Variety Artiste Daisy Weston travels to Finland and Russia in 1911

Variety Artiste Daisy Weston

British passports were the only travel documents that didn’t physically describe their bearer. But Daisy’s passport already had a passport photo at a time when photographs were not expected nor mandatory. The passport photo was generally introduced in 1915. Daisy believed her 1911 passport issued at the British consulate in Copenhagen would benefit her in her travels to Finland and Russia when she added a passport photo. And it seems the British consul granted her this request. Or did she add the photo herself? I don’t believe that the 29 years old Variety performer would alter her travel document. It’s hard to say, but this round photo with Daisy’s face makes this British passport unique. Variety Artiste Daisy Weston

A fellow collector added: “The Daisy Weston passport is a real rarity because of the photograph but I have another observation: it is also in remarkably good condition. Have you ever noticed that most passports belonging to the fair sex tend to be in much better condition than those of their male counterparts? This could be because they generally take better care of things or simply because they travel less frequently.”

Variety Artiste Daisy Weston

The British ambassador to Denmark was then Sir William Conyngham GreeneGCMGKCBPC (29 October 1854 – 30 June 1934), who served as minister to Switzerland, Romania, and ambassador to Japan. The passport has Greene’s printed signature and is hand-signed by his consul. Greene was born in Dublin, Ireland, and was educated at Harrow School and Pembroke College, Oxford.

Sir Conyngham Greene by Walter Stoneman negative, 1919 Given by Walter Stoneman, 1951 Photographs Collection NPG x65985 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Greene entered the Foreign Office in 1877, was posted as Acting Third Secretary to Athens in 1880, and acted as Chargé d’Affaires at Stuttgart and Darmstadt 1883–87. He transferred formally to the Diplomatic Service (then separate from the Foreign Service) in 1877 and was posted as 2nd Secretary at The Hague 1889–91 and Brussels 1891–93. He was then promoted to be Secretary of Legation at Tehran in 1893 and announced again to be “HM Agent at Pretoria with the rank of Chargé d’Affaires” in 1896. Variety Artiste Daisy Weston

Pretoria was then the capital of the Transvaal Republic. On 9 October 1899, the Transvaal government handed Conyngham Greene an ultimatum stating that if in 48 hours British troops did not retire from the border, a state of war would exist. The British government replied that the conditions imposed by the Transvaal were such that the British government could no longer discuss the subject, and the Second Boer War began on 11 October. On that day, Conyngham Greene left Pretoria, and on his arrival at Cape Town a few days later, he “was accorded a magnificent reception. A crowd of 3,000 people gathered sang ‘Rule, Britannia’ and ‘God Save the Queen.'” 

In 1901 Greene was appointed Minister to the Swiss Confederation. While stationed in Berne, he was treasurer of an Appeal Fund set up in 1904 for building a new church, which became the Anglican Church of Saint Ursula in Berne. He remained at Berne until December 1905 and was appointed Minister to Romania in January 1906. In January 1911, he was transferred to Copenhagen as Minister to Denmark, where he stayed only two years. In December 1912, he was made a Privy Counsellor and posted as Ambassador to Japan. He was the King’s representative at the enthronement of the Taishō Emperor in 1915. Variety Artiste Daisy Weston

Sir Conyngham (as he had become) and Lady Lily Greene were among the passengers who landed from the Aquitania at Plymouth on 10 May 1919. According to Greene’s obituary in the Times of London, “he remained in Tokyo until the end of the First World War and proved himself a great Ambassador. His open and genial manner won the confidence of the Japanese. It retained it throughout all the vicissitudes of the War and despite certain difficulties with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. His departure in April 1919 was universally regretted.”

Conyngham Greene was appointed CB in the 1897 New Year Honours. While serving in Japan, he was appointed KCMG. On his return from South Africa, he was knighted KCB in the 1900 Queen’s Birthday Honours – the list mentioned that he was a “late British Agent at Pretoria.” In 1917 he was made an honorary fellow of his old college, Pembroke College, Oxford.

In 1884, while at the Legation at Stuttgart, Conyngham Greene married Lady Lily Frances Stopford, daughter of the 5th Earl of Courtown. They had four children. She died in 1950.



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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...