This Soviet era trade catalog for toys was intended for non-Russian audiences, and was produced by the Raznoexport Company in Moscow. This firm sold all sorts of consumer goods of Russian manufacture for export; the text is in English and French. Textiles, rugs, tobacco, bicycles, cut glass, and building materials among other goods were marketed to tourists and the West to dispel the notion of the USSR as a heavy industrial manufacturing nation.
Inflatable toys: cosmonauts, clowns and rocket ships.
The catalog features inflatable and mechanical toys, rubber and celluloid, papier-mâché and wooden toys. What caught my eye amidst the pages of traditional folksy dolls, clowns, animals and other figures, were the toys that put you into outer space! The space race between the USSR and US was on, and children of the 1950s and 60s enjoyed TV shows, books and toys that were very much down to Earth, as well as the idea of Outer Space as both a fantasy and a growing reality. The mechanical model of the Sputnik, the first Russian space satellite; the half globe toy of the Earth with a Rocket ship flying around it, are testaments to the pioneering accomplishments in Soviet space flight. The inflatable toy cosmonauts impress upon children Russia’s success in putting the first man into outer space. Yuri Gagarin, a Russian Soviet pilot and cosmonaut completed an orbit of the Earth on 12 April, 1961. (The United States sent its first astronaut into space one month later.)
Elizabeth Broman is a Reference Librarian at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library.