Lovely Frozen Charlottes shards
Frozen Charlottes are a type of china doll popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The name came from Fair Charlotte, a well-known American folk ballad attributed to William Lorenzo Carter. It is believed to have been composed some time between 1833 and 1860. He was inspired to write the poem after reading in the New York Observer on Feb 8, 1840... "A young woman... was frozen to death while riding to a ball on Jan 1, 1840."
The ballad tells the tale of lovely mountain girl who set out in a sleigh with her lover, Charley, to attend a New Year’s dance. Her mother warned her to wrap herself in a blanket to keep warm, but Charlotte ignored her… “No, no, no, fair Charlotte said and she laughed like a gypsy queen. To ride in blankets muffled up, I never can be seen.” The lyrics then tell of Charley as they rode through the frozen night air… “Why sit you there like a monument that has no power to stir? He called her once, he called her twice, she uttered not a word....fair Charlotte was a stiffened corpse and her lips spoke nevermore.”
From my collection: Beautiful Charlotte part of the "Mary Merritt Doll Museum "auction.
Of course there was a lesson to be learned from this tragic tale, and many young girls who later played with Frozen Charlottes probably were warned:
Now, ladies, when you hear of this… Think of that dreadful sight, And never venture so thinly clad, On such a winter's night.
The dolls depicting Charlotte and Charley, were extremely popular and sold for only pennies this allowed children to accumulate a collection of dolls with which to play. The sad story of their tragedy only heightened the doll’s popularity.
Very detailed chubby Charlotte with molded bonnet.
Marks are almost nonexistent on these dolls, but the grounds of the Kister and the Conta Boehme factories in Thuringia, are filled with china shards from these dolls that date from the 1850s, and they range in size from under one inch to 18 inches plus.
What a harvest time it was during the visits of the “by-the-day” dressmaker, who came every spring and fall for a week or a fortnight to refurbish the family wardrobes!
How eagerly one watched for, and how gleefully seized upon any sizable scraps that fell from her shining scissors.
These dolls give one pause, and perhaps the answer is that the prudery of the Victorian era was invented for the young ladies, who lived in a world of chaste ignorance. But if one really searches into Victorian times, there was a good deal of nudity present:
In their works of art, the ornaments in the parlor and the china fairings gracing their cottage cupboards.