The Romanov family with Kaiser Wilhelm, first cousin of both Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra, who gifted these dolls to the little grand duchesses.

From the diary of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna:

 “In the house where there are children, all the surroundings and everything that is going on around them will affect them. Even the smallest detail can have either a wonderful or a harmful effect. Even the nature around them can shape their future character. All the fine things seen by the children’s eyes are imprinted in their sensitive hearts “

Grand Duchess Olga and Grand Duchess Maria Romanov with their dolls.
Grand Duchess Olga and Grand Duchess Maria Romanov with their dolls.

The types of educational principles that guided Tsar Nicholas II and Tsaritsa Alexandra can even be seen in the kinds of toys that their children: Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, played with.

The Romanov  children were given toys only on holidays or special occasions. The rest of the time they played creative games: for example they had different cardboard sets for learning languages, geography, history, etc.


The Romanov children played with this lotto with portraits of all the Russian tsars to learn the history of the Romanov dynasty.



The Romanov children played this travel game in order to learn the geography of Russia
Table paper theater for the play “Life for the Tsar” based on the Glinka opera, one of the favorite operas of the Romanov family. The imperial children loved to put on this miniature play for the rest of the family.
Tsarevich Alexei loved his Guignol puppet theater. This theater was only recently identified as belonging to the Romanov family.


Chess set which belonged to the Romanov family.


Domino set which belonged to the Romanov family


This game set called “Christ Has Risen!” was given to “His Imperial Highness, the Heir Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich”





























When the imperial children got older, games were supplemented by embroidery, and when the grand duchesses were still very small they were all taught to sew, knit, and make dresses for their dolls and handmade gifts.  Alexandra Feodorovna thought that even small girls should be busy with something all the time, and be able to make clothes for their dolls, including national costumes of the various people from all over the Russian empire.


Doll which belonged to one of the grand duchesses in a dress sewed by hand.


Each little grand duchess had her own sewing kit which she used to make clothes for her dolls. The imperial children were raised to appreciate all nationalities of their vast Russian empire and their dolls wore various costumes representing each one.

Doll which belonged to one of the grand duchesses.


Doll and teddy bear which belonged to one of the grand duchesses.
Doll which belonged to one of the grand duchesses in a national costume of Ossetia.























The imperial children had a toy tower and a big music box based on Russian fairy tales: everything was tied into some Russian tradition.  It was meant to teach the children that one cannot lead the nation without having a deep understanding of its cultural and spiritual values.

Music/jewelry box that belonged to the Romanov children

 The Romanov sisters had a large collection of dolls from England, France, Germany and Russia, their most favorite were the German porcelain dolls with eyes that closed and natural hair. These beauties were dressed in fancy dresses made of batiste and satin decorated with lace.  These dolls that belonged to the Grand Duchesses were simply breathtaking – with their numerous elegant dresses, hats, skirts, purses and accessories.


Doll which belonged to one of the grand duchesses.
This German doll was made at the turn of 20th century.









Empress Alexandra often took part in the games with her children, she taught the girls how to properly dress their little porcelain charges and take care of them and their clothes.


Toys which belonged to the Romanov grand duchesse on the original carpet from the lilac boudoir of Tsarina Alexandra.
Doll that belonged to one of the Romanov sisters
Doll that belonged to one of the Romanov sisters


Every day at tea time, the little grand duchesses came down from the playroom in their white dresses, to their mother’s Lilac boudoir, and played with their toys on the special carpet there.



Doll that belonged to one of the Romanov sisters
“Tsaritsa” doll. France, 1880’s.


Doll which belonged to Tsarevich Aelxei, dressed in the uniform of the Semyonovsky regiment. Germany, 1910.



Porcelain sailor doll which belonged to Tsarevich Alexei. Turn of the 20th century.


This toy soldier guarded the door to the playroom of the Romanov children.











Rocking horse which belonged to the Romanov children









Dolls that belonged to the Romanov sisters




Dolls that belonged to the Romanov sisters

Grand Duchess Olga and Grand Duchess Maria Romanov with their dolls.


Grand Duchess Olga, Tatiana and Maria Romanov.



Toy railroad with train, which belonged to Tsarevich Alexei.



Toy railroad with train, which belonged to Tsarevich Alexei.



Toy railroad with train, which belonged to Tsarevich Alexei.


Toy railroad with train, which belonged to Tsarevich Alexei.


The playroom of Tsarevich Alexei at the Alexander Palace, the main Tsarskoe Selo residence of the Romanov family.



Little tin soldiers which belonged to Tsarevich Alexei





“Indians” game brought for Tsarevich Alexei from London.



Russian knight made out of wood, belonged to the Romanov children


Tricycle which belonged to Tsarevich Alexei.
Dolls which belonged to the Romanov sisters.






















Read here about Project Happy Dolls at Tsarskoe Selo



  1. Fascinating article. How we’re the children set up for doll houses? Some of the dolls featured seem to be shown in a doll house setting.


  2. Hi, I’m 57yrs old and German … and my Greatgrandmother’s (who was a seamstress of dollclothes in Sonneberg herself) father was a dollmaker in Sonneberg and his father was a “woodworker” which in those long by-gone days in Sonneberg pretty much meant, that he carved those fair, delikate wooden dolls like the one shown in your article with the white, handsewn dress. It is no surprize, that the German cousin Wilhelm gave the little, royal girls their favorite dolls (with outfits) … the men and women of Sonneberg (and Seiffen, were the other side of my family comes from) Germany, were and still are Masters of their craft, true artist in Toy-making! My maidenname can be, to this day, found on quality Toys from Sonneberg Germany and surrounding areas and I too have the talent and love for dolls and toys in my blood and I’m proud of it 🙂 .


    1. What a wonderful family history you have, and carry in your knowledge, Beate. All of us who love the work from the toy making regions of Germany would be so grateful to learn more. Have you considered writing a book? I am a figure carver and a dollmaker myself , so naturally I am keenly interested, but I find that all of my doll and dollhouse loving friends are, as are the people on my antique Christmas ornament group. Although Lauscha is the region glass ornaments come from, there are many wooden toys that were hung on trees and given as gifts that get no mention in the books, and collectors are eager to hear about them. And then there are the toy collectors, so as you can see, there is good potential for interest in what you have to tell.

      I have a noteworthy family history too, and am in the process of recieving and reading 100’s of letters and journals written by my ancestors. I am struck by how much important information in these journals has never been written in history books, and how much will be lost if I don’t make an effort to get these papers published. This is true of your family history too. People no longer work with their hands, so there are few people to learn from!~ Also. although we have good venues now (online shops) for artists to sell their wares, we no longer remember or understand how cooperative cottage industries worked. What little I know about that is fascinating – and helpful to me as an artist, but I, and I know thousands, if not millions of others would love to know more. Perhaps taking on the large job or writing a book doesn’t appeal to you, but you might be willing to contribute your knowledge – there are some superb authors of similar subjects and I am certain people would be grateful for that as well. Sadly, those of us who knew best are gone, and that leaves those of use who did not ‘do’ but saw and heard, to pass what we know down to generations who know only the modern world. I have seen, in the exited eyes of the children I do carving demonstrations for, how rare this is and how hungry they are. Many times, I have had first graders tell me they had no idea humans make things.

      Please contact me if you have any interest in discussing this further. I would love to hear anything you have to share.


  3. nice article, I remember when I was a children and play with this dolls, I have a good memories at this time.


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