George John Gordon Appointment as Ambassador to Switzerland in 1855

 George John Gordon Ambassador

Such appointments are pretty rare to find! George John Gordon Appointment as Ambassador to Switzerland in 1855.

Antique appointment credentials, signed by Queen Victoria, appointing British diplomat George John Robert Gordon (1812-1912), as Minister Plenipotentiary to the Swiss Confederation. A post he held until 1858. Signed boldly in black ink in the top left-hand corner and affixed with the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, featuring Queen Victoria seated on her throne on one side and on her horse holding a scepter on the other, held with silver thread cord. George John Gordon Ambassador

“Victoria, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. etc. etc George John Gordon Ambassador
To All and Singular to whom these Presents shall come into discussion, between Us and the Swiss Confederation, We have judged it expedient to invest a fit person with Full Powers to conduct the said discussion on Our Part. Know thee, therefore, We, reposing especial Trust and Confidence in the Wisdom, Loyalty, Diligence, and Circumspection of Our Trusty and well Beloved George John Robert Gordon, Esquire, Our Minister Plenipotentiary to the Swiss Confederation, have named, made constituted, and appointed, as We do by these Presents name, make, constitute, and appoint him Our undoubted Commissioner, Procurator, and Plenipotentiary: Giving to him all manner of Power and Authority to treat, adjust, and conclude, with such Minister or Ministers as may be vested with similar Power and Authority on the part of the Swiss Confederation, any Treaty, Convention, or Agreement that may tend to the attention of the above-mentioned, and to sign for Us and in Our Name, everything so agreed upon and concluded and to do and transact all such other matters as may appertain to the finishing of the aforesaid work, in as ample manner and form, and with equal force and efficacy, as We Ourselves could do, if Personally Present: Engaging and Promising upon Our Royal Word, that whatever things shall be so transacted  and concluded by Our said Commissioner, Procurator and Plenipotentiary , shall be agreed to, acknowledged, and accepted by Us in the fullest manner, and that We will never suffer, either in the whole or in part, any person whatsoever to infringe the same, or act contrary thereto, as far as it lies in Our Power. In Witness of which We have caused the Great Seal of Our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to be affixed to these Presents, which We have signed with Our Royal Hand. Given at Our Court at Buckingham Palace, the Twenty-Seventh day of April, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty-Five, and in the eighteenth year of Our Reign.” George John Gordon Ambassador

George John Gordon Ambassador

Gordon was the oldest child of Alexander Gordon and Albinia Elizabeth Cumberland; and joined the diplomatic service in 1833. He served at Stockholm, Stuttgart, Rio de Janeiro, Hanover, and Berne. He married Rosa Justina Young in Rio in 1843, and they had three children. After 30 years of marriage, however, Gordon declared himself a bachelor and married again. He died in 1912 in Würzburg.


Document Size: 52 x 36 cm approx

George John Gordon Ambassador

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  1. I asked a fellow collector and US Consul about these documents. Here, his reply…

    There are three kinds of documents you might see, all of which are still in use.

    1. There are commissions that appoint diplomatic and consular officers to ranks within the Foreign Service. There will say that someone who is appointed a secretary in the diplomatic service, for instance. They are the equivalent of the commissions that military officers receive to establish their rank in the Army, Navy, etc.

    2. Increasingly rarely you will see an appointment patent that appoints an officer to be a consul or consul-general to a particular place. These are issued by the sending government for the benefit of the host government. More frequently, but rarely seen on the market, are appointments of ambassadors to their countries of assignment.

    3. Finally, and now infrequently used, are exequaturs that host governments issue to the consul or consul-general in response to an appointment patent. These documents are essentially licenses from the host government that recognize the consular officer’s legitimate status in the receiving country.

    All of these documents seem to be treated as the personal property of the officer who receives them.

    What happens with these documents? Many colleagues I know frame the commissions as people frame university diplomas. Commissions have had essentially the same form going back to the 1790s and the current documents look almost identical to those issued in the 1840s and onward.

  2. Any collector of old passports, who finds the available number of passports stretching his resources both spatial and financial, may now be truly reconsidering his collection, and decide to restrict him/herself to collecting certificates of plenipotentiary appointments.

    1. Thank you, Martin. Personally, I find such appointment documents interesting as they are a suitable addition to a passport collection. Such documents were issued and signed by the secretary of state for a specific post and consul/ambassador, hence they are pretty rare to find. I actually wonder how such documents can end up at the collectors market as I assume they are usually kept at the state department. Or can the person keep it? I am not sure. I will investigate.

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