Rare Liechtenstein passport issued in 1915
the tiny Principality between Germany, Switzerland, Austria-Hungary, and Italy had in 1915 only 8700 citizens, but how many had a passport then? I believe maybe 10% of the population, which ends up at approximately 900 passports. To find such a passport is a big joy, and it’s a highlight for any collector. The document is not only in excellent condition but also shows four different passport pictures of its bearer, a woman, traveling to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria-Hungary. Several visas are included and probably due to wartime measures she had to deliver several times a new passport photo for her visas. It’s pretty unusual to find a passport with such a high amount of passport photos. Also, the Austrian-Hungary embassy in Munich added another sixteen extra visa pages to her passport of the original sixteen pages. Lastly, there is also a Liechtenstein revenue stamp of 50 Heller on page one.
But wait, there is the passport number 2061, which means that this amount of passports were issued in 1915. At least for that year, it brings the share of passport holders to 23%, which is still a low number. And how many of these passports survived till today, 2019 – almost 100 years later?
Anna’s passport was issued in Vaduz on 30 March 1915, in the early days of passport booklets and of the passport photos. Anna was 36 years old when her travel document was issued. Her eyes were blue-grey, brown hairs, and she was of middle size statue. Even a small scar on her left cheek is documented in the passport. All stamps and visas are crisp and clear, which adds value to the generally excellent condition of this beautiful historical travel document.
I asked the Liechtenstein passport office if they can provide some historical data on its passport history. Once they reply, I will update the article.
Rare Liechtenstein passport issued in 1915
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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?
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 😉
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...