Collection of six Neil Armstrong US passports

Neil Armstrong US passports

United States Passports issued to Neil Armstrong from 1954 to 1979, including a Special + Diplomatic Passport used while going through astronaut training

1. Passport. United States of America. Green cloth with Department of State Seal pattern lettered in gold. Issued May 7th, 1954. Listing his occupation as “Student.”

2. Special Passport. United States of America. Green cloth with Department of State Seal pattern lettered in gold. Issued October 6th, 1960. Listing his official status as: “PROCEEDING ABROAD ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS FOR THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION.” Brasil, Panama, Guatemala, 1960-65.

3. Diplomatic Passport. United States of America. Navy blue leatherette, lettered in gold. Issued Sept. 22, 1966. Indicating that the bearer is: “AN ASTRONAUT ON A SPECIAL DIPLOMATIC MISSION FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.”  Venezuela, Brasil, Paraguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, 1966. Neil Armstrong US passports

4. Passport. United States of America.  Green leatherette lettered in gold. Issued Sept. 16, 1969. Greece, UK, France, South Africa, Spain, 1972-74.

5. Passport. United States of America.  Green leatherette lettered in gold. Issued Sept. 5, 1974.
Philippines, UK, Spain, France, Ireland, Ecuador, Norway, Australia, 1974-79. Neil Armstrong US passports

6. Passport. United States of America.  Navy blue leatherette, lettered in silver.
Issued July 26, 1979. UK, Ireland, Canada, France, Sweden, South Africa, 1979-1984.

Neil Armstrong US passports

The first passport was issued in 1954 while Armstrong was a junior at Purdue University, after having served as an aviator in the Navy and serving in the Korean War; he seemed too focused on his studies to travel during this period, as the passport bears no exit/entry stamps.

A Special Passport which he used from 1960-1965 while was conducting official business abroad for NASA. Armstrong joined the Naval Advisory for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1955 and became part of the second group in the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962, going on to train at the Panama Jungle Survival School on Albrook Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone. This Special Passport shows his entry and exit dates into Panama, as well as travel completed by him in the neighboring countries of Brazil and Guatemala. We see quite a dramatic uptick in his travel in the Diplomatic Passport, used by him starting in 1966 while on special diplomatic missions for the President of the United States. It shows extensive entries and exits not only to and from Panama but nearly every country in South America. The fourth passport was issued just one month after the launch of the Apollo 11 mission, and this along with the last two passports show a shift in the countries Armstrong traveled to, seeing him making frequent visits to multiple countries in Europe, South Africa, Australia, and the Philippines, with the only south American visit being to Ecuador, being a mix of trips for vacation and business.

The six passports were sold at Sotheby in 2019, with a final result of USD 81.250.

 

From Pirates to Passports: A Timeless Commitment to Service

Neil Armstrong US passports

 

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...