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August 21, 2020

In 1916, the Duchy Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Issued This Lovely Passport to a Young Woman Pictured With Her Dog

This passport issued from the Duchy Saxe Coburg-Gotha in 1916 is one of the very rare types within the German Empire. It features a photo of a young woman with her beloved dog.

Clearly, in these days there were no rules about passport photos, so you could take any photograph as long it was fitting on a passport page. Passport pictures were introduced in Germany on January 1, 1915.

Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was an Ernestine, Thuringian duchy ruled by a branch of the House of Wettin, consisting of territories in the present-day states of Thuringia and Bavaria in Germany. It lasted from 1826 to 1918. The name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha also refers to the family of the ruling House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which played many varied roles in the dynastic and political history of Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Did this young woman travel exclusively with her pup? Where did they go? What did they see? We may never know...

Tom Topol is a passport collector who began his collection after leafing through some old passports at a flea market in Kyoto, Japan. His collection now contains more than 700 passports, and is still growing.
“Old passports are ‘art works,’ as I describe it. Why? Because no passport looks the same at that time, as they were issued manually and not automatically like today. Back then you had beautiful hand-writing, colorful boarder stamps and the passport picture was always a highlight,” Topol told “Today you are not even allowed to smile on your picture. In the U.S., you are now not even allowed to wear your eye glasses.”
The collector focuses on German passports. But history’s wars, shifting boarders and evolving political systems have left behind passports from places that are now known by different names. He has spent last decade and a half learning everything he can about the politics and geography of historical passports, as well as digging int.

(Photos ©


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