US Legation Paris passport 1814 Talleyrand

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The following passport belonged to a dedicated collector of Napoleonic period items who bought it because of an early signature of a man who becomes later well know by the name TALLEYRAND. US Legation Paris passport

US Legation Paris passport
Portrait of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord by François Gérard © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The United States passport issued at the Legation in Paris in 1814 granting John.P.Todd freedom to travel from Paris to Ghent (signed by Todd as attaché with the American mission). Signed by William.H.Crawford, the American minister to France. After returning to the US, he served as War and Treasury Secretary and was later a candidate for the presidential nomination, which he abandoned to make way for James Monroe. Signed by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, Napoleon’s foreign minister with an early signature as Prince de Benevento. US Legation Paris passport

This portrait of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord (1754-1838), Prince of Benevento, reflects its subject’s reputation: fearless and serene, with a slight smile (even a smirk?) on his lips. When Gérard painted it during the year 1807-1808, Talleyrand had resigned as Napoleon’s foreign minister on 10 August 1807 because of his opposition to the Emperor’s plans for an alliance with Russia.

The portrait remained in the Talleyrand family through the Prince of Benevento’s nephew until 2012 when it was sold, through the dealer Wildenstein, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.



The US Legation Paris passport

In 1813, President James Madison appointed Crawford as the US minister to France during the waning years of Napoleon’s First French Empire. Crawford served until 1815, shortly after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Today, when speaking of the art of diplomacy, the phrase “he is a Talleyrand” is used to describe a statesman of great resourcefulness and craft. The American Legation passport issued in Paris is in overall great condition. Signed by Crawford and Talleyrand. The Red wax seal is complete and crisp.

US Legation Paris passport
American Legation Paris, July 15, 1814
US Legation Paris passport
Talleyrand’s’ early signature Prince de Benevento1814 as French foreign minister

A beautiful passport historical document with signatures of two significant persons in history. Many thanks to Bill de Montigny, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, for permitting me to display this extraordinary passport. US Legation Paris passport


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?

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...