Passport Johann Philipp von Schönborn 1658

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Schönborn, Johann Philipp von, Elector and Archbishop of Mainz (1605-1673). Passport with his signature. Mainz, Martinsburg, 7. I. 1658.

Passport for German diplomat Philipp Otto von Herzelles (died. 1662). Old German text: “Wir […] ersuchen hiemit alle und iede hohe und nidere kriegs officier, die soldatesca ins gemein und sonsten manniglichen standts würden nach respective freund- günst- und gnediglich, den unserigen aber ernstlich befehlendt, sie wollen gegenwertigen den vesten unsern hoffrhat, und lieben getrewen Philipps Otto von Herzelles, welchen wir sambt andern unser herrn mitchurfürsten, in gewießen geschefften nacher Franckreich und Hispanien verschicken, sambt bey sich habenden dienern, pferden, und bagage, aller ortten frey sicher und ongehindert pass- und repassiren lassen, demselben auch zu sicherer und schläuniger fortkommung allen gueten befürderlichen willen erweißen, daß sind wir umb einen jeden standts gebühr nach hinwiderumb zuerkennen erbietig, die anzeiger aber vollziehen unseren gnedigisten willen […].” Passport Johann von Schönborn

Passport Johann von Schönborn

Philipp Otto von Herzelles was traveling to France and Spain. A fantastic early travel document with traces of a lost wax seal.

Passport Johann von SchönbornJohann Philipp von Schönborn (6 August 1605 – 12 February 1673) was the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz (1647–1673), the Bishop of Würzburg (1642–1673), and the Bishop of Worms (1663–1673). His diplomatic skills made him an essential mediator during the Peace of Westphalia negotiations that ended the Thirty Years’ War in 1648. As a result, he was elected Archbishop of Mainz in 1647, thus also the Electorate of Mainz and archchancellor of the Holy Roman empire. In 1663 he also received the prince-bishopric of Worms. He was an effective administrator of his principalities and was able to bring back economic recovery. He fortified the city of Mainz with the Fortress of Mainz and Mainz Citadel between 1655 and 1675. He also founded hospitals and high schools. His court was a center of German politics in the post-war era. Passport Johann von Schönborn

Johann Philipp was the first of six members of the Schönborn family who, in the course of more than three generations, were to rule over eight of the most prestigious ecclesiastical principalities of the Holy Roman Empire, giving the name Schönbornzeit to an era (1642–1756) sometimes nostalgically remembered in the popular conscience as an era of prosperity. His contemporaries gave him the honorable titles of “The Wise,” “The German Solomon,” and “The Cato of Germany.” Today, the term Schönbornzeit denotes a particular Rhenish and Franconian baroque style.


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...