Welcome to Passport Land
Collecting old passports
This website displays my collection of old passports, each with
passport page images, biography, ancestry, genealogy and family
Old passport collecting is a growing hobby for those interested in
ephemera, travel, stamps, family history and genealogy.
I started with my own passport, collecting airport and border crossing
passport stamps, during my extensive travels. Passport Land has an alphabetical list
(sorted by surname) of my collection of over 500 passports, and a list of the passports of famous people
- those notable enough to have their own page on Wikipedia.
Why collect old passports?
Each passport is a unique document, giving an insight
into the past and someone's life. Today, most overseas travel
is for holiday and leisure; yet in the past, migration was often the
only occasion when someone would ever leave their country of birth.
Later, they might return "home" and visit friends and family. As well
as the passport photo, passports can contain home and foreign
addresses, full and maiden names of the passport holder and family
members, and even the names of their ancestors.
If you have ever been interested in history, travel,
genealogy, stamp collecting or postal history, old passport collecting
might appeal to you.
Family history and genealogy
passports are important to people researching their family history
and genealogy - I wish I had more passports for my
you have any interest in any of the people or passports,
or if you can provide any additonal information or corrections, then please do
get in touch via the contact
the majority of so-called signed memorabilia offered for sale have faked or
facsimile signatures - this is never the case with a passport
holder's signature. However, at least for US and UK passports, the
the Secretary of State (US) or Foreign Secretary (UK), even as early as
the 1860s, will be a printed facsimile. From 1877-1909, the US issued
369,844 passports, an average of 11,500 a year, and it would clearly
have been impractical for one person to sign them by hand. In 2007, the
US issued 18.4 million passports. Only in very exceptional cases,
on some official/diplomatic passports, will there be a hand signed
Forged or tampered with (for example, to change the photo) passports do
exist, but they are rare. For
famous people, passports are perhaps the
only documents where there can be no doubt as to the authenticity of
Passports of the future
Biometric passports with an embedded microchip containing personal data
are already standard in the European Union and many developed
countries. These will become more widespread. It is also possible that
due to concerns about privacy and protecting personal electronic data,
such passports might have to be returned to be scrapped once
out-of-date and obsolete. Not good news for passport collectors!
In recent decades, the real cost of air travel has fallen dramatically,
making it accessible to most people in the wealthier countries. Alas,
it has lost most of its charm. Even worse, many border crossing posts,
especially those within the European Union, have disappeared, with a
corresponding fall in the opportunities to have one's passport stamped.
This trend will continue globally.
As technology improves and costs fall, and if security concerns can be
addressed, inked passport stamps and visas may slowly disappear,
one day leaving us with just a laminated identity card with an embedded
RFID chip. Hopefully, there will still be a role for ink and paper, as
a back up for when technology fails, a quick visual control check, and
for poorer countries and out of the way border crossings. Eventually,
such a microchip might be physically implanted in the human
body - this is already being done with animals - but the balance
between security benefits and incursions into personal liberty and
privacy would need to be very carefully considered.