3725796b Baron Othon De Richter Autograph Min

A Russian Admiral in New Jersey: From Epaulettes to Overalls and Back Again

Baron Othon de Richter (c.1870–?) was a career officer in the Imperial Russian Navy. At the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, then Rear-Admiral de Richter was in Washington, D.C. on a special mission. He soon found himself a man without a country and without a job.

Baron de Richter moved to Philadelphia and soon found employment as a rigger at the Camden, New Jersey shipyard of the New York Shipping Company. After six months, however, he received a summons from the counter-revolutionary government in Omsk, Russia to return to duty at Vladivostok to fight the Bolsheviks.


Baron de Richter’s autographed card seen here is signed “Lieut. O. Richter, Imp. Russian Navy.” It is possible that he signed this card in Philadelphia—twenty years before his forced exile from Russia.

De Richter graduated from the Russian naval academy at Petrograd (St. Petersburg) in 1880. In 1899, he visited the United States to inspect the armaments for the cruiser Variag which was then under construction in Philadelphia for the Russian government.

Accompanying de Richter’s autograph is a newspaper clipping describing his 1917–1919 sojourn in Washington and Philadelphia and two printed calling cards. Each of these additional cards are from Imperial Russian Navy officers, one identified as being on the cruiser Variag. Perhaps Lieutenant de Richter signed this rare autograph during this first visit to Philadelphia? Four items in all.

What We Are Talking About —Lieut. O. Richter [Baron Othon de Richter, Imperial Russian Navy, later Rear-Admiral (c.1870–?)]. [Autograph of Baron Othon de Richter, Imperial Russian Navy commander, trapped in the United States at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution]. C.1899? Autographed Card. Approx. 2 x 3½ inches. Heavy card stock; with hole punch at top edge not affecting signature. Accompanied by two printed calling cards of two other Imperial Russian Navy officers and a newspaper clipping from the Evening Bulletin (Philadelphia, April 19, 1919) about the Baron’s sojourn in America. Some toning to cards; very good with bold signature. [3725796]

Ref. “Russian Rear Admiral Who Worked Here as Ship Rigger Regains Old Rank” within Speed-Up, the official weekly of the Newark New Jersey Ship Yard (New Jersey, week of July 12, 1919), p10.


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