Russian letter to UMC- help needed

The 2nd Quarter 2020 Remington Collectors’ Journal included the photo below with the a note:
“This tattered envelope holds no contents, but calls out to be investigated. What appears to be Russian language begs to be translated. Unfortunately the postal cancellations cannot be clearly read, so we canot tell what year it was franked. Evidently it was addressed to the man whose name is on the lower left. We wold welcome anyone who could translate this envelope.”


Lower left says “В Америку” which is “To America”, it is not a name but a call for the post office to separate it to foreign mail since the address is written in English and Russian mail people before 1914 probably were not fluent in English.
The name and address of the person who’s sent this letter is in the upper left.

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I imagine that a stamp collector/forum could narrow down the period based on the stamps.

I’d guess at sender’s name as Фёдор Яковлевич Ричесь.
Тучков переулок is the name of the street, it still exist in Saint PetersburgТучков_переулок
11 is the house number.
B.O. is most likely Vasilyostrovsky region of the city.

The stamps look like Russian stamps for Finland;
stamps of Finland
From the net:
"## Stamps of Finland

Definitives of 1891-1916

The definitive stamps of Finland, issued between 1875 and 1892, would soon disappear, and, beginning in 1891, they would be replaced by Russian stamps! The “philatelic” Russification of Finland had begun! Of course, the Finnish people would refer to this period as the " sortokaudet" or the “times of oppression” .

In the years following the accession of Czar Alexander III to the Imperial Throne of Russia, a policy to make the Grand Duchy of Finland a more integrated part of the Russian Empire was implemented. Of course, the goal of this policy was to terminate Finland’s autonomy.

The assimilation of Finland into the Russian Empire did not succeed. About sixteen years after the first Russian Imperial stamps were issued for Finland, the Russian Empire would be GONE , and the Grand Duchy of Finland would become a parliamentary republic !"

I found 2 Russian stamps, without the design on the 4 corners, but no date.

Remington-UMC 7.62x54mmR crate, WW1 contract with Russia.
Photo from the internet.


I think old Finnish stamps were always in markka and penni. The stamps on the letter are in kopecks, standard Russian currency.

B.O. means “Vasilyevsky Island”, one of city districts.
St.Petersburg archives from 1896 lists someone F. Ya. Riches as a British citizen, who was a shareholder in certain businnes enterprise in St.Petersburg.

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Thanks, Max, it makes sense now. He probably was a middle man since he could speak both languages. Now if only we could have the letter itself…A lot of stuff is vanishing forever. My friend in Moscow walked by an old building being demolished a couple of years ago. The workers were dumping a lot of documents and books into a dumpster. He took some WWI photos but the rest went up in smoke.

John, I am sure forensic labs can read it with different lightning that uses a special light specturm. Means only the cancellation will become visible (optically isolated) and not the other colors.
The then used light source can be trimmed in a way where it will match some properties of the ink and then only the ink will reflect the light. Basically an optical discriminator.
Maybe you have the chance to ask somebody? Maybe also a university that is into optics?

Interesting envelope. You can clearly see the date “05” (1905) over the top right stamp.


There was a Franz Yakovlevich Riches listed as a 57’ class officer. During 1905 he was the representative of New York Shipbuilding Corporation.



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To follow up with EOD’s suggestion a common UV light in a darkened room might be of use?

Pete, I just tried UV minutes before my posting, the ink will not change there. Just newer postal stamps will light up pink-purplish (sure for optical recognition in automated mail processing machinery).

My aged mother is a keen stamp collector, her local collecting club has a couple of specialists, one of whom is a nationally recognised expert in faked cancellations on envelopes … a rare cancellation can make an ordinary postage-stamp into something very special … maybe see if your local philatilists can help out, most love to talk about their hobby …

… a warning as well as a recommendation.


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That UV didn’t work with the ink you tried doesn’t mean it will not work on other inks?

To the little I know: no.
But maybe some expert in “light spectrum” could literally enlighten us?

Unfortunately, the image here is a scan of a printed page in the Remington Journal, and I think that it came from a scan or photo of the original in the Remington archives, so we are several steps away being able to do much with UV or inks.

New York Shipbuilding was active in 1905 (assuming that is the date of cancellation), but not with any apparent connection to Russian contracts. This was around the time of the Russo-Japanese War, and the U.S. brokered Treaty of Portsmouth which ended it, unfavorably for the Russians. NYSB was building U.S. warships at the time, and perhaps this may have been related to seeking to piggy back on some of their contracts/contacts within UMC for an order for arms or munitions for Russian military (shipbuilding?) activity taking place in Russia. All this is entirely speculation on scant evidence.

Thank you ALL who has shed so much light from not very much to work with!

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I am not sure what additional information you expect if you had the original envelope.
Max has verified in documents that around the turn of the century a British subject F. Ya. Riches (as shown on the envelope in cyrillic letters) indeed lived in St. Petersburg, as we call it. Fede added to this the first and paternal name Franz Yakovlewitch and confirmed the time frame.
In my experience, foreigners like him (German/Austrian/Swiss origin and British citizenship) did all types of commercial transactions and I would not assume New York Shipbuildung had any significance in his dealings with UMC Bridgeport.

UMC did manufacture shells other than the commonly known small bore. Including 1 inch and larger, which are not commonly seen.

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