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"Babenskaya" Matryoshka: Early Tourist Era Dolls

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The Babenskaya Artel's (Cooperative) origin goes back to 1911. It employed a slew of local artisans who specialized in the art of traditional lathe-polished toy manufacture. Even today it maintains an existence as The Babenskaya Toy Education Center, located in the Podolsky municipal district, south-west of Moscow. The famous master carver Vasily Zvezdochkin created the first matryoshka nesting doll here. 

The Babenskaya Factory was founded in 1963 and the doll here is dated November, 1965. The label on the bottom of the first doll in Russian identifies her as a "Conical Matryoshka 3-nest No. 1". She came from the Babenskaya Factory of Lathed and Polished Toys in Babenki, Moscow region, Lenin province, which is west of Moscow.
The wood looks to be birch and the dolls are simply and elegantly painted. The lathe work is fine. This is a very scarce doll from the early Soviet Union tourist era, when international travel into the USSR was tightly controlled. The label is only in Russian, which indicates that it was not made for export but sold in the country. 




 

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