A porcelain doll and a travelling soldier: stories of toys from Moscow museums

June 9
Culture

Some toys exhibited at Moscow Museums once belonged to famous people. Dolls, teddy bears and tin soldiers tell us the secrets of their former owners. Read about the fate of these toys in a collaborative article by mos.ru and Mosgortur Agency.

Andrei Bely's tin soldier

Playing with tin soldiers was Andrei Bely's favourite pastime as a child. There were shelves with mini infantry regiments in Borya Bugaev's (it was his real name) room.

"There is a wall instead of the golden brown world: a whatnot (that very same one!) with a formation of soldiers; my tin grenadiers’ silver faces shine...'' the poet recalls his boy’s passion in his 'Kotik Letaev' autobiographical novel.

Only one infantryman from that huge collection of soldiers had survived. Andrei Bely found it accidentally when unpacking his deceased mother's belongings, and decided to keep it as the memory of his childhood. After the poet's death, his widow Klavdiya Bugaeva handed over his belongings to the literary critic Nikolai Bogoslovsky.

"This tin soldier is the last of once large Boris' collections," the note attached to the memorable items said.

In the 1980's, Bogoslovsky's son sent a bag with Bely's belongings to France with a tin soldier inside. It came back only in 2010, to the Andrei Bely's Memorial Apartment.

Alexander Pushkin's grandchildren's doll

The State Pushkin Museum displays Lyubochka, a porcelain doll. Once she was a favourite toy in the family of Alexander Pushkin's eldest son.

We don't know exactly how the doll appeared in that house, as there is no any information available. The only thing we know is that the toy's face was painted by Sofia, wife of Pushkin's son, as she was a talented artist. After her death, the doll went to her son Sergei, who was under 1 at that time.

The poet's descendants had kept the porcelain Lyubochka until the writer's great-grandson Georgy Galin donated it to the Museum in 1998.

Natalya Surkova's teddy bear

During the Great Patriotic War, the poet Alexei Surkov served as a special correspondent of Krasnaya Zvezda. His wife Sofia and daughter Natasha had been evacuated and lived in Chistopol (Tatarstan).

An ordinary teddy bear was the girl's best friend in a difficult period of her life. She kept it by her side almost all the time. The girl told it about her fears and how she missed her father. In 2009, during celebration of the 110th anniversary of Surkov's birth, Natalya donated the bear to the Moscow Defence Museum.

We should mention that Chistopol was a haven for the Soviet Union's literary elite during the war, with Alexander Tvardovsky, Konstantin Paustovsky, Boris Pasternak, Alexander Fadeev and others residing in this town.

Boris Kreutzer's toy sketches

The GULAG History Museum has sketches of toys the artist Boris Kreutzer drew in the forced labour camp. There is no information whether the toys created after these sketches were put into mass production.

The year 1937 saw Stalin's repressions in full swing. Boris who earned a living by drawing film posters was summoned for questioning. He was asked about his relatives living abroad, foreigners he communicated with. After a long investigation, he was accused of spying for Japan. Then the investigator decided that the surname 'Kreutzer' seemed to be a German one, and therefore, the artist must have spied for Germany as well. And Boris was sentenced to death.

However, he miraculously avoided the death penalty: there was a discrepancy in the documents — the Ethnic Nationality field indicated German, although Kreutzer was a Jew. The sentence was cancelled, but the artist was sent to a forced labour camp, where he had to develop sketches of 'funny, witty and bright turning toys'.

Kreutzer was released in 1946 but detained three years later under the same article once again. He was released ten years later and rehabilitated in 1956.

Yura and Nyura soft toys

In 2017, two soft toys Yura and Nyura, the characters of the Roscosmos television studio's cartoon, flew into space together with the cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin. A year later, they were donated to the Museum of Cosmonautics.

Taking children's toys on a flight is a tradition that astronauts have been following for a long time. In addition, they can also be used as a weightlessness indicator. For more than fifty years of human space flights history, a variety of toys have visited the orbit, from a wicker poodle to a robot. On 14 March 2019, the cosmonauts' ranks were joined by a dachshund and a falcon, which went to the orbit as part of the next expedition to the ISS.

Source: mos.ru

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