When Siam became Thailand

History Siam Thailand Passport

Around a thousand years ago, people who spoke a language from the Tai group settled in what is now Thailand. The Sanskrit word syam is where the name Siam originated. The Portuguese used it starting in the sixteenth century, and it eventually became a widely used geographical term. Kingdoms came and went, but starting in the 1780s, the Bangkok-based Chakri dynasty reigned over all of Siam. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they expanded their dominion into portions of current Laos, Cambodia, and Malaya, but they were compelled to cede those lands to the French. Siam Thailand Passport

A radical People’s Party was founded in 1927. One of its founders was an army officer by the name of Phibun (full name Luang Phibunsongkhram), who in 1932 assisted in leading a coup against the Chakri king and installed a government with a parliament that was more like western democracy. The monarchy continued, but Phibun became the dictator in 1938. He renamed the nation Thailand and was a fervent nationalist and modernizer.

Phibun’s resolve to modernize his people while also highlighting their distinctive individuality led to the transformation. The motto “Thailand for the Thai,” was an anti-Chinese action. There were many profitable Chinese enterprises and a large number of Chinese people living there, but Phibun reduced Chinese immigration and established Thai firms with government support while restricting the use of Mandarin in Chinese schools to just two hours per week. Phibun mandated that Thais dress in Western-style, including caps, and Thailand adopted the Western calendar while also creating a new flag and national anthem. Siam Thailand Passport

In the Second World War, Thailand was allied with Japan, and Phibun was forced to retire in 1944. However, in 1948, he came back to power with the support of the military, and the army ruled Thailand with assistance from the US. In 1957, opponents eventually forced out Phibun. He withdrew to Japan, where he passed away in 1964 at the age of 66.

The Passport

As Siam was officially renamed Thailand on 23 June 1939, this passport is a curious case as the document was issued in 1947 in Bangkok to a couple. The passport was valid for two years and has a hardcover. I have seen 2-3 Siam types and all had a softcover.
Siam Thailand 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...