Getting Together with Agnes Hirschi

Agnes Hirschi Lutz 

Agnes Hirschi and Tom Topol_Bern 2023
Agnes & Tom, Berne May 2023

During my extensive journey across Europe, I experienced immense joy when reuniting with dear friend Agnes Hirschi in Bern, Switzerland’s picturesque city. After years, the reunion was a truly heartwarming experience.

Agnes graciously fetched me from the train station. Together, we indulged in a delightful rendezvous at the charming Rose Garden—a serene haven with breathtaking vistas of the city below. The sun graciously illuminated our surroundings, enhancing the beauty of the day, and leaving an indelible mark on my memory. Agnes Hirschi Lutz 

During our conversation, we got into the various ventures in which Agnes is actively engaged. I couldn’t help but admire her indomitable spirit, as she fearlessly traverses the globe at the remarkable age of 85. Merely a few days after our encounter, she found herself participating in a radio interview for a Swiss audience, a testament to her unwavering dedication. In this captivating dialogue, Agnes eloquently recounts her poignant experiences as a young girl amidst the tumultuous backdrop of war-ravaged Budapest.

She recounts her arduous ordeal of seeking refuge in a basement for a harrowing seven weeks, seeking shelter from relentless bombings and the impending arrival of Soviet forces, which ultimately engulfed the city. For those interested, I invite you to listen to this profound account in Swiss German by clicking the link provided, here. Agnes Hirschi Lutz 

Subsequently, we adjourned to Ange’s abode, where she skillfully prepared a delectable midday feast, replete with a tantalizing assortment of flavors. The culinary affair culminated with an exquisite homemade peach mousse, an ethereal delicacy that delighted our palates. Our gastronomic journey reached its zenith with a sublime pairing of coffee and schnapps, providing a fitting conclusion to the sensory symphony of tastes. The experience was truly a gustatory delight!

Agnes Hirschi and Tom Topol_Bern 2023
Agnes & Tom, Bern May 2023

As previously mentioned, Agnes finds herself immersed in a multitude of forthcoming projects, each presenting an array of challenges infused with state-of-the-art technologies. The prospect of embarking upon such ventures surely evokes an exhilarating sense of anticipation. Moreover, let us not overlook the profound significance of bearing witness to the living legacies of war and the Holocaust, as their recollections serve as an indelible testament to our shared history.

Within the ravaged walls of the Swiss residence and the enchanting city of Budapest, a treasure trove of photographs captured by the esteemed Swiss consul, Carl Lutz, unveiled itself before my eyes.

These captivating snapshots, previously unseen by the public, stood as a testament to Lutz’s unwavering passion and remarkable photographic prowess. With meticulous care, he immortalized the essence of Budapest during the summers and winters of 1944, as well as the nascent stages of post-war existence, crafting an unparalleled visual narrative. Agnes Hirschi Lutz 

Moreover, amidst this captivating collection, I had the pleasure of beholding the British passport of a youthful Agnes, a mere 22 years old at the time, alongside a selection of her aged Swiss passports. These documents provided a fascinating glimpse into the vibrant tapestry of Agnes’s personal history, offering both intrigue and admiration.

Agnes Hirschi_Bern 2023
Agnes with personal photographs of Carl Lutz and family, Bern, May 2023


As the hours slipped through my grasp like grains of sand, a sense of urgency gripped me, for it was time to bid farewell and embark on my journey towards the airport. Dear Agnes, the moments we shared were nothing short of extraordinary.

I am profoundly grateful for your boundless hospitality, which transformed my stay into a cherished memory. May destiny align our paths once more at my forthcoming destination, where I eagerly anticipate our next encounter.

Short biography of Agnes Hirschi




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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...