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babuska stacking dolls

Has anyone been in Russia recently and can tell me what the going price is for the stacking dolls?
We will be visiting the Hermitage and the surrounding area.
From other forums it sounds like US dollars, Euros are excepted, but I read it was illegal in Russia to use anything but Rubles.

Thank you

Posted by
3458 posts

Using ATM's to withdraw rubles was simple , no different than cash withdrawals anywhere else . The conversion is simple - The price in rubles divided by six gives you the dollar amount within a small amount - 420 py6 ( rubles ) = $7.20

Posted by
3458 posts

Sorry for that , I just use six and drop the zero for convenience ( or the last digit ) .

Posted by
21709 posts

The going price is just about anything. Depends on the size, the number of dolls, whether made in China or Russia, etc. so it is what you are willing to pay.

Posted by
1598 posts

Sorry. I bought mine in 1969. One set from the Barioska shop (I think that was what it was called, hard currency shop for tourists only) and another from a street vendor.

Posted by
1202 posts

When I was in Moscow they seemed to be everywhere so shop around and haggle.

Posted by
7205 posts

If you want to purchase the nesting dolls and other souvenirs at very good prices then go the market at Ismailova:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g298484-d300378-Reviews-Izmailovsky_Market-Moscow_Central_Russia.html

Better yet, take a day trip to Sergiev Posad to see the stunning monastery. Just outside the gates are wooden stalls built for vendors who sell the nesting dolls and other very nice things for a fraction of the cost of Moscow.

http://www.stsl.ru/

Posted by
6 posts

Matryoshki (nesting dolls) are pretty much just made for tourists these days ...in all my years living there I never once met any Russians who owned any for personal enjoyment. Therefore, it'll be hard to find a truly good deal, and anyway, as they're tourist items, it's crazy cheap to make them (sorry - not hand made with love by old ladies in a village) and whatever you end up paying will be too much. So don't worry about it too much.)) Expect to pay between 500 and 5000 for most size ranges you'd want to take home. They can more if you want larger sizes or more intricate designs. Other than matryoshki, if you want an authentic Russian souvenir, I suggest going to a little "produkty" (convenience store in the first story of most buildings) and buying a pack of Belomorkanal cigarettes. It's an old soviet brand still produced today (just don't ever smoke them!!!).

Posted by
6 posts

*Sorry - my price range of 500-5000 was rubles, not dollars )))

Posted by
430 posts

Yes, that is a good estimate.
As to "dirt cheap to make" aspect of it - well, it's only true to a certain extent.
You will notice that the dolls will fall into three main categories - the traditional touristy ones (sets of five to seven, sometimes rather poorly painted and featuring basic Zhostovo/Gzhel/Dymkovo patterns ), the "novelty" sets (e.g. nesting football or baseball teams, often with typos, sometimes outdated, and invariably crudely painted), and the "artsy" type, intricately designed and typically larger, with sets of 10 or more.

Years ago, I had a set of 12, with each doll "wearing" an apron with a Russian fairytale scene painted in the style of Ivan Bilibin's illustrations, and I can easily see a single person spending at least a month painting it, full-time.

The cheapest kind (basic design, 2 to 3 colors, no "gold" or "silver" paint, up to 7 pieces) actually makes a great gift for a 1-to-3yo kid.

An unpainted set of dummies (plus maybe an album of traditional designs or a sample matryoshka to copy) is also a great gift for an older child.

And, of course, stick to using rubles - any prices in other currencies are likely to be a shameless ripoff.

Posted by
14891 posts

When I was in St Petersburg (about 6 years ago), I paid for some things with cash dollars, some things by credit card and some things in rubles. Some places only took rubles, taxis quoted prices in dollars. So did some souvenir stalls. I don't remember it being illegal to pay in dollars, but I did know that it was against the law to take rubles out of Russia, so I bought a couple cheap souvenirs with my remaining rubles.

Posted by
400 posts

you can get them in Grand Forks, British Columbia, either mass produced or hand made, in any and all sizes. Strong Russian community. From what I can recall, the mass produced ones were quite inexpensive. I was surprised to also find them in Riquewihr, France.

Posted by
8 posts

I was in Russia for a few years starting from 2004 - St. Petersburg mostly. I don't recall it ever being illegal to take Rubles out of the country (as I did it every time I went home ...it's almost impossible to completely empty your wallet of all Rubles as you're on your way out), but it's possible I just didn't know about the rule and it was one of those difficult to enforce ones. I suspect if true, it's intended to stop people taking huge sums out of the country. In any event, I'd look into that before worrying about it. As for other currency issues, even back then, you mostly heard dollar amounts given by taxis only at the airport or other big tourist destinations - they did it because they figured you didn't know the conversion rate and they wanted you to feel comfortable with them (despite the fact they were completely ripping you off). By the time I left Russia, I never heard of anyone paying for anything in dollars - again, it's entirely possible that in the most touristy of places they'd accept anything (money is money, after all), but if you ever plan on buying anything other than a souvenir t-shirt, stacking doll or soviet-looking furry hat, you should expect to pay in Rubles, definitely. And cards are getting pretty ubiquitous too, so have cash, but don't fret if you run out.

Posted by
430 posts

Just to clear up the legal side of things a bit - under current customs regulations, you can bring any amount in any currency (if you bring in more than 10,000 in dollar equivalent, you will have to declare it). You can take out any amount in any currency (including rubles) as long as it is equal to or less than the amount you originally declared (or, again, up to $10k).

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you all for your great experiences, really helpful. I just ordered a few hundred rubles from the bank, just so I have have some available.
I am interested in the difference between the tourist dolls and the real thing. How can you tell the difference? other than the blatantly obvious "Made in China"?

Posted by
6 posts

I'm assuming by "a few hundred rubles," you meant a few hundred "dollars" worth of rubles, right? Not to be a pain, but I just wanted to be sure you're aware of the exchange rate. A few hundred rubles could amount to less than 10$.

As for the quality of nesting dolls, I also don't want you to worry too much about it, as it's not worth it. Imagine if someone came to New York and said, I want to know the difference between the Empire State Building statuettes meant for tourists and the "real" statuettes. A New Yorker would probably laugh at that. There are cheap ones and expensive ones, but no one buys statuettes of buildings other than tourists, just like most modern Russian families don't buy nesting dolls for their kids any more ...they buy the same things you buy in Toys R Us. We're not talking about Faberge eggs here, that need to be certified real, or something like that. All of the nesting dolls you see in stalls around monasteries, churches, town centers, kremlins, museums, etc. will be there specifically for tourists. Whether they're made super fast and cheap, or with hours of careful painting work put in, they're there for tourists, not for modern Russian families, I assure you.

The thing you should really remember is that this means NONE of dolls you'll come across will be "fake." They are all, in fact, "real" nesting dolls in the traditional Slavic style - they just won't have been made 100 years ago. )) That having been said - the BEST way you can be sure it's worth your money is to just look and decide on the quality for yourself. You'll see a range of prices and designs anywhere you go, from small Donald Trump dolls to large ornate "traditional" khokhloma style (the red, black, gold flowery swirls) ones. If you decide you'd feel comfortable spending money on it, then it's "real" and "worth it." But you'll never get a certified nesting doll anywhere, as there is no such thing, as far as I'm aware, as an official nesting doll manufacturer, just as there's no such thing as an official NYC statuette manufacturer you should be telling your foreign friends about.

If price is the most important factor, lots of people here have given great tips on where to find good deals. The rule of thumb is always: the further away from the tourist center you go, the better the price will be. But the eternal follow-up question is: is it better to pay the extra $20 by the Kremlin and save yourself the hassle of searching, or is it better to save yourself the money and put in more boots-to-the-ground time?

Either way, I hope that puts your mind to rest a little. You'll have a great time and happy matryoshka hunting!!!! ))))))

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you Jenn and everyone.
Yes, I meant rubles not $USD.
All information, good to know. I am planning on a fabulous trip and will report back to how it went.