Mostly in-letters from V I Ragosine and Company, Moscow, with copy outgoing 'flimsies' from Nov 1905. Most in French, some in German, some printed documents in Russian, some in English. Dated in both Russian and English style. The earlier letters are numbered by the Moscow office in what appear to be general and company file series, e.g. No.990/No.69, No.1016/No.70. Later correspondence in a single sequence (gaps presumably represent letters to other correspondents).
The following description is based on an analysis by Deborah Jenkins.
The correspondence relates mostly to orders for various types of oils and tars, and to the payment for and transport of these orders. Additional documentation includes administrative documents, noted in the list below. A wealth of detail of more general interest emerges from these letters, which may be indicated under the following headings (original document numbers cited):
Commercial practice: complaint from Moscow about the slowness of sales (1884:65); preparations for commercial exhibitions in London (1885:80), Liverpool (1886:15) and Manchester (1887:238); attempted fraud by outside company (1885: 40, 44, 47); agencies in France (1889:68); damaged goods (1891:137 and 1897:390); transit and insurance arrangements (1897:466); certificates attesting use of oil by British War Ministry (1891:146).
Transport: deliveries were usually confined to summer months when the Navigation was passable (e.g. 1885:78, 82); railways were sometimes used (1884:69), but it remained true that the canal was cheaper than rail (1890:144); transport became cheaper with the introduction of the tank-waggon (1891:185) and of the 'Tank-Steamer' (1895:235); in the early days, Hull and London were the commonest destination of the steamers, but later they were unloaded at Swansea, Newcastle and Glasgow as well. Oak and poplar barrels were used, the former being stronger but more expensive.
Technical developments: both the oils and the tars were refined to customers' specifications; thus the inflammability level of oils became of particular relevance for certain uses (1894:6, 1903:13), while, with the introduction of refrigeration, the freezing point of others also became important; in many cases the Russian factory was asked to submit samples for analysis in England; disagreements about the quality of the samples were settled by the use of monitoring devices such as the 'Redwood viscometer', which the Russian company bought in 1904 (1904:197); the term 'oleonaptha', which by 1893 was in common use in the trade, had originally been a Ragosine trade name (1893:91).
Political events: responsibility for insurance in case of war and the price of oils during war were discussed in 1885 (1885:1,4); war is again mentioned in 1904, when the possibility of a Russian export tax is noted (1904:163); the Baku disorders of 1905 disrupted production at the factory (1905:115), and in 1906 the London company recorded its deep sympathy for the unfortunate events which occurred in Moscow ('note bien profonde sympathie pour les malheurs survenus a votre ville' (1905 , 5 Jan).
Miscellanea: comments about staff changes, heavy rains (1890:96), hot summers (1897:390), good crops (1905:372) and other matters affecting the production or delivery of the merchandise aboard.