used a smaller font which was shorter than the star and moon.

Old Stamp IIb (1949-1950)

This stamp is almost identical to IIa except that it has a big K. The word “Zildjian” is top-aligned with the K, as though it were a superscript.

It should also be mentioned that these are also often referred to as Stamp III because of the big K. In fact, that might even be more common than calling it IIb. Still, those that refer to this as a “III” do not provide the nuanced IIIa, IIIb, IIIc that can be found frequently used to distinguish these cymbals and date them.

Here is another example. It is interesting the case of each of these examples to make note of the shape of the word “in” in the phrase “Made in Turkey” because the word “in” becomes taller in later stamps.

Old Stamp IIIa (1950-53)

The Moon becomes thinner for in this stamp, and the word Zildjian is bottom-aligned with the letter K.

The word “in” from “Made in Turkey” also appeared smaller on the preceding stamps.

Old Stamp IIIb (1953-1956)

The font for the bottom word “Zildjian” grew taller in this stamp. This is the only difference I’ve ever been able to see and it makes this stamp difficult to distinguish.

More photos and a soundfile after the jump.

Some of the cymbals from this era have an amazing tinny smoky sound. This is a 17″ cymbal that weighed 1,165 grams. Listen to the soundfile.
Another cymbal from this era. The stamp photo (above) was taken from this cymbal. Notice the large bell, which was common during this era.
Another image of a stamp from this era.

Old Stamp IIIc (1956-57)

This stamp is distinguished by the position of the star further away from the inside of the moon. The phrase ‘Made in Turkey’ appears more horizontal on this stamp, that is: less hooked around the moon. This is the only stamp with this arabic script and the spread out “Made in Turkey.”
Another example of this stamp.

Old Stamp IVa (1957-58)

The Arabic in this stamp has been stylized with a different font. The Arabic part of Stamps IV are often illegible — there are more examples after the jump.

The difference between IVa and IVb has to do with the star and crescent moon.
Stamps from this era are notoriously difficult to read. Even this one is exceptionally legible.

Old Stamp IVb (1959)

The star and moon look different in this stamp, and “Made in Turkey” wraps around it.

This 16″ cymbal has a lathing pattern sometimes seen on cymbals from this era, where the tonal grooves are clustered closer together, then spread apart in concentric circles. It makes the cymbal look like the rings of Saturn.
Underside of the above 16″ cymbal.
This ink stamp was found on an old stamp cymbal of this era.
The star and moon look different in this stamp, and “Made in Turkey” wraps around it.
This image, from a polished cymbal, provides the most detailed image of the Arabic, while the star above the crescent is missing. Still, the tight wrapping of the words “Made in Turkey” identify it as IVb.

Intermediate Stamp (1959-1966)

The intermediate stamp replaces the former block of Arabic text with some sort of gibberish symbols. It is not Arabic, unless it is the Comic Sans font for Arabic(?) I seriously don’t know what the symbols mean. If anyone knows, please share.

The English component of this stamp always seems to have some stamping problem, so it is often illegible. The distinguishing feature is the combination of the small-sized star in the crescent with the non-standard symbols where one would expect the Arabic.

Another shot of the intermediate stamp.
Here’s another intermediate stamp that more clearly displays almost all of its elements.
Here’s an image of a beautiful 22″ ride from this era. This was an extremely thin cymbal, around 2250 grams. The 22″ rides from this era are wonderful.
This is an 18″ crash/ride from the same era. More of a medium weight cymbal at 1750 grams.

New Stamp (1967-77)

The so-called new stamp looks very similar to the intermediate stamp, with the main difference being the size and location of the star above the crescent moon. Also, the stamp seemed to imprint the English more thoroughly than with the intermediate stamp, but there is often double stamping, as the cymbalsmiths pressed the stamp twice by hand.

Signature from the bell of a new stamp K.
Ink stamp found on a 20″ K from the 1970s.


