Ferdinand Müller von Mühlegg issued Passport 1809

Born 7/5/1759 in Vienna, died 12/17/1824 in Vienna, Catholic, from Näfels and from 1815 from Rheinau. Son of Johann Christian, imperial-royal court agent and diplomat in Vienna. 1784 Anna Maria von Wellens, daughter of Johann Anton. Ferdinand Müller von Mühlegg

Baron Ferdinand Müller von Mühlegg was imperial-royal Austrian government councillor in Vienna, federal chargé d’affaires to the emperor and the empire in Vienna 1802-1806, to Austria 1802-1824. Experienced diplomat for various employers, including the prince-abbey of St. Gallen. From 1815-1817 he campaigned for the return of the archives of the Prince-Bishop of Basel from Vienna to Switzerland.

Here come a great passport issued by von Mühlegg as Charge d’affairs to Austria in Vienna to Baron de Paravicini, a Captain in the Swiss Guard at the Vatican (Regiment Vigier de Steinbruck, British Army Officer 1802). Born 1779, Okehampton, Devon. Died 6 April 1822, St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton, Somerset. Aged 42. Married Sophia Brent in 1815. They had two sons and one daughter.

Paravicini History

As unlikely as it may sound, the surname Paravicini is a Swiss surname and has been a Glarner surname for over 360 years.

Passport for Baron de Paravicini 1809
Passport for Baron de Paravicini 1809

The Paravicini family of Glarus originated in the village of Berbenno in the Valtellina valley (Veltlin in German) in northern Italy. Although part of Italy today, in the 16th through 18th centuries the Valtellina was part of the “Grey Leagues” also known as the “Graubünden”. This area of alpine valleys had established a mutual defense pact independent of Switzerland. Over time, most of the Grey Leagues formed into the Swiss Canton of Graubünden, while the Valtellina valley became part of Italy.

Another Paravicini branch found in London was descended from the Chur branch of the family. Men in this branch served as mercenaries fighting for the Kings of France. The most famous was Brigadier General Baron Francois Jean Baptiste de Paravicini who died while in French service in the Seven-Year War. Despite his fighting for the French, the general’s son, Baron Joseph de Paravicini moved to England and married. Joseph’s grandsons became, by all accounts, “veddy, veddy” British bearing the names Percy John, Harry Farquhar and Before Frederick Paravicini. Percy and Harry were celebrated for their cricket skills at Eton and Harrow and known for the fact that they married sisters -Lady Marcia and Lady Eva Cholmondeley- sisters of the 4th Marquess of Cholmondeley.

This passport was included in a quite interesting document lot of 16 passports, auctioned in November 2023.


Here is another Paravicini passport issued in Chur, Switzerland in 1798.


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...

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