Saturday, July 26, 2014

Your papers please

As a creative and designer I have always loved passports, passport stamps and the design of official state documentation. I am in the midst of renewing my Swiss passport, so finding two early 19th century passports that belonged to my great-great-great-grandfather, Albert de Büren was very timely.

I loved finding and examining these treasures. Everything about them interests me, the design of the document, the stamps and the handwriting of each individual. In looking at each stamp, I am transported to these European locales, and I start to ponder: What was my ancestor thinking at the time? How was he treated by the official who signed his pass? What uniform did the official wear? Where was the document stamped, etc., etc.


The first document is a Prussian passport from Albert's 1813 journey to Breslau (now in Western Poland) and Vienna.

Passport front

Passport front detail

Stamp from Breslau

Stamp from Vienna as well as the Swiss consulate in Vienna

Return route stamp from Munich

Return route stamp from Zürich



The second document is a Neuchâtel passport from Albert's 1818 journey to Nice which was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia at the time.

Passport front

Passport detail – Coat of Arms

Passport detail – Physical characteristics

Albert's signature

Passport underside

Stamp of the French legation to Switzerland

Stamp of the Sardinian legation to Switzerland

Stamp of the Swiss consulate in Marseille

Stamps from Nizza (Nice)

Return stamp from Lyon

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