Delcampe – Quo Vadis?

Delcampe Quo Vadis
Delcampe (DC), a popular online auction site for collectibles, is the place to go for vintage passport collectors. The collectible’s market has been under pressure since 2019 due to the pandemic and the general economic situation. Plus new/extended legal and tax laws apply for online businesses like Delcampe.

What the platform archived since its founding in 2000 is remarkable. Here, some history of the platform until 2019.

Status April 2024 Delcampe Quo Vadis

Currently, there is much noise and discussion within the DC community because of the vast changes. Members, especially pro-sellers, report frequently that sales are dropping significantly. Plus partly, technical issues due to the various changes. As I can see it, DC is acting quick to eliminate most technical glitches.

New Fees

VAT is not a fee per se but a legal requirement on online sales, which DC introduced in 2024.
There are other new fees for sellers coming: a monthly shop fee (min. €4.95/month), a plus fee and an API fee.
The buyer pays now, 10% + 30c for each purchase! All details on new membership and platform fees are here.

For DC's revenue stream, everything practically changes from commission-based fees (depending on sales) to platform fees (no sales required, and more convenient for DC).

Platform statistics Delcampe Quo Vadis

As of 2022, DC disclosed having 1 million active daily users and receiving 150,000 new items daily. It’s uncertain whether these figures have experienced any significant increase by 2024.

Closing of DC accounts in 23 US States

In May 2023 DC announced it will close these members accounts due to US tax reasons. Those members cannot use the platform anymore.

DC YouTube Live Chat – April 22, 2024

Sebastian Delcampe had a live chat, explaining the current situation and changes. Personally, I assume the platform is losing members, hence the introduction of new platform fees, payment systems etc. All regulatory issues are just one side of the coin. You can watch the video, here.


DC goes practically away from commission fees to platform/membership fees, which are independent of sales numbers, obviously. But if (pro)-sellers cannot any more sell, naturally the number of platform users will also drop. Still, the better “bitter pill” for DC.

Only time will tell whether the significant changes will revitalize the platform or signal its demise. Personally, I wish DC will find its way to revitalize, as for the vintage passport collector’s community the website is important (and still more relaxed on this special topic, as the big platform, overseas).

Delcampe – Quo Vadis?


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...