MUSSOLINI’S ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION

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MUSSOLINI’S ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION
Passport of the Hon Violet Gibson, used by her on her journey to Rome where she attempted to assassinate Benito Mussolini, together with other family papers, the collection comprising: her passport no. 158876, issued to “The Honourable Violet Albinia Gibson”, her photograph date-stamped by the Foreign Office 6 November 1924, the passport marked as valid until 6 November 1926, with visa-stamps made on her embarkation from Boulogne on 7 November 1924 and on her entry into Italy at Modane on 8 November 1924, the three principal pages later scored through in red and stamped as cancelled, blue cloth with gilt arms as issued, barely discernable traces of damp-staining, 8vo; together with an uncashed autograph cheque signed (“Violet Gibson”) made out to Lord Ashbourne [her brother, William, the second Baron] for £50, 4 April 1926 (three days before the assassination attempt); her mother the Dowager Lady Ashbourne’s bankbook kept between January 1924 and her death on 21 March 1926, with later entries; and an officially certified copy of her mother’s death certificate, issued the day after her death, on 22 March 1926.
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  • THE WOMAN WHO SHOT MUSSOLINI: the passport used by Violet Gibson (1876-1956) at the time she attempted to assassinate Mussolini in the Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome, at just before eleven in the morning on 7 April 1926. She was at the time standing less than a foot away from him. Her first shot, fired at point blank range, grazed his nose as he tilted his head back to acknowledge the rapturous crowd, while the second jammed in her pistol. Pardoned by Mussolini – whose popularity was much enhanced by the failed attempt – she was returned to England a year later, spending the rest of her life at St Andrew’s Asylum in Northampton. Her story has recently been told in Frances Stonor Saunders’s acclaimed study, The Woman who Shot Mussolini (2010). This passport, incidentally, gets her middle name wrong, which should be ‘Albina’ rather than the “Albinia”.

Source: Bonhams

FAQ Passport History
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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...