  1. I have a set of 14″ K Zildjian & Cie Hi Hat/Orchestra cymbals with the G stamp on the edge so I’ve spent a great deal of time researching the timeline. I found that when Turkey got it’s independence in 1923 they changed the name to Istanbul which was what they (the Turks) had always called it. The rest of the world and Zildjian continued to use Constantinople until early 1930 when by law everything made in Istanbul had to say Made In Istanbul and the rest of the world followed suit when the Turkish Post Office would no longer deliver mail addressed to Constantinople. These hats are amazing by the way and in great condition in every way. These would’ve been imported by Gretsch between 1926 when Gretsch became the sole importer & 1930 and can be seen in old catalogs. I’ve heard that these are highly regarded by orchestra musicians and that that is where most of them reside. They are the “Holy Grail”.

    Oops, forgot to add that they are K Zildjian & Cie Constantinople Hats.

    Scott Brannon, November 16, 2010
  2. Scott, your description of the sequence of events associated with the name-change from “Constantinople” to “Istanbul” sounds to be consistent with what I’ve read. Is there any chance you could send me a picture of your 1926-1930 era stamp? I’ve also been trying to compile a timeline of those stamps, though it is much more difficult: http://www.robscott.net/cymbals/?page_id=157

    p.s. I have also heard, more than once, that in fact the K factory continued to use the “Constantinople” stamp waay into the 1930s. Which would mean that any stamp with Istanbul is presumed 1940 or later. I would like to see some proof, however, such as an advertisement found within a dated publication.

    Rob Scott, November 16, 2010
  3. Thanks to the info on your website i think i have a pair of 30’s-40’s 15inch hi hats, the markings are more or less identical to those shown (a little worn) my old man purchased these as a jazz player in the 40’s 50’s. Must have had a good ear they are excellent! thanks again…

    Tony Brown, January 25, 2011
  4. Regarding the “Intermediate Stamp (1959-1966)” photos:

    is the shape of the K important? the right leg of the K in the 2nd picture extends below the left leg but in the first pic it doesn’t.

    I’ve got one like the 2nd picture so i’m wondering….i don’t see that type of K in any other stamps on your site at all

    I’d imagine that is diagnostic of a particular period
    tia for the help

    John, February 1, 2011
  5. I see what you are referring to, where part of the letter K missing. It is common for the intermediate stamp to have letters that are missing parts, or letters that are completely absent.

    All cymbal stamps degrade over time, so the quality of stamp varies from cymbal to cymbal over the years. With the intermediate stamp, specific letters lost components that were never regained. Thus, you can look at a given word, such as the word “zildjian” and see how all the letters were complete in early examples (circa 1959, presumably), then later the were lost (during the 1960s). The more letters and components that are missing, the later it was made.

    That’s one theory by which missing and incomplete elements from the intermediate stamp could function as a diagnostic for dating specific cymbals.

    Rob Scott, February 1, 2011
  6. There are old new stamps and new new stamps. The one you’ve got here is an old new stamp. The new new stamps have a gap between the Arabic and the English, and they date to the later part of the decade, 1972-1977.

    Red, February 16, 2011
  7. I have an old set of K hi hats that I bought in the 1970s. Looking at this they would seem to be 1972-77. I have been told they can fetch high prices – how much might a set of 14″ be worth?? I’m just curious as i had no idea they were now considered ‘rare’.

    They are both 14″. One weighs 800 grammes, the other 740 grammes. They need a clean (?) but are in generally good condition – no dents, cracks or anything.

    Nick, July 7, 2012
  8. I have what appears to be a 13″ type IIA however the word ISTANBUL has two A’s instead of 1 or ISTAANBUL. What can you tell me about that?

    al gordon, December 23, 2012
  9. Al, it is an anomaly caused by double-stamping.

    Rob, December 23, 2012
  10. The intermediate and new stamp have what appears to be alchemist’s symbols—no pun intended.

    David W., March 19, 2013
  11. I have a 17 inch cymbal identical to the one shown on your site…pre 1930’s k, in perfect cond. any idea of value?

    Mark TedfordMark, May 5, 2013

Leave a comment