On October 29, 1999, I bought a U.S. Passport in an antique store
in New Braunfels, Comal County, Texas, USA for $25.00. It was issued to Myla
BAKER on June 19th, 1928.
It was the date that caught my attention more that anything else because it was
issued the same year that our Model A Ford
There is a lot of information in this little book, but I seem to come up with many
questions. Who was Myla BAKER? She is not related
Summer 2001 update: I asked a friend of mine if he could tell me
the countries visited and any thing else about the passport. He surprised me with
page by page notes and a report. Thank you, RW!
August 2002 update: I received an email from CK of Germany who translated
and explained many of the stamps plus cleared up an error or two in the translations.
Thank you too, CK!
October 2006 update: I received an email from PP saying the Gunter
Hotel "is still in existence on Houston Street and is currently owned by the Sheraton
Company." It does seem a bit odd that I never included this tidbit of information.
It is the Sheraton Gunter Hotel. So,
PP, thanks for pointing out this oversight.
Attention all prop masters for "Cabaret" and "Anything
Goes": After two emailed requests for the exact description of this 1928 U.S.
passport for a prop in a theatre production, I decided to include that
Myla Baker's 1928 U.S. Passport, #598602. The cover is very
stiff, like a hardback book, but much thinner. The passport is 6 inches by 3 3/4
inches by 1/8 inch thick. The color is a dark burgundy (Hex 330000 or so, if
that helps.) There is some obvious wear. The light colored area showing "No
598602" is actually a hole in the front cover, cut to show the number that is
inside. What is barely visible is a U.S. seal with an eagle. Under that is the
word "PASSPORT". Under that is "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in a smaller size so
that it is all on one line.
front cover - Again, here is the hole. Text and handwriting is black
ink. There are some differences in handwriting, but the top line (Myla Baker's
signature) and the bottom three lines look like a lighter color black ink than
the middle three lines. The paper is yellowed from age and it is unknown what
the original color might have been.
On the inside front cover, Ms. Baker listed her United States
address as Gunter Hotel, in San Antonio, Texas, and her foreign address as "American
Express Paris France." Under "In case of death or accident notify," she listed T.
B. Baker, also at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. T. B. Baker was Theadore Brasher
Baker, Myla Baker's brother.
Page 1 - This next page is page one, but it is not numbered. Here
is the passport number that shows through the front cover. The text
is in black ink. The top four handwritten lines look like they are
in pencil: "French, Austrian, Hungary, Czecho Slavonic" ???? Below
is the same U.S. seal as the front cover, only smaller. The other image
at the bottom of the page is the reverse of the embossed seal on page 2.
From RW: A woman named Myla Baker, born 17 Sep
1879, in Washington, Iowa, 5 foot 4 inches tall, brown hair and brown eyes, resided
in the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. Possibly her parents either owned or
operated that hotel. The Hotel Gunter was located at the corner of St. Mary's and
Houston Streets in downtown San Antonio. The hotel still exists but with a different
name. It was common, and still is, to list the American Express as a point of contact.
It is likely that she had no relatives in Europe. At the top on page 1, Myla wrote
"French, Austrian, Hungary, Czecho Slovakia". This may have been places where she
could speak the language since she wrote "French" and "Austrian" instead of "France"
and "Austria." She did not list German, which she most likely spoke and would need
Page 2 - Text and handwriting is black ink. The seal is not a separate
seal; it looks like part of the original printing of the page. It is
a fairly dark red (Hex 990000 or so.) The embossed seal is of the U.S.
eagle with "DEPARTMENT OF STATE" around the top and "UNITED STATES
OF AMERICA" around the bottom. The signature at the bottom looks like
a real signature, i.e., there are no marks around it that indicates
that it is a stamp. It is a heavy, dark black ink.
This page has some extremely interesting information in that Ms. Baker
is not accompanied by a spouse nor is she with minor children. A woman traveling
by herself? I like her already.
From RW: Myla probably was not married and had
no children. She was sufficiently wealthy enough to afford such a trip or maybe
her parents were.
Page 3 - Printed text is in black ink. The image at the bottom of
this page is the reverse of the embossed seal on page 4 and is not
readily visible - it just copied that way.
4 - The photo is 2 3/4 inches square. It is a real photo that
is attached to the page. Here again is the embossed seal. The signature
looks like she signed her name right on top of the photographic paper
in black ink. Ms. Baker's photograph shows her wearing a hat known as a cloche.
From RW: She probably was well educated and spoke
several languages. She was well-groomed and stylish. When Myla was 48 years old,
she applied for and was granted passport number 598602 by the U.S. State Department.
Page 5 - Text and handwriting is black ink.
6 - Essentially blank.
