What is a monkeybox?

When I was a little girl, we had a pet monkey named Amanda. My Dad worked in the produce business, so each night he brought home that days culls in a big box - spotty cucumbers, pithy apples, limp celery, moldy oranges and the like. We called it a monkeybox. It was really just trash, but my Mom would take each piece of fruit and trim it, pare it and cut it up to make a beautiful fruit platter for Amanda. Even though it was deemed trash by one, it still had life left in it and was good for the purpose we needed it. That's how I live my life - thrifting, yard saling, looking for another's trash to be my treasure.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Accidental Collection: Nesting Dolls

Back when I had an Office Job, once a year, my "Boss" would decide to clean out his office.  He would send me out to the Warehouse to fetch a huge empty trash can and bring it into his office.  He would then proceed to "clean his office" by taking all of his desk drawers out and dumping them into the trash can - no sorting, no separating...just dump and it was done.  Papers, pens, pencils, whatnots, etc. - it just all went straight into the trashcan.   It was then my job to drag the trash can back out to the warehouse for the janitor to dump.  But, what he didn't know was that I would drag that can into my office and proceed to take everything out and sort it out.  I'd put all the pens in the supply drawer, the usable things in our company store and sneak his kids photos and artwork back into his desk in a week or so.  See, I've always been a junker.
The first year I sorted it out, I discovered a small set of Russian Nesting Dolls in his "trash" and I was smitten.  I don't really know why he had then, but I really couldn't understand how he could just throw them away! Since then, I have found many more sets at thrift stores and yard sales.  My Mom has given me several as gifts too.  I have a set of owls in my Halloween decorations, many Santa's and a set of bunnies in the Easter stuff too.  I have more than I even realized!
Some of my sets aren't complete - but since I pick them up for about 25¢, that's okay.
Love these four little ladies.
I like the baby on this set.
These are made of very lightweight wood and handpainted.  Different from the others.
These are the ones I found in the Bosses drawers.  I mean DESK drawers, of course.  Get your mind out of the gutter!  :D
 Another partial set.  Still cute, though.
 I think these are my favorites.  They are very intricately hand painted. 
 Now, some of the newer ones - A Nativity (I need to put this with the Christmas stuff!)
 Native Americans.  Love the little papoose.
 Monkeys.  'Nough said.
 Dolphin, Walrus, Otter, Penguin baby Penguin.
 Lizards, turtles and snakes emerging from eggs. 

As with most of the  things I won, I never set out to actively collect Nesting Dolls.  But, I seem to have a pretty good collection. 


  1. Those are really cute! I have a set that are Winnie the Pooh and friends that I found in a thrift shop and I just love. Oh and I love how you went thorough your bosses junk drawers!

  2. When my kids were each born we started a collection for them.They get one special item for their collection each Christmas.For my son it was Steiff animals.For my daughter it was nesting dolls or as we call them "Voila le bebe"s.Long story but it stems from the first one I purchased at a Christmas Market in France and the way the seller showed them to me.Kids find that easier to say than Matryshuka (or however it is actually spelled).Interestingly as my kids have gotten older their collections have morphed into their own creation.My son now does Nutcrakers instead of Steiff and my daughter prefers the Japanese Kokeshi dolls.She will happily receive the Voila le bebe as well though!And man oh man have we found some amazing pieces to add to their collections at thrift stores and yard sales.A GW in Miami had a Steinbach Nutcracker for my son.This past summer I found a Kokeshi in its original box at a yard sale.This is why we junk.This is why...

  3. What is it about Matryushka dolls that makes them so darn adorable? My mom has a little collection too. I saw Matryushka doll stuff all over in London--it's a very popular motif there, like owls and birds are here. Love it! I wouldn't be surprised if we don't start seeing more here too soon, since the US seems to get its trends a little bit after UK/Europe.

  4. I think some collections just find you. You wake up one day and discover you've been collecting something without realizing it.

    I've got a set of jockey Pat Day nesting dolls. I'm waiting until Derby time to put them in my booth.

  5. Of course, I think the otter is the cutest! Actually, they are all very nice. Accidental collections can be lots of fun, I have a couple of them myself.

  6. They are fun, but not something I see too often... of course I'm sure now I will see them everywhere 8-)!!

  7. Love them! I have a small collection myself including a set I found at the flea market that are stamped Made in the USSR. Those are my favorites. I also have a set a traded a nice lady in Russia for, she wanted a doll I had in my Etsy shop so instead of selling it to her we bartered and she sent me a lovely little set of Matryoshka. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Theresa in St. Louis12:04 PM

    Thanks for sharing your collection, Shara! My collection of these is not so "accidental" as my two sons are adopted from Russia. We started a collection for each of them when we were in Russia. You would love the huge Izmailovo flea market in eastern Moscow. Amazing bargains on huge sets of the dolls. I filled up every inch of free space to bring things home. Lucky that was in the 90s when they didn't care about overweight luggage so much. I still pick up a few here and there at thrifts/GW. I especially love the simple ones that were made back in the USSR days.

  9. I had to smile when I started reading this post, because I knew exactly where you were going with it! I would have gone through that trash can too. I'll never understand how someone can throw perfectly good stuff in the trash. Great collection of nesting dolls! Are you ready for garage sale season to start? Thrifting has been so incredibly horrible here. Can't wait for Spring!

  10. You should have seen the ones in Russia. One stall sold only different football, basketball, hockey, baseball teams (American teams). I got my cousin a WVU set for Christmas and a neighbor a Pittsburgh Steelers set. You know, I've never seen these at garage sales. I love them, though! I bought a few of the cheaper sets in Russia (in the $10 range) for gifts for friends. The sports ones were in the $30 range.


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