British Prime Minister Callaghan Passport At Auction

British Prime Minister Callaghan passport at auction

Not every day you find a prime minister passport for your collection. The document is in great condition and has several (diplomatic) visas. Interesting is page two of James Callaghan’s passport as his position/title was several times changed.

James Callaghan is the only 20th-century British Prime Minister to have held all 4 major offices of state: Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister.

British Prime Minister Callaghan Passport At Auction

‘Big Jim’ grew up in poverty during the Depression. Unable to afford the tuition fees for University, he joined the Inland Revenue in the 1930s, helping to set up the Association of Officers of Taxes trade union. He was elected Member of Parliament for Cardiff South in 1945 after spending 3 years in the British Navy during the Second World War.

As Chancellor, Callaghan oversaw the controversial devaluation of the British pound in 1967, which was followed by his swift resignation. His next ministerial position as Home Secretary saw the increase of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland that reached its highest point under the following Conservative administration of Ted Heath.

Callaghan’s short period as Foreign Secretary, however, was interrupted by the surprise resignation of Harold Wilson in 1976. Callaghan, who was popular across all parts of the Labour Party, won the leadership election and became Prime Minister.

Callaghan’s government lost its majority of seats in Parliament on his first day in office. This forced him to rely upon the support of the Liberal Party during 1977 to 1978, and then the Scottish National Party for the remainder of the government. It is for this reason that the 1979 referendum on the devolution of powers to Scotland was produced, which was narrowly defeated by the Scottish voters.

His years as Prime Minister also saw the introduction of the Police Act of 1976, which formalised Police complaints procedures; the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act of 1977, which established the responsibility of local authorities to provide housing to homeless people; and the Education Act of 1976, which limited the number of independent and grant-maintained schools in any one area.

However, these years saw Britain’s economy performing poorly. By 1976, inflation had hit almost 17% with 1.5 million (or around 5% of workers) unemployed. Callaghan’s controversial decision to ask the International Monetary Fund for an emergency loan in 1976 created significant tensions within the Cabinet. His successful leadership during the Cabinet’s careful consideration of this decision has earned him wide praise among later observers.

Despite this success, further attempts by the government to reduce inflation through wage restrictions for public sector workers caused a wave of strikes across the winter of 1978 to 1979, which has become known as the ‘Winter of Discontent’. Having been severely undermined by these events, a motion of ‘no confidence’ against the Callaghan government was called by opposition MPs in Parliament in March 1979. This motion was passed by 311 votes against the 310 MPs that opposed it. The following general election in May 1979 was won by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party.

This awesome collectible fetched $2700.

I do hold the passport of Arthur Henderson, (born Sept. 13, 1863, Glasgow, Scot.—died Oct. 20, 1935, London, Eng.), one of the chief organizers of the British Labour Party. He was Britain’s secretary of state for foreign affairs from June 1929 to August 1931 and won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1934. I will write an article later on his unusual passport. Unusual why? Because he literally issued a passport to himself!

British Prime Minister Callaghan Passport At Auction

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...