With the opening of Russia in 1990, the art of Russian lacquer miniature painting has gained worldwide appreciation and these small treasures are highly sought after by collectors. As a result, many Russian boxes are now being produced by untrained people using inferior materials such as wood, poured acrylic, or pressed sawdust-board called argalite. These imitation lacquer miniatures are being sold on the streets of Russia and through venues like eBay. Many of these fakes have the name of one of the four villages and even the name of a well known artist added to fool the uneducated buyer. Educating yourself about the art and buying from reputable dealers will ensure that any purchase you make will be of high quality.
Authentic Russian lacquer boxes, from the four traditional villages that produce them, should be painted by traditional techniques on a papier-mâché base. The papier-mâché process, which takes an average of six weeks, ensures the most stable medium - it will not warp, does not expand and contract with temperature, and has a linseed oil base which renders it impervious to moisture.