Paul von Medem – Russian Envoy in Vienna 1842

Paul Graf von Medem (* January 9, 1800, in Mitau; † January 10, 1854) was a Russian diplomat. Paul Medem Russian Envoy

Paul von Medem studied law at the University of Berlin from 1818, where he became a member of the Corps Curonia Berlin. From 1819 to 1820, he continued his studies at the University of Heidelberg. There he joined the Corps Curonia Heidelberg. After completing his studies, he entered the diplomatic service of the Russian Empire. Initially working as an embassy counselor in Paris, he was Russian chargé d’affaires in London from 1834 to 1835. From 1840 to 1841, he was a Russian envoy in Stuttgart and Darmstadt. After serving on a special mission from 1841 to 1848, he was a Russian envoy in Vienna from 1848 to 1850. He was appointed Privy Councilor and Chamberlain. Paul Medem Russian Envoy

Since 1838, he was the owner of the Elley manor in Courland, which he endowed as a majorate. His parents were Count Christoph Johann Friedrich von Medem (1763-1838) and his wife Countess Louise von der Pahlen (1778-1831). His brothers were the Russian diplomat Alexander von Medem and the Kurland district marshal and state representative Peter von Medem. Paul Medem Russian Envoy

Passport in German and Russian issued by Paul Graf von Medem as Russian envoy in Vienna to Kollegienrat Alexander von Welenc for a courier trip to Warsaw.

Text in original German… “Thue hiermit allen daran gelegen, kund und zu wissen dass Verzeiger dieses der Kais. Russischen Bothschafts Sekretair, Herr Collegien-Rath und Ritter Alexander von Welenc von hier als Courier mit einem Bedienten nach Warschau und zurück abgefertigt worden ist. Als wird ein Jeder, dem dieses vorgezeigt wird, nach Stand und Würde von mir geziemend ersucht, gedachten Herrn Collegienrath von Welenc nebst einem Diener überall frey und ungehindert bis nach Warschau und zurück passiren zu lassen. […]”.

With the lithographic coats of arms of Tsar Nicholas I and Paul Count von Medem. Countersigned by an official and confirmed by the Imperial-Royal Secret House, Court, and State Chancellery. With numerous embassy and police notes of the border crossings and cities passed. Paul Medem Russian Envoy

This beautiful, rare sizeable double-folio passport in excellent condition is now in my collection. Paul Medem Russian Envoy

Paul Medem Russian EnvoyRussian passport Alexander I 1842 Vienna



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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...

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