I am writing to you because I came across your website and your book ‘Let Pass or Die’ when doing initial research in preparation for my graduation project. Your collection and knowledge of passport design history have been a fantastic source of inspiration and helped me immensely during my graduation project.
-Pontus Höglund, Rotterdam, Netherlands-

I just wanted to send a quick note to mention that I’ve been enjoying your website. I was searching for information about European citizenship and somehow tripped into the topic of collecting passports. I’m intrigued by the stories associated with many of them, and I’ve enjoyed hours of research learning about collecting passports and the nuanced differences/peculiarities. Your book has been wildly insightful. I enjoyed it.
-Derek Sandheinrich, Hamburg, Germany-

Fascinating website! Thank you!
-David J. Wasserman, NYC, USA-

I browsed your page several times and congratulate you on your impressive work and what must be an even more impressive collection.
-Bastian Matteo Scianna, Lecturer at University Potsdam (History of the Schengen Agreement), Potsdam, Germany-

Keep up the good work – I love your site.
-David Anderson, NYC, USA-

Thank you for such an informative website.
-Clint Daniel, North Hollywood, USA-

Your website looks incredible! I’m already hooked up on it and will be for some time. I think I will also buy your book; it looks exciting.
-Lucas, Cambridge, USA-

I just discovered this website, and I love it!
-Brittany Pulford, Dallas, USA-

I love your website so much
-Justin Stokes (Documentary Filmmaker), Hammersmith, UK-

Thank you for your speedy reply, and thanks for the incredible photos that you’ve sent along. Your archive is a trove of rare and precious items. I’m stunned.
-Mark Goldstein, Ontario, CA-

Hi Tom. I’ve just discovered your website and am an instant fan.
-Jefferson McCarley, San Francisco, USA-

I must say you have a fantastic website. I enjoyed all of your articles, but I enjoyed the recent one related to the collector’s market. You hit the spot on that one.
-Christi, Bucharest, RO-

Your website popped out at first sight, and I admired all the information you were sharing!
-Bert Kraker, Amsterdam, NL-

Your book looks incredible – and I am excited to know more about your work.
-Rebecca McElroy, filmmaker, AUS-

Fascinating website, and thanks for the cultural curating/preservation that you do.
-Tom Dunkel, journalist/author, USA-

Thank you so much for your expert advice and guidance.
-Dr. Andrew Norman, book author, UK-

Thank you for your fascinating historical perspectives on passports and for finally facilitating my effort to obtain an old Newfoundland Passport.
-Terry Loder, Canada-

I periodically receive your article via your newsletter. They are fascinating indeed. By the way, your book is excellent, and I’ve been many times throughout it.
Ramon Pinos, USA-

Tom, you have been a great partner for the State Department team throughout this exhibit’s preparation.
-Karin Lang, Director, Bureau of Consular Affairs, US State Dept-

Tom, your website is a fantastic resource with so much fantastic information. What a collection you have.
– David Farley, Prop-Master, UK –

I enjoyed reading your article “A history of passports and their design.”
– Thomas A. Tass, CEO, BORDERPOL –

Thank you, Tom. You’ve been a great help. When I have historical passport questions in the future, I know who to call.
– Tim Winchester, Exchange Movie Canada Inc., Ottawa, CA –

Many thanks for your excellent and informative website on passports, Tom. I’ve found it immensely useful.
– Prof. Peter Stallybrass, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA –

Hi Tom! Thank you for such a fascinating website. testimonials
– Brinn Black, Country/Pop Singer, Nashville, USA –

Enjoying your posts. Sharing this with my contacts.
– Thomas Poe, USA, Independent, and GLG Sales, Conference & Technical Consultant for Secure Document Covert Ultra Violet Pigments and inks –

Congrats, Tom, your work is impressive. testimonials
– Carlos Sasias, Uruguay, Encargado del Centro de Capacitación Migratoria –

Hi Tom, Wow, what a fascinating page! Maybe in the future, I can start collecting old passports.
– A reader from the USA –

“Very well done, dear Tom. You understood the dimension of the rescue activity of my stepfather Carl Lutz. I am very grateful you made this publication!”
– Agnes Hirschi, Journalist, Muenchenbuchsee, Switzerland –

“I love your website.”
– Ellen Freund, Property Master, Los Angeles, USA –

“I was searching for passport expertise, and you sound exactly right for what we want to cover.”
– Dearbhla Gavin, producer BBC Essex –

“Your website is excellent, really very interesting! Thank you”
– M.F., Criminal Intelligence Analyst at Federico Fellini International Airport, Rimini (Italy) –

“Your website is unique and important. You do good work, Tom.”
– M.B., Holocaust collector / Philanthropist, USA –

“Your webpage is very well written, interesting and informative, and I enjoyed reading it. You’ve done an excellent job!”
– T. Lloyd, Reader, UK –

“It is an honor and pleasure meeting you at the BMC. Your profound knowledge of passports is an asset to the secure document industry. It’s good to be connected to an expert like you.”
– Prof. Raymond Wong, Biometrics Research Center at Hong Kong Polytechnic University –

“I enjoyed looking at your website and reading some of the exciting historical features you have! Well done, really interesting. Perhaps we could collaborate on one of my next projects?” testimonials
– Yanko Tihov, Yanko BA of Fine Arts and Printmaking –

“Thank you so much! You provided me with a ton of information (on Goodrum’s passport) and enlightened parts of our collection. Traveling to Egypt explains some of the Egyptian motifs in the garden.”
– Barbara Hyde, Curator, Goodrum House, Atlanta, GA –

“Topol’s website, Passport-collector, is a goldmine of information on historical and important travel documents.”
– Businessinsider UK –

“I had the opportunity to interact with Tom concerning old passport documents I have, and I am amazed at his knowledge and pinpointing details from the documents as old as 1909/1911. The information you get bangs on…more like an encyclopedia…”
– Khilen Dharmsinh, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman –

“Glad to come across your site! I will look forward to exploring your posts!”
– Peter J. Spiro, Charles Weiner Professor of Law, Temple University Law School –

“Cool site. I’m writing a historical novel and wonder if you know or could point to a place that might help in the next thought. – Tom, Thanks for your response. Very helpful.”
– SD, Dallow, MN, USA –

“Thank you for sharing your work, as you always give us an important glimpse into history.” testimonials
Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897 –

“Exactly the kind of information I have been looking around for a long time. A real gem!”

“I am writing to you from the film production company Serena film based in Prague. We are preparing a film about the Jewish Kindertransport from Austria after the Nazi occupation of Austria in 1938. An essential element of certain scenes is the use of “Reich” passports issued to Austrian citizens shortly after the occupation with the infamous J stamp. After extensively browsing and familiarizing myself with the world of passport collecting, you proved to be the foremost authority on the subject as much as someone who has previously worked with television and film productions.”

“BLOODY MARVELOUS document you sent to me! Thank you very much” (Jersey passport 1753). “Thank you very much for all your input and information. I will refer your website to other people I know, as I have quite a few friends and family members with things of a similar nature. Thank you once again so very much.

“Your website is a fabulous resource for collectors – a Passport Collectors Paradise!”

“Your website is so impressive that if anyone knew the approximate value of old passports, it would be you.”

“I just spent one hour exploring your website and have to say this hour was well spent. I learned a lot about passports and their history. A great source!”

“Fascinating site — I found it while researching for a documentary I am editing about European Jews who fled the Holocaust to Ecuador.   We saw one passport that would be great to illustrate a section on obtaining visas to leave — is it possible for us to get a high-resolution scan of what you have posted and get permission to use it in our film?” testimonials

“Hello – excellent website! I am fascinated by the history of passports and other documents. I don’t think I’ve found a better website / more comprehensive collection to date. Keep it up!”

“Glad to see you had a useful trip to London again recently, Tom – your website is certainly a great resource. Thanks again for your help.”

“… your knowledge about passports is vast!” testimonials.

“All I can say is wow. I did some reading and research to post something interesting about the passport and its history, but your site is a public library on the topic.”

“You have amazing material. My Ph.D. dissertation is on internal passports in Peru, and your links are very beneficial.”

“Thank you very much for the information on my document. You have an excellent site, informative and fun to look through.”

“Thank you for your expertise. I appreciate your reasoning and will convey all your information to the owner. You have certainly studied this collecting area, and I will share information about you. This is vital information.”

“Tom, many thanks for your very nice note and related information. I will stay in touch with you, and I appreciate the candid and excellent background you provided me.” testimonials

“I want to thank you for your site – it is fantastic. You are doing a great job – your website is very professional and informative.”

“Your website is a fabulous resource for collectors.”
-9 Miles of Ephemera & Antiques-

“Thanks so much to you for your expertise, your kind assistance, and for facilitating the connection with your fellow collector on my topic. Your site is amazing, and I know I’ll be back!”

“You truly have an impressive and informative website. It is not surprising that so many influential individuals seek you out for help and expertise.” testimonials.

“Thank you so much for your fast response. This is incredibly helpful, and you have answered my questions completely.”

“Great website I just stumbled upon, which seems the only online resource!”

“Thank you again for introducing me to this fascinating hobby!” testimonials

“Hi there. I can see on your website that you’re the world expert on passports! I am a valuer of manuscripts and art here in Australia. I have never valued a passport before. Thank you so much, Tom. As I said, this is outside my expertise, so it has been a sharp learning curve.

“I stumbled upon your website when looking for Ottoman Empire passports; yours was essentially the only dedicated site.”

If you like what I am doing, or want to start your collection, or need research support, please get in touch with me. You are also welcome to sign up for my push notifications / newsletter to get the latest news about historical travel documents.

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FAQ Passport History
Passport collection, passport renewal, old passports for sale, vintage passport, emergency passport renewal, same day passport, passport application, pasaporte passeport паспорт 护照 パスポート جواز سفر पासपोर्ट

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...