Page 7 - The only original text printed on this page (and the rest
of the pages until the end) is "Visas" and the page number - in black
ink. The handwriting is in black ink. The rest looks like it was made
by rubber stamps using black ink. There are two dates on this page: June
24, 1929 and June 25, 1929. I am not a language expert, but it looks like German
From CK: In German: "Nr._____ Gebuhr: _____ Dauer
(handwritten) Ein- und Wiederausreise Sichtvermerk für Myla Baker gut zur mehrmaligen
Einreise nach und Wiederausreise aus Deutschland über jede amtlich zugelassene Grenzstelle
über die Grenzstelle ---- Gültig für 1 Jahr vom Beginn des Tages nach dem ersten
Grenzubertritte, jedoch nicht über den 24.Juni 1939 hinaus. Reisezweck Besuch Galveston,
den 25.Juni 1929 Deutsches Konsulat" In English: "No. _____ Fee: _____" (That visa
was free (why ... ?)) "Dauer..." means "long-during", so it was an "multiple entry
visa" which is not short-term-valid. "Entry-and Exit-Visa for Myla Baker good for
multiple entry and re-exit from Germany at every official border checkpoint at the
checkpoint ..." (This option was not used.) "Valid for one year, starting with the
day after the first entry, but not over Jun 24th, 1939." So she could have used
the visa for ten years, but as she entered, it was valid for one year.
From RW: In 1929, she traveled to Galveston, Texas.
She proceeded to the German Consulate where she obtained a travel Visa dated 25
Jun 1929. She obtained a Visa from the British Consulate the same day. Shortly thereafter,
she traveled, either by train from San Antonio or by ship from Galveston, to New
York. She visited Consulates there and obtained Visas for Czechoslovakia, France,
Page 8 - The handwriting is in black ink. Most of the rest looks
like it was made by rubber stamps using black ink. The stamps that
look like postage stamps are a dark green on a white background. They
were originally separate stamps that have been attached. English: "British Consulate Galveston No. 469A June 25, 1929 Special
Transit Visa For the United Kingdom to Germany (signed) Acting British Consul"
From RW: The two green stamps indicate that she
paid for the Visa. She probably entered England at Plymouth on 13 Jul 1929. Myla
sailed then, most likely to England, where she remained for a couple of weeks, then
crossed the border into Holland, after obtaining a Visa at the border. That Visa
was valid for only eight days, after which, she went to Czechoslovakia.
Page 9 - The handwriting is in black ink. The rest looks like it
was made by rubber stamps using purple ink. (did the purple fade faster?) Most of the words stamped on this page
are faint. I can make out what looks like "do Republiky Caskoslovenske" and "VSTUPNI
VISUM" which is "Entry Visa" in Czech. Just below that are two dates. June is "cerven"
in Czech and July is "cervenec" so I guess one of these dates is "19 June 1930."
The stamp at the bottom has what looks like yet another date, ("31.VII.1929") but
what country used Roman numerals in a date?
From RW: I can't make out some of this page, but
it is a Visa from the Czech Consulate for which she paid one dollar. The Visa was
obtained in New York. She entered the country on 31 Jul 1929. It is not clear how
long she stayed in Czechoslovakia. There is no indication that she traveled in Germany
but it is almost certain that she did, at least on her way to Hungary, where she
visited a while. After leaving Hungary, Myla traveled, probably
through Germany again, as she had no Visa for Austria. She entered Switzerland at
St. Margrethen on 8 Aug 29.
From CK: Actually, the exit stamp is over the entry
stamp, the exit is July 31st, 1929, and the only one I can read from the entry stamp
is the number "28" upside down. So she probably entered Czechoslovakia on July 28th
and exited on the 31st. The town names which are at the bottom of the stamps are
10 - The only image looks like it was made by a rubber stamp using
purple ink. There are smears at the bottom from page 11. The other images are
just bleeding through from page 9. This page has a little purple stamp and there are missing letters.
It looks like "Uffisio P.S. Domedossola - 12 AGO 1929 - ???TRATA - ?PING."
From CK: "DOMODOSSOLA" is a northern Italian town
at the Swiss border. "Entrata" means "entry" in Italian. So she entered northern
Italy by train on 12 Aug 1929.
Page 11 - The handwriting is in black ink. The
rest of the images look like they were made with rubber stamps. The round one at
the top is black ink. The one at the bottom is a reddish purple ink. The rest in
the middle are a purple ink. This page clearly has the word "France"
twice, "Cherbourg" and two more dates: "JUL 1 - 1929" and 14 Sep 1929".
From RW: This is a travel Visa from the French
Consulate in New York, issued on 1 Jul 1929. While I can't make out the stamp at
the top of the page, it no doubt is a border crossing stamp. Myla departed Europe
by ship at Cherbourg, France on 14 Sep 1929. She then probably continued her travels
across Switzerland and Southern France to Spain, where she stayed a few days before
returning to France, to Cherbourg where she boarded a ship for her return trip to
the United States.
From CK: "VISA DE TRANSIT avec faculte de sejour
QUINZE JOURS a compter de l'entree en France. New York, le JUL 1, 1929" (Transit
visa with a possibility of stay for 15 days, counting upon entry of France. New
York, Jul, 1st, 1929) And the fee stamp of $ 1 point something below). In the upper
right corner, is a round stamp, with a date upside down: August, 26th, 1929. And
the city mentioned there is "Menton". That is a town at the Italian border, close
to Monaco and next to Ventemiglia (Italy) on the Riviera. (I have driven over that
border in '98, but there is no checkpoint anymore - that is unified Europe ... ;-)
12 - Almost everything on this page looks like it was made by rubber
stamps using purple ink. The square stamp in the middle that looks like a
postage stamp is red ink on a white background. It was originally a separate
stamp that has been attached. Some of the stamped words on this page are "Nederland" and "Doorlaatpost
From RW: Myla probably obtained this Visa at the
Netherlands border when she came there from England. Her entry was on 31 Jul 1929
and the Visa was good for eight days and unlimited crossings of the border. The
unlimited crossings was authorized by the red stamp.
From CK: On the upper half of page 12 is an Austrian
stamp. The red stamp is a visa as it says "Österreichische Sichtvermerk-Marke für
mehrmalige Einreise" (Austrian Visa Revenue stamp for multiple entry) and there
is the entry stamp "Oest. Grenz-krontrollstelle" (Austrian border checkpoint) with
the date 31 JUL 1929. The Dutch stamps (lower half of page 12) are from Roosendaal,
which is a city north of Antwerpen, at the Belgish-Dutch border. It is a transit
visa for eight days. The date on the stamp is not readable, but the first number
is a "1" and the second has a round top as in a 2, 3, 6, 8 or 9. The "J" of July
is visible. As she entered Britain on 13th, it would be later that week, to have
time for sightseeing in London. ;-)
From AL: Roosendaal is the border crossing with Belgium.
Even today (July 2009) if you take the train from the Netherlands to Antwerp,
Brussels or Paris, you cross the border at Roosendaal. The stamp appears to be a
transit visa of a period of 8 days including the date it was issued. The stamp
was probably given on the train station itself.
Page 13 - The handwriting is in black ink. The
rest of the images look like they were made with rubber stamps. The middle right
one is blue ink and the bottom right is orange ink. The rest of the images are
purple ink. One of the stamps clearly reads New York,
N. Y. and "Royal Hungarian Consulate General".
From RW: This is a travel Visa from the Hungarian
Consulate in New York, issued on 1 Jul 1929. She entered Hungary on 3 Aug 1929 and
departed the country on 5 Aug 1929.
From CK: She traveled through Austria on July 31st,
but not through Holland, as the Dutch stamp has a "1" as first number. Must be some
day in July, on her way through Holland to Germany, as the visa is just for traveling
though for a maximum of 8 days. As for the Hungarian visa and stamps
on page 13: She entered at Budapest on August 3rd and exited at Györ on August 5th.
The entry in St. Margrethen to Switzerland is a town between St. Gallen (Swiss)
and Bregenz (Austrian), very close to the Lake of Constance, so she came from Hungary
on 5th of August, probably by steamer on the Danube, which is a nice tourist trip,
even in the 21st century, but she could have used the train as well, and went on
through Austria in its whole east-west stretch to Switzerland.
14 - One rubber stamp image in purple ink. The stamp on this page is very readable, even if not crystal clear:
"SCHWEIZ" "E - 8 AUG 29", and "ST. MARGRETHEN".
From RW: Myla had no Visa for entry into Switzerland,
but she obviously did cross into Switzerland at St. Margrethen on 8 Aug 1929.
From CK: There are there no German entry and exit
stamps in an American passport of the 1920's? This seems very unusual. Plus, it
would have made the time line so much easier to recreate.
Page 15 - The handwriting is in black ink. The
rest looks like it was made by rubber stamps using blue ink. One of the stamps says "CONSOLADO GENERAL DE ESPANA EN LOS ESTADOS
UNIDOS - NUEVA YORK". The date is "2 de Julio 1929". Apparently the stamp on page
14 was not allowed to dry and is smeared on this page.
From RW: She was issued a travel Visa by the Spanish
Consulate in New York on 2 Jul 1929.
Pages 16 through 31 are blank.
32 - The one image looks like it was made by rubber stamp using purple
ink. The mark through it and across the page looks like a blue pencil. The date of the stamp looks like 26 or 28 "AGO" 1929. Probably August.
From RW: I can't make out what this is from the
writing, but it is most surely a border crossing stamp.
Inside back cover - Printed text is in black ink.