Not often a collector can find such a true passport historical treasure. A red passport by the State of Vietnam in 1957. It is not exaggerated when I say this travel document is rare.
The State of Vietnam was a state that claimed authority over all of Vietnam during the First Indochina War although part of its territory was actually controlled by the communist Việt Minh. The state was created in 1949 and was internationally recognized in 1950.
Former Emperor Bảo Đại was chief of state (Quốc Trưởng). After the 1954 Geneva Agreements, the State of Vietnam had to abandon the northern part of the country to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). Ngô Đình Diệm was appointed prime minister that same year and—after having ousted Bảo Đại in 1955—became president of the Republic of Vietnam.
The United States recognized the State of Viet Nam on February 7, 1950, when the U.S. Department of State made an announcement to that effect. Vietnam previously had been part of Indochina as a Protectorate of France and had become an independent state as part of the French Union in 1949.
The State of Viet Nam incorporated all of the territories of contemporary Vietnam. The United States established its first full consular post in the French colony of Indochina in the city of Saigon on December 9, 1907.
There had been a commercial agent in this city since 1889. The United States established additional consulates as follows: Hanoi (1947); Hue(1957).
Diplomatic relations were established on February 17, 1950, when the Consulate General at Saigon was raised to Legation status with Edmund A. Gullion as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim. The United States Legation in Saigon was raised to Embassy status on June 24, 1952, when Ambassador Donald R. Heath received confirmation of his appointment from the United States Senate.
This followed a joint announcement by the Governments of the United States and Vietnam to this effect on June 6, 1952.
As a result of the First Indochina War and the Geneva Conference of 1954 that marked its conclusion, the territory of the State of Vietnam became divided along the 17th parallel, with separate regimes in the North and South. The United States was not a signatory to the Geneva Accords and so did not recognize the Government of North Vietnam.
The United States maintained its Embassy in Saigon and conducted diplomatic relations solely with the Government of South Vietnam, which in 1955 reorganized itself as the Republic of Vietnam.
The passport was issued in Saigon in 1957 and was valid until 1959.
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?
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...