Collectors’ meeting in Bratislava

Collectors’ meeting Bratislava

Zbysek & Tom
Zbysek & Tom, Bratislava, May 2023

Zbysek (†) is a Zoologist, banknote and passport collector I have known for years. He also wrote several articles for my website over the years. His knowledge on travel documents of Austria-Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic and its predecessor states is vast and so is his collection. Collectors’ meeting Bratislava


We met in the beautiful city of Bratislava, where Zbysek found a cozy family pension for me. My stay there was very enjoyable with a great room, a comfy bed and a breakfast with a fantastic selection and service. We explored the city, which is not that big, but has the highest density of embassies I ever experienced in a city. An embassy at every corner, including a rare SMOM embassy. Collector’s meeting Bratislava



The cabinet of wonders…

Goulash & Beer Collectors’ meeting Bratislava

In the evening, we went to a traditional Slovak restaurant and had a delicious goulash. I didn’t have this dish for years and really enjoyed it.

What we like to do most

The next day, Zbysek invited me to his flat, and we went through a part of his vast travel documents collection. I was admiring his document cabinet where he stores orderly all the passport booklets. The large folios are archived flat in a binder. Collector’s meeting Bratislava

The collection is ~1400 documents strong. With plenty of passport types and/or notable events and people.

Stories Collectors’ meeting Bratislava

There is the story of Lieutenant Chaloupka from the 7th Regiment, 2nd Infantry of the Czech-Slovak army who travels on a French passport as a courier to Manchuria via Siberia to deliver dispatches to the American Ambassador in Peking in June 1918.

Or the German passport 1939 of Rajna Charousova, the wife from the envoy of Bohemia and Moravia in Berlin . See below. Some passports with lovely passport photos, which are always a joy to look at. Here are some exceptional examples of his fine collection. Collectors’ meeting Bratislava Collector’s meeting Bratislava

I asked Zbysek about his personal passports, flipped through the pages – and there it was – a visa of the DPRK from 1984. He told me the remarkable story of his two professional trips as a Zoologist to North Korea in 1986 and 1990. At that time, citizens of Slovakia didn’t even need a visa to go there. What an experience.

I appreciate the time you’ve taken to share these wonderful stories, my friend. And now, may you rest in peace. (Zbysek passed away suddenly in February 2024). Collectors’ meeting Bratislava

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FAQ Passport History
Passport collection, passport renewal, old passports for sale, vintage passport, emergency passport renewal, same day passport, passport application, pasaporte passeport паспорт 护照 パスポート جواز سفر पासपोर्ट

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...