Blowback for vintage passport collectors

In an emailed statement, the online platform Delcampe clarified that “Historical Documents,” which includes government-issued identification such as passports, may still be sold on their website provided that they are at least a decade past their expiration date.

Miranda from Delcampe wrote:
“Hi Tom, I can confirm you that we are not going to change anything about our policy on passports. The 10-year limit still stands as well. We are not currently planning to create a category for the selling of those items, which can be put under the category “Historical documents”.

The recent announcement of changes to Delcampe’s Terms and Conditions, specifically section 5.1.2, has caused some confusion regarding the sale of historical documents. The platform has stated that the eligibility of such documents will be determined by the Delcampe team based on current legislation.

blowback vintage passport collectorsVintage passport collectors have received another blowback, as online platform Delcampe announced a recent update to their terms and conditions prohibiting the sale of government-issued identification papers. While certain historical documents will still be allowed, the criteria for determining what is allowable remains vague and open to interpretation by Delcampe’s teams. blowback vintage passport collectors

“Official documents issued by a government, including identification papers, documents containing personal information (e.g. birth certificates). However, certain historical documents will be allowed. The Delcampe teams will determine what is allowable based on the legislation in effect.”

The platform was for many years tolerant with such documents. Unfortunately, like eBay, they mainly don’t make a difference between a vintage (historical) passport or an expired current passport type. The statement that certain historical documents will be allowed is too soft and too undefined. I doubt DC will know which legislation for such documents will be in effect in different countries.

I offered DC several times support as an passport history expert, who also is interested to stay always up-to-date with the current laws, because I also challenge governments to make a statement on collecting of vintage passports . Some statements you can read here. However, this topic is not DC’s focus, which I can understand. Their main category is on stamps and postcards, that’s where they make their money. blowback vintage passport collectors

This comes just after eBay purges vintage passports in mid February on all of their websites. Liz Morton’s website reported on the issue. Liz is the top source when it comes to eCommerce marketplaces, news and analysis. I recommend you follow her.

Vintage Passport Collecting – Quo Vadis? blowback vintage passport collectors

This question was ask so many times recently. Well, I am not a dealer but a passport history expert with connections to 600+ collectors worldwide. Everyone of them has his specific field of collection. If you have something to offer – contact me – as there is always a possibility for a win-win situation for all parties.

As you are already here, why not sign up to my NEWSLETTER as 400+ other collectors do as well? Take a look at my WANTED items and OFFERS.


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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...