Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Frozen Charlotte






Frozen Charlottes are a type of unjointed 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. The ballad tells the tale of a beautiful young woman who set out in a sleigh with her lover, Charles, on a bitterly cold night to attend a ball fifteen miles away. Her mother warned her to wrap herself in a blanket to keep warm, but:


"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 couple rode off into the cold and, after traveling a mere five miles, Charles remarked:


"Such a night as this I never knew,
The reins I scarce can hold."
Fair Charlotte said in a feeble voice
"I am exceeding cold."
Away they ride through frozen air
In the glittering starry night
Until at length the village inn
and the ballroom were in sight.
They reached the door,
Young Charles stepped out
And held his hand to her
"Why sit you there like a monument
that hath no power to stir?"
He called her once,
he called her twice
She uttered not a word
He held his hand to her again
And still she never stirred
Then swiftly through the lighted room
Her lifeless form he bore
Fair Charlotte was a stiffened corpse
And word spoke nevermore.


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.

Most Frozen Charlottes ranged in height from one to four inches. The one-inch-sized dolls were commonly known as "penny dolls" because they generally sold for one cent. The popularity of Frozen Charlottes can be attributed, in part, to the fact that their relatively low price allowed children to accumulate a collection of dolls with which to play.




3 comments:

Sonia ;) said...

wow...very interesting...love history

smiles

Jeanne said...

Interesting tale. I learned something. Thanks!

~Wendy~ said...

I am keeping my eye out for one of these for my own collection

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