The Passport Of Captain Francis Garratt was issued in 1875 in London, which makes the travel document 144 years old. But what is most astonishing is the fact that the document looks like made just yesterday. Amazing!
There is not a single flaw at this passport which comes in a custom made brown leather case (the leather is still shiny and indeed perfect). The thin paper of the passport is strengthened by a linen layer, which makes the document much more durable. Also, this is custom made.
The linen material has a light blue color, which gives the document also a greater “importance,” compared to ordinary passports. When I ever saw an old passport in perfect condition, then it’s this one.
In the upper left corner is a visa of the German Empire issued at the German Consulate General in London, 5 July 1875, precisely on the same date when the passport was issued at the Foreign Office in London.
Such services (cases and visas) were done by passport agents like Lee & Carter, West Strand, London – where this customized travel document was ordered as well.
Who was Francis Garratt?
Garratt was born on 19 November 1814, his father, John Garratt
(a Goldsmith) was Lord Mayor of London in 1824. I found military records of Francis serving in the 3rd Prince of Wales’s Regiment of Dragoons Guards. 1832 he was Cornet, 1835 Lieutenant and in 1842 Captain. (Source: The new Army list 1845) Garratt died on 23 May 1884 at at 69 in London.
The Lord Mayor of London is the City of London’s mayor and leader of the City of London Corporation. Within the City, the Lord Mayor is accorded precedence over all individuals except the sovereign and retains various traditional powers, rights, and privileges.
The office of Mayor was instituted in 1189, the first holder of the office being Henry Fitz-Ailwin de Londonestone. The Mayor of the City of London has been elected by the City, rather than appointed by the Sovereign, ever since King John issued a Royal Charter providing for a Mayor in 1215. The title “Lord Mayor” came to be used after 1354, when it was granted to Thomas Legge (then serving his second of two terms) by King Edward III. Lord Mayors are elected for one-year terms; by custom, they do not now serve more than one consecutive term.
The Passport Of Captain Francis Garratt
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...