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    Catherine the Great Letter Signed "Catherine." One page with integral blank, 7.75" x 12.25", in Russian, St. Petersburg, December 21, 1788. The empress places her illustrious signature to a letter to Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin regarding payment to carpenters. The letter reads, in full:

    "We order you to be informed that 15,000 rubles are needed for payment of wages to carpenters in the Kherson admiralty in the month of January next year, 1789, to be paid with paper money from St. Petersburg Exchequer, Account of Remaining Sums, and for this purpose we order you to issue a written order authorizing receipt and disposition of this money."

    Catherine II of Russia (1729 - 1796) is often referred to as the epitome of the "enlightened despot". She reigned as empress of Russia from June 28, 1762, until her death. Catherine married the Grand Duke Peter of Russia in 1745, but the marriage proved unsuccessful - due in part to the grand duke's impotence and mental immaturity. In July 1762, the Leib Guard revolted, deposed Peter, who was now emperor, and proclaimed Catherine the ruler of Russia.

    Prince Grigory Potemkin, named governor-general of Russia's southern regions in 1774, established the city of Kherson (in modern Ukraine) in 1778 to house his proposed Black Sea Fleet. The fleet was founded in 1783 and remains in existence today. He was a favorite of the empress and helped bring her to the throne. In 1774, the two became lovers and carried on an affair that lasted two years (though it is alleged that they married in secret). Though they separated, they remained close friends for the rest of their lives.

    Beautifully written, Catherine's bold signature is ever so slightly faded. One smoothed, vertical fold. Light toning of the edges.

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    April, 2013
    11th Thursday
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