Nobleman escaping the French Revolution in 1796

Nobleman escaping French Revolution
French revolutionNot often you find passports of Germany that old and in good condition – passports of the 18th century are rare at all. I was lucky enough to grab this nice document for my collection. What you see here is the passport of Count de la POTHERIE (Family Anjou – Angers) on his escape from the French Revolution, like many other noblemen escaping to South Germany at that time. Nobleman escaping French Revolution

The French Revolution was a watershed event in modern European history that began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte. During this period, French citizens razed and redesigned their country’s political landscape, uprooting centuries-old institutions such as the absolute monarchy and the feudal system.

German Text Nobleman escaping French Revolution

Nachdem Vorweiser dieß Herr Graf de la Potherie mit Bewilligung der k. k. V(order) Ö(sterreichisch)en hohen Landesstelle sich dahier über zwei Jahre aufgehalten, und während dieser Zeit ganz untadelhaft betragen; nun aber wegen der neüerlichen Feindesgefahr sich anderwärts, und zwar nach AUGSBURG, und allenfalls weiters in das Reich zu begeben willens ist: also haben unterzeichnete ihm Herrn Grafen de la Potherie zu seinem ungehinderten Fortkom(m)en gegenwärtigen Reisepass mit dem Ansuchen ertheilet, um demselben nöthigen falls all möglichen Vorschub geneigtest angedeihen zu lassen. Zu dessen Bekräftigung haben wir das gewöhnliche Oberamts-Insigel nebst unserer Unterfertigung hirfür drücken lassen.

English Text Nobleman escaping French Revolution

After Mr. Count de la Potherie, with the permission of the k. k. V(order) Ö(sterreichisch) hohe Landesstelle has stayed here for more than two years, and during this time has behaved quite blamelessly; but now, because of the new danger of the enemy, is willing to go elsewhere, namely to Augsburg. And if necessary, further into the Empire. So the undersigned have granted him, Count de la Potherie, the present passport with the request for his unhindered continuation. To provide him with all possible assistance if necessary. In confirmation of this, we have had the customary insignia of the Chief Magistrate’s Office pressed here together with our signature.

German Passport French Nobleman

Tettnang (Lake Konstanz), 27. Mach 1796. 1 ½ pp. in-fol. German. Blind stamp (seal). On the back, a note from an officer in Merseburg, 8. August 1799. At this time, the count traveled to Konstanz. Nobleman escaping French Revolution

A German Soldier’s Diary In The American Revolution


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...