US Seamen Passport 1943 with border stamps

US Seamen Passport 1943 with border stamps

Over the years, I have seen many US Seaman passports but never one with border stamps. This is the very first one, and it’s a pretty rare example of a passport-type which was only for a brief time in use during the US involvement during WWII. But this passport is even more impressive than just having some stamping.

I always wondered why these Seaman passports never had any stamps and got earlier in contact with an officer at the U.S. Department of State who kindly was digging into the archives and replied me the following.

“On June 21, 1941, Congress passed 55 Stat. 252 amending law from WWI which effectively required everyone entering or leaving the United States to carry a passport.  Department Order 1003 outlined the particulars which put the law into effect at 0600 on January 15, 1942.  I can’t find any mention anywhere about whether stamps would or would not be put in the passport.  However, it was only required as a war measure to identify who came and went.  As such, I could see why there wouldn’t have been a need to put stamps in the books and why it might have been a security measure not to record their comings and goings.  Or it could just be that they were moving from the continental U.S. to U.S. bases or territories and therefore wouldn’t have needed stamps. I’ll keep looking, and if I find anything more, I’ll let you know.”

This Seaman passport was issued to Richard Henry Carignan from Hartford, CT. Richard was born 31 Oct 1924, which makes him just 18+ years old when his Seaman passport was issued on 15 July 1943. His passport also has two serial numbers, which I think is unusual as well. At the upper margin, we find the No. 118013 and the lower margin shows US 24260.

And then there are two border stamps on the last page. One is from Istanbul, Turkey dated 28.12.(19)51, and from Alexandria, Egypt dated 28 May 1953!

Richard’s Seaman passport came with further documents like two reference letters from American Export Lines, U.S. Merchant Marine Officer licenses from June 1956 and U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Discharge from April 1953.

I informed my contact at the DoS about my findings, and she replied.

What an interesting find!!!  And how odd.  The lack of expiry date actually throws me.  Since the very beginning passports have had at least a two year from the issuance expiration date, even if not written on the document.  I need to go back and view more bio pages for the seaman’s passport and then review all the regulations of the time to get a better understanding.  But this is definitely a treasure!!!  Every time something like this pops up, it sends me looking down more rabbit holes to try to understand the minutiae of the law and regulations of the time.  There is always something new to learn!”

US Seamen Passport 1943 with border stamps

US Seaman passports were discontinued on August 1945 but how is it possible that his passport includes stamps from 1951 and 1953? Eight, resp. ten years after his passport was issued? US Seaman passports had no expiry date on the document nor in the printed text on the inner back cover. Was it just assumed his Seaman passport was good for travel? So far, this collectible remains a curious riddle — a great piece of US passport history.

US Seamen Passport 1943 with border stamps

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...