I don't know about you, but I had always thought that the Russian nesting doll (Matryoshka doll) was an ancient toy dating back to pre-industrial times. In getting educated about them, however, I discovered that they date back to a specific date and a specific creator.
It was in 1890 that Vasily Zvyozdochkin (pictured left), a doll maker and craftsperson, created the first Matryoshka doll. There is not much information about Zvyozdochki available in the English language research engines I checked. In that he is the creator of a significant type of toy, it would be nice if one of our readers can tell us more about him.
The name, Matryoshka, has its origins in the Latin, "mater", which means mother. The reason for this was that Zvyozdochkin's original consisted of a mother with a series of ever smaller children (see top image), all nested inside with the smallest being an infant.
Since that time there have been any number of variations including those that depict anything from the Romanov Czars to robots.
Here are some variations that I find interesting and attractive.
The Czars (including the largest, Peter The Great)
Robots (We love robots at Global Toy News)
Family, circa 1900