• Soviet Visuals

Spending roubles in the USSR was in most cases a challenge rather than pleasure. Shortages of many staples, hour long lines, and the sale of scarce items from under the counter became the gloomy signs of the time. The exception were well-stocked hard currency shops, but the overwhelming majority of Soviet people had no access to them. On the other hand traditional bazaars offered good quality costing an arm and a leg.

Kitchen accessories department at a Soviet store, 1980s

Queue for "Greenpeace Breakthrough" record outside "Melodiya" record store, Moscow, USSR, 1989

"Sale of mushrooms on the Danilovsky collective farm market" Photo by B. Anthony Stewart, Moscow, 1959

"Queue" painting by Vasily Kolotev,1985

"It is impossible to walk around the city. Everyone asks where I got my glasses. - And where did you actually get them?" cartoon from "Krokodil" satirical magazine, 1953

Customers of "Beriozka" hard currency store. Photo by Boris Losin, Leningrad, USSR, 1965

Kamchatka crab stall in Magadan,1990

Happy visitor of a liquor store redeeming his ration coupons for vodka during the anti-alcohol campaign, 1980s

"Beriozka" hard currency store, Moscow, 1970s

Seller at Kuznechny food market. Photo by David Turnley, Leningrad, 1991

  • Soviet Visuals

Toys reflected the Soviet world in miniature. They captured the mind of kids at a very early age and continue to trigger feelings of nostalgia in many adults after the collapse of the USSR.

Kalashnikov toy assault rifle,1980s

Nevalyashka roly poly doll, 1950s

"Snow White" toy laundry set for girls, 1990

At a toy store, 1966

Space toys, 1960s

Remote control rocket launcher toy, 1970s

Boy with a toy car,1974

Mechanical 'bear with bottle' toy, 1950's

Wind up robot toy, 1980s

"Potato Toys” book cover, 1931

Cipollino doll, 1950s

"Little doctor" toy set, 1970s

"I want to be a cosmonaut," 1968

1960-1980s toys from collection of Sergei Romanov

Toy Store “Detsky Mir”, Dzerzhinsky Square, Moscow, 1983. Photo by Masha Ivashintsova

  • Soviet Visuals

Women in the Soviet Union formally had equal rights with men. The reality however sometimes looked a little different. Soviet propaganda glorified a woman-mother, a woman-worker and comrade-in arms.

Miss KGB contest winner Yekaterina Mayorova, 1990

Welder Raya Moldovan working at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station. Photo by Vsevolod Tarasevich, Ukrainian SSR, 1960s

People in a queue. Photo by Vladimir Vorobiev, Novokuznetsk, 1982

Fur hats ad from hard currency catalogue by Vneshposyltorg, 1967

Photo by Emmanuil Evzerikhin, Moscow, 1930s

Actress Dodo Chogovadze, still from "Aladdin and his Magic Lamp",1967

Moscow police lieutenant, criminal investigator Nina Demchenko at home. Photo by Yuri Abramochkin,1968

Novosibirsk ladies. Photo by Nathan Farb, 1977

Fashion model Tamara Vladimirtseva, 1969

Photo by Sergei Borisov,1989

Uzbek girl. Photo by Max Penson, 1930

Builder of Moscow metro,1930s