Fantastic U.S. Passport 1858 – Legation St. Petersburg

Passeport No 5., 1858. Légation des États Unis d’Amérique en Russie.

Rare and exquisite travel documents like this one don’t cross the path of collectors very often. The rarity factor becomes even more pronounced when it pertains to United States passports issued within Russia, specifically in St. Petersburg.

Francis W. Pickens US Passport Legation St Petersburg

From 1858 until he was recalled in 1860, the U.S. Minister to the Tsarist Court was Francis W. Pickens of South Carolina – one of the states that attempted to secede from the Union. Minister Pickens was later replaced by John Appleton of the northern state of Maine, who served from 1860 to 1861. Born on his family’s plantation along the Tuggaloo River in St. Paul’s Parish, Francis W. Pickens (1805-1869) pursued his education at Franklin College (now known as the University of Georgia) in Athens, Georgia, and South Carolina College. In 1829, he initiated his legal career in the Edgefield District. Later on, he served a term in the state House of Representatives and secured a position in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1834, filling a vacancy left by George McDuffie, who had resigned after being elected governor. Pickens also held a seat in the state Senate from 1844 to 1846.

U.S. Minister to Russia US Passport Legation St Petersburg

In 1856, President Buchanan appointed Pickens as the U.S. Minister to Russia, a role he held until 1860. At that time, he returned to South Carolina and was subsequently elected as the governor. During his governorship, he staunchly supported secession and issued the command to open fire on the Union vessel, the “Star of the West,” as it attempted to deliver reinforcements to Fort Sumter. Additionally, he issued a demand to Major Anderson to surrender the fort, marking the onset of the Civil War. Following the war’s conclusion, Pickens retired to his plantation, where he resided until his passing in 1869. US Passport Legation St Petersburg

The Passport

(Translation of French Text)
The Great Seal of the United States: E Pluribus Unum with 26 Stars
Passport No. 5.
Legation of the United States of America in Russia. The undersigned, F W Pickens Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Court of His Majesty the Emperor of all Russia, pray all those who are asked to let pass surely and freely and if necessary give aid and protection to Mister John L Jarvis, citizen of United States going to England carrying the dispatches.

Given under my signature and imprint of the Seal of the Legation in St Petersburg on 6th, November 1858, the 83rd year of the Independence of the United States. W Pickens



US Passport Legation St Petersburg

The history of the American passport…


incl. FREE guideline!

FAQ Passport History 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...

Passport collection, passport renewal, emergency passport renewal, same day passport, passport application