A treasure found hidden in a commode

Sometimes it’s surprising to see the incoming emails from readers. The following message reached me some weeks ago and will blow your mind. treasure found hidden commode

Dear Tom, I am contacting you about the following: as an antique dealer, I bought 16 years ago a commode at auction. During the restoration of this piece of furniture, the restorer found, hidden in the back, between the drawers, a passport. On the first page, we clearly could read: ‘Erbprinz zu Fuerstenberg Joachim.’ It is an attractive looking document, and It was issued in 1951. I was wondering if you were perhaps interested in it. We moved our store to a different location, and I came across the document again while cleaning my personal desk. Your website popped out at first sight, and I was admired by all the information you were sharing! If you wish, I can send you some images of the document.

I got in contact with the antique dealer, and he sent me detailed photos of the document, and indeed it was the passport of a Prince, to be more precise; it was the double-passport of Erbprinz Joachim zu Fuerstenberg.

An Erbprinz (hereditary prince) is the oldest son and heir to the throne. The father of Prince Joachim was Maximilian Egon Maria Erwin Leo Franziskus Amos Wenzeslaus Hubertus Prince zu Fürstenberg (* 31. März 1896 in Prague; † 6. April 1959 in Donaueschingen). treasure found hidden commode

Joachim Egon Maximilian Friedrich Leo Joseph Maria Hubertus Prince zu Fürstenberg was born at Grund Castle in the Pürglitz district of Bohemia. His mother was Wilhelmine, née Countess von Schönburg-Glauchau (1902-1964).

After graduation from high school in 1941, he was then drafted as a soldier and most recently served as a lieutenant. After his return from French war captivity, he became active in the Princely-Fürstenberg general administration. Together with his wife, Paula Gräfin zu Königsegg-Aulendorf, and their children, he stayed in seclusion at Hohenlupfen Castle. When his uncle Karl Egon V. zu Fürstenberg died childless in 1973, he became head of the House of Fürstenberg. treasure found hidden commode

The primary residence was moved to Donaueschingen in 1933 when his father took over the Princely Fürstenberg administration. Exactly 40 years later, after the death of his uncle Karl Egon V, the nobleman, who had been married to Paula Countess zu Königsegg-Aulendorf since 1947, became head of the House of Fürstenberg. With great talent, he combined tradition and modernity by adopting the essential branches of the house, such as wood production and brewing, to modern business requirements.

With around 20,000 hectares of forest, the Princely House is the largest private forest owner in southern Germany after Thurn und Taxis. It also owns properties in Canada and Austria. Since 1470, the House of Fürstenberg has brewed the beer of the same name. He himself loved to drink it often and often ate fresh Swabian “Maultaschen”,” recalls Mirella Fanelli, manager of the house’s own “Bräustüberl”. The Prince always sat with his wife and children in the Zirbelstube under the Herrgottswinkel in front of the green-tiled stove. “Without my family, I would be a poor man”, the father of six children once said. treasure found hidden commode

More than five hundred prominent mourners of great aristocratic houses bid him a final farewell, among them Ernst August of Hanover and his wife Caroline, the House of Thurn und Taxis, Duke Franz of Bavaria and Duke Karl of Württemberg, Markgraf Max of Baden with his son Bernhard, Landgraf Moritz of Hessen and the House of Liechtenstein. Former German President Roman Herzog heads the list of mourners from the political world.

His family belongs to the oldest German noble families. The catholic family was first mentioned in documents in 1070. Joachim Egon Fürst zu Fürstenberg died in Donaueschingen on 9 July 2002 after a long illness.

The passport

A Federal German passport issued on 2 May 1951 in Donaeschingen with plenty of travels e.g. to France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, UK, USA, Mexico, and several Allied Military Government travel permits. In those years Germans needed of course a visa for all these countries and most of the visas have also revenue stamps attached. treasure found hidden commode

Then in 1953, the passport office did something unusual, something I have never seen before. As the original passport was full travels no visa pages were left, hence they just attached and sealed another blank passport to the old one. The new passport served just as pages extension. This kind of “extension” is very unique! Of course, this extension is noted officially in his passport. Any other passport office would have issued a new passport, I guess. Well, different times – different rules.

I like to thank Bert, the antique dealer, who brought this historical passport treasure to my attention and made it possible that I could acquire it for my collection! treasure found hidden commode

Read more about the house of Fuerstenberg

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  1. Hi Tom! Some nice article you wrote! I am really glad this document ended up with you. I sold a few nice things to museums and ‘important’ collections in the past, but I never felt more proud of the words you shared with the rest of the world. Tom, I wish you all the best and more luck in this field of collecting the world has to offer. Bert

  2. thanks, very interesting indeed. Strange to see, though, that in terms of our old aristocratic families the catastrophic WW2 and its loss was hardly a little blip in the development of their families – at least as far as your article is concerned.
    we little plebeian children did not even have an inkling of their existence.

    1. The interesting point here is that noble titles were not any longer allowed in German passports by law, although they just did it here.

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