British Passport of a decorated Boy Soldier in WWI


This collection comprises a First World War trio of medals and accompanying documentation belonging to a young soldier, Albert William Cooper, who enlisted in the army at the age of 13 in April 1915 (underage). The trio includes the 1914-15 Star (with the name misspelled as KOOPER), the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal. Albert Cooper was born on July 29, 1901. Passport Boy Soldier WWI

His military service was relatively short, as he was discharged on January 15, 1916, due to a misstatement of his age at enlistment. However, during his brief time in the army, he displayed remarkable courage and reliability. He spent four months at the front and was a warehouseman by trade. His medal records indicate that he went to France on October 8, 1915.

Police Career Passport Boy Soldier WWI

After leaving the military, Mr. Cooper briefly served in the Mercantile Marine before rejoining the Kings Royal Rifle Corps on March 6, 1920, where he served until being transferred to the Reserve on February 6, 1924. Subsequently, he joined the Metropolitan Police on August 11, 1924, and served in ‘G’ Division (Finsbury) and ‘K’ Division (Stepney). He retired from the Metropolitan Police on February 16, 1951, with an exemplary conduct record. He passed away in 1974. Passport Boy Soldier WWI

The accompanying documentation includes his Birth, Marriage, and Death certificates, Army Discharge and Character certificates from his first enlistment, Discharge and Character certificates from his second enlistment, a Soldier’s Service and Pay Book from the second enlistment, a British Mercantile Marine Identity and Service certificate, and a Metropolitan Police Service Certificate signed by the Assistant Commissioner. Additionally, there are two original photographs of Mr. Cooper during his time as a Police Constable in ‘G’ Division, as well as his British passport from the 1960s/70s, featuring a visa stamp for the Soviet Union. This collection provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and service of Albert William Cooper. Passport Boy Soldier WWI


A British Soldier is traveling home from the battlefield in Spain in 1919



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FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...