Passport Collecting is a small but fine topic within the ephemera world. By today there are only few books or other sources available which discussing/describing this very interesting area of “paper collection”. Since I established the website PASSPORT-COLLECTOR.COM in September 2010, the amount of visitor is constantly growing and the website is well recognized by collectors and other interested groups. E.g. About.com, Wikipedia, Ephemera Society in UK and US. Passport-Collector.com is also available at Twitter and Instagram. The basic idea is to create a common understanding to passport history and to give some recommendation into passport collecting. This guideline is the first one of a series and describes the passports of the German Empire. More guidelines are planned for the future.
German Empire – Brief History
The German Empire (German: Deutsches Reich, but also the called Kaiserlich Deutsches Reich or Kaiserreich by some German historians) refers to Germany from the unification of Germany and proclamation of William I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871 to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of William II (28 November 1918). Deutsches Reich remained the official name of Germany throughout the Weimar period and most of the Nazi period until 1943, when it was changed to Großdeutsches Reich (“Great German Empire”). The German Empire consisted of 26 constituent territories (if Alsace-Lorraine is included) but the Kingdom of Prussia contained most of the population and most of the territory of the Empire. The most important bordering states were Imperial Russia in the east, France in the west, and Austria-Hungary in the south. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire emerged as one of the most powerful industrial economies in the world and a great power, until it collapsed following its military defeat in World War I and the concurrent November Revolution.
Passports of the German Empire
Passports of the German Empire are a very interesting collection area. It is possible to find these documents still in good condition. Items of the 4 Kingdom’s are quite good available while Saxony and Württemberg are more rare to find than Prussia and Bavaria. All other states are occasionally available but more difficult/extremely difficult to find/collect. The passports rated RRRR you should grab at any chance and even in poor condition as they are indeed extremely rare to find!
Rarity: C = common, R = rare, RR = very rare, RRR = most rare, RRRR = extremely rare
Condition: these documents are mostly still in very good condition and can even be found in excellent condition – which affects the value of course
Value: A passport is more “valuable” when used; when revenues, stamps or visas are available; also when the document was issued abroad by a consulate or embassy. There are many factor’s to consider when it comes to “value” and I don’t mean the financial value only but the historical value as well. As we all know there is always someone who is willing to pay more than you.