Monday, April 11, 2016

Frozen Charlotte Dolls - How Adorable But Tragic

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How can you not fall in love with a bunch of "GERMAN 'FROZEN CHARLOTTE' DOLLS"as shown in the picture above from the website. You can't especially when you find out they have a tragic story attached to them.

According to their description: 7" H. tub. Seven dolls, representing little children with chubby stomachs, are of one-piece porcelain or bisque, standing with their arms outstretched with curled fingers. Each doll has painted hair and facial features, two with painted shoes. Included is a German tin tub and shower with unusual copper hot water tank and receptacle hidden at back allowing the "shower" to actually work. Excellent condition except some paint flakes on tub platform. The dolls are notable for complete variation of hairstyles and facial painting. Circa 1880.

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Frozen Charlotte 1850-1920 

I saw this adorable "Frozen Charlotte" doll, as shown in the picture above, on The Strong National Museum of  Play  and instantly fell in love with her, too. How could you not? Just look at how cute she is

Doll - 1850-1920, Material porcelain | cloth, Origin Germany, Style Frozen Charlotte, Object ID 78.9067

According the museum description:  An unjointed china doll molded in one piece, a Frozen Charlotte became a popular doll type in the 1850s. Initially sold as bathing dolls or naked babies, these floatable figures supposedly entertained youngsters of the Victorian era as they took their baths. The dolls sold in sizes ranging from one inch to 18 inches. Labeling these figures "Frozen Charlotte" recalls a 19th-century ballad about a vain girl who refused to cover up her pretty party dress while riding to a ball on a frigid winter's night. Of course, the girl of the story dies from the cold: "Fair Charlotte was a stiffened corpse/ And her lips spake no more"; and her demise reminds us to forsake vanity and use a little common sense. The smaller Frozen Charlottes were called penny dolls and popular with children with small coins to spend. Some English families hid small Frozen Charlottes in their Christmas puddings, along with or in place of the traditional hidden coins.

How can any adorable little dolls have a tragic story attached to them?  I had to know more. Here's what I found out:

There is a boy version of the Frozen Charlotte Doll - Frozen Charlie, both involved in the reasons for Frozen Charlotte's tragic history.

According to The Ultimate Doll Book by Caroline Goodfellow: In  the United States Glazed China Dolls were called Frozen Charlottes.  In Britain the larger Glazed China Dolls were called Bath Dolls.  At Christmas, the smaller ones were often hidden inside plum puddings as good-luck charms, earning them the name Pudding Dolls.

The cover shown above is from a wonderful .PDF article on the Academia website all about Frozen Charlotte.  It's well worth the read if you're curious as to the history of Frozen Charlotte and the Victorian Era.

According to the Academia website article "Still She Never Stirred" Frozen Charlotte Dolls of the Victorian Era by Elizabeth Fernadez Many popular children’s toys were made during the Victorian era and a small all-ceramic doll called Frozen Charlotte was one of them. The first of these “immobile” dolls were made as early as 1850, into the 1860s, gained popularity in the 1870s, and remained in production up until the 1920s (King 1977; Tagger 2007). The original design is thought to be German in origin,  but it was so popular that many companies began making them, most notably in France and America. Also called bathing dolls, pillar dolls, or solid china dolls (Lavitt 1983), the name Frozen Charlotte came from an American Folk Ballad called “Young Charlotte” (or “Fair Charlotte”) which had been based off of a poem about the true story of girl who had frozen to death in the snow (Lord 1966).

Also: The dolls were made in a two-piece mold with the arms molded to the sides or across the chest, with some versions having bent elbows or legs molded into seated positions. Other dolls have molded and glazed decorations, such as bonnets, ribbons, shoes, and colored hair (Herlocher 2006; King 1977; Lavitt 1983) and some smaller figures even had molded clothing which was considered more rare than the undressed figures (Figure 4).

According to Elizabeth's article the Frozen Charlotte dolls were used in the Victorian Era for many reasons: to nurture the children as in educational play, as a bath toy, as part of a doll collection or decoration for the home, setting into cakes as party favors, used in doll houses, placed in teacups to cool the tea, and for children's play.

Image Courtesy of A Whimsical Flea Market

The picture above of all the Frozen Charlottes is from the "Broken But Loved" post on the "A Whimsical Flea Market" blog by Mandy.

Don't they look adorable all lined up in a row?

According to Mandy's post: The name Frozen Charlotte came from an American Folk Ballad, Fair Charlotte which was attributed to William Lorenzo Carter. The song was inspired by a poem, Young Charlotte written by Seba Smith after he read a true story in the New York Observer...."A young woman...was frozen to death while riding to a ball on Jan 1, 1840."

Poor Charlotte froze to death in a snowstorm while riding to a ball. Poor Charlotte. Poor Charlie.

If you'd like to read the Frozen Charlotte story and "Young Charlotte" poem by Seba Smith please Click Here for the "Frozen Charlotte Story" post on the "A Whimsical Flea Market" blog.

If you'd like to learn more about the "Young Charlotte" ballad by William Lorenzo Carter and story please Click Here for the sampler on the University of Maine website.

The following is from the "Frozen Charlotte: The Tragic Toy For Girls and Boys" post on the website: Made of white porcelain, glazed on one side, and often given dark hair and eyes, the dolls were often tiny enough to fit inside jewelry or a box small enough for a child’s hand. More importantly to the children that wanted them, there were very inexpensive. The normal cost of a penny meant that many children and families could afford them adding to their immense popularity. Parents were in favor of the dolls for a major reason, the story of the girl meeting her death due to her disobedience to her mother gave a crystal clear message that all children should obey and listen to their parents. Boys were not excluded from the toys or their cautions with male figures being given the name Charlie, the name of the young man in the poem who escorted Charlotte on her last ride. The lesson of listening to one’s parents was strongly reinforced by the accessories that soon became attached to the little dolls such as their own blankets and metal caskets carved with words of warning.

Can you imagine giving a doll in a coffin to a child?

Nowadays the Frozen Charlottes are sought out by mixed media and altered art artists as objects to be included in their various designs from mixed media and altered art creations to jewelry, pendants, shadow box creations, etc.

Here's some more Frozen Charlottes I found:

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Doll - 1850-1920, Manufacturer A. W. Fr. Kister, Material porcelain | cloth, Origin Germany, Style Frozen Charlotte, Object