Private Stash: Santa Matryoshkas

Christmas decor in our house is sparse. For one, I’m a lazy decorator. Plus, almost any and all Christmas decor, whether it be ornaments, creepy elves or ephemera is usually tossed up in the air to Tammy or Austin, whichever is closest, because they love it. There’s nary a time when something Christmas-related we find is abandoned.

I have managed to start a few very small collections. One collection is my Santa matryoshkas, or commonly called nesting dolls.

Matryoshka Santas set of 5

Matryoshka Santas set of 6

I don’t think either is very old, but both are 1970s are earlier.

I’ve found a couple tricks to deciding if the matryoshka in your hand is at least vintage or not: check out the eyelashes. No eyelashes? Great. Vintage. A few eyelashes at the corners? Still vintage, although not as old. Crazy eyelashes like those on a Bratz doll? Not vintage. Also, does your matryoshka have a yellowish-lacquer? Probably vintage. While neither of these are definitive factors, all of my matryoshkas (9!) hold fast to these two rules. I have vintage matryoshkas mixed with modern matryoshkas and I’m not sure how I feel about the co-mingling.

If you want to really search for value in your matryoshkas, there are a few additional things to look for. The most common numbers of dolls inside a set is three, then five, then seven. Find a set in between these numbers and you’re on your way. Another thing to look for is the size. Most matryoshkas are six inches, so a very small or very large set will also increase the value. And a Russian artist’s signature ups the ante even more.

When I’m looking for the next addition to my set, I look for uniqueness, condition, and simply if I like them. Santa #1 was purchased at an estate sale and I thought they were cute with their little decorated Christmas trees.

Santa #2 sold me with his three-dimensional beard. So festive!

Matryoshka Santa Beard

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