Mecklenburg-Schwerin Consular Passport

Mecklenburg-Schwerin Consular Passport

This more than one hundred and sixty-year-old passport (large double-folio) from the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin is a scarce document issued at their Embassy in the Kingdom of Prussia in 1858 to notable composer Carl Luehrss.


His passport was valid for three months and has passport no. 4 of the passport register from Berlin, 4 March 1858. The low number indicates that not many travel documents have been issued there. In fact, I never saw a German consular passport of the smaller duchies, grand duchies, or principalities before. The passport states Luehrss was tall and had blonde hair. His journey was to Aachen.

From Berlin to Aachen, it’s a distance of more than 600km, and that means he would travel several days. If he used his own transport or public transport, we could only speculate.

  Mecklenburg-Schwerin Consular Passport



Carl Lührß (* April 7, 1824, in Schwerin; † November 11, 1882, in Berlin) was a German composer. When the passport was issued, he was 34 years old. His father was the Schwerin palace organist and court musician Friedrich Lührß, who also gave him his first musical education. From 1840 he studied at the Academy of Arts in Berlin, where Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy became aware of him and taught him. In 1841 he made his first public appearance as a pianist. From 1847 to 1848, he made a trip to Italy and then returned to Schwerin. In 1851 he took up residence in Berlin. Mecklenburg-Schwerin Consular Passport

Lührß was considered a great talent but largely ceased his compositional activities after his marriage to a wealthy woman (1851). His presumably last work was premiered in 1874. He last lived at Derfflingerstraße 14 in Berlin-Tiergarten, where he died at 58 in 1882. His estate, consisting of printed music and musical manuscripts (5 boxes, about 100 volumes), is housed at the Berlin University of the Arts. Unfortunately, numerous works appear to be lost, including a Psalm (1845), the unfinished opera The Siege of Saragossa, whose overture was performed in 1863, and the overture In Spring (1865). Mecklenburg-Schwerin Consular Passport

I can’t read who signed the passport from the embassy side, but it seems it was not the ambassador itself. Ambassador was von 1858 until his death in 1861, Ernst von Hopffgarten.

Mecklenburg-Schwerin Consular Passpor


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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...