Did you ever heard of a Seiyun passport?

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No, it’s not a fantasy or Bogus passport – it’s a real thing and pretty rare to find nowadays! Seiyun passport

Seiyun Aden 1968

The Kathiri State of Seiyun in Hadhramaut was a sultanate in the Hadhramaut region of the southern Arabian Peninsula, now part of Yemen and the Dhofari region of Oman. The Kathiri State was established in 1395 by Badr as-Sahab ibn al-Habrali Bu Tuwairik, who ruled until 1430.

In 1839 Britain captured the town of Aden (now part of Yemen) in the south of the Arabian Peninsula. Like the later seizure of Cyprus (1878) and of Egypt (1882), the occupation of Aden was a strategic rather than commercial undertaking, guarding the lines of communication with India. With British Somaliland on the ‘horn of Africa,’ Aden provided control of the Red Sea entrance.  Following the Suez Canal opening in 1869, Britain established protectorates in the hinterland of South Arabia to act as a buffer against the Ottomans who occupied Yemen. In 1937 Aden became a Crown Colony. Seiyun passport

Seiyun passport
Map from 1965

In 1916, a division occurred in Kathiri, and the Sultanate of Tarim separated from Kathiri. In 1918 a ‘long standing Qaiti-Kathiri quarrel was settled, with the assistance of the Aden Residency, by the conclusion of an agreement between the parties, by which the Kathiri agreed to accept as binding upon them the treaty of 1888 between the Qaiti and the British Government and also accepted the arbitration of the British Government in settlement of future disputes. Seiyun passport

The Kathiri State declined to join the Federation of South Arabia but remained under British protection as part of South Arabia’s Protectorate (Aden Protectorate). Al-Husayn ibn Ali, the Kathiri sultan since 1949, was overthrown in October 1967, and the following month the former sultanate became part of newly independent South Yemen. South Yemen united with North Yemen in 1990 to become the Republic of Yemen, but local sheiks in Yemen are reported to wield large de facto authority still.

Ever since they occupied Aden as a territory in 1839, British troops were subjected to attacks. From 1962, Britain was engaged in an escalating conflict in the protectorate. Using grenades, bombs, and rifles supplied by regional, and world powers, nationalist groups such as the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY) targeted British troops and their families. By November 1967, the situation was untenable, and Britain’s permanent garrison East of Suez’ was abandoned. Seiyun passport

The following document was offered to me via my website, but the seller wanted an extremely high price; hence it didn’t end up in my collection. But at least I can share some pictures of this curious passport of territory under British protection.

Seiyun passport

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...