Vintage Passports and Travel Documents

Although paper travel documents have been around at least since Biblical times, it wasn’t until the 15th century that the form of the modern passport began to take shape. The earliest known European reference to a so-called “safe conduct” document dates to the reign of Henry V, when Parliament endorsed the King’s power to supply such documents to both British subjects and foreign nationals.

These official letters picked up their modern moniker in the 17th century, when King Louis XIV issued letters known as “passe ports,” a reference to passing through a ship’s port, or “passe portes,” describing the act of entering a city’s gates. In part, the name stuck because French was the international language of diplomacy until the early 20th century.

The first passports were typically a folded single-sheet certificate, evolving into a page folded in eight sections and bound with a cardboard cover. Though passports were gradually adopted by most developed nations during the 19th century, in times of peace the documents were viewed as barriers, rather than aids, to travel.

As railways began linking all parts of the continent, travel between European countries became much easier, and checking passports at each border crossing became a logistical nightmare. France eliminated the use of passports in 1861, with several other countries following their lead.

However, the turmoil of World War I again made passports essential for international travel, and in 1920, the League of Nations created its first international passport standards. These included recommendations that countries adopt a 32-page booklet with photographic identification and written in at least two languages, which would remain valid for no less than two years. As technology improved, passports increasingly included watermarked paper, overprinted designs, laminated photos, and machine-readable bar codes or computer chips.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Ephemera Society of America

Ephemera Society of America

Great reference on ephemera... includes examples and descriptions of various ephemera categories, selected special … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Limoges France Peint Main Passport United States Of America Box 57/500Armenia Turkey 1919 Passport Cesarie Armenian Deportee Refugee Passage Mersine Original 1919 British Passport To United States With Extra Form228 Old British Passport 1958-63 Excellent ConditionVintage Canadian 1953 Expired Passport Historic InformationLithuania, 1937, Vintage Expired Travel Document - Many Visas & StampsStipula Fountain Pen Passport Breast Cancer Awareness PinkAlbania, 1925, Vintage Expired Travel Document - Many Visas & StampsYugoslavia, 1929, Vintage Expired Travel Document - Many Visas & StampsWw1 Wwi Judaica Lithuania Jewish German Travel Passport 1917 Judaika (b)Saudi Arabia Old Cancel Female Passport Poland, 1922, Vintage Expired Travel Document - Many Visas & StampsCzechoslovakia, 1949, Vintage Expired Travel Document - Many Visas & StampsPoland, 1963, Vintage Expired Travel Document - Many Visas & Stamps1960's Obsolete Britsh Passport - Basil Philip Waterlow ClapinSaudi Arabia Old Cancel Passport With Different RevenueSudan Old Canceled Passport Issue 1981Vintage Nos 1959-1960 Mopar Sales Rally Award Certificate W/ Id Card & Display Original Ww2 German Army K98 Ammo Pouch W/ Turkish Travel Document Inside-rare- Vintage -us Secret Service Agent George Hickey- Signed Usss Id Card - JfkExpo 67 Passport W Pavillion Stamps 1967 Montreal Canada Worlds Fair - 21 StampsUsa Ww2 War Department G.i Red Cross Id Card.C1913 Emigre Passport Silvio Pellegrini Citta Di Castello Italy To America PlusVintage Snoopy New York Passport Holder Hanging Pouch Unused & UnopenedVintage 1940's Passport - Grand Duche De LuxembourgWorld War Ii Us Navy Id CardOriginal Vintage International Truck Kb1 46-48 Fire Wall Id Card Tag Obsolete 1959 U.s. American Passport With Photo - European StampsVtg Johnston & Murphy Passport Men's Black&brown Italy Made Loafers Sz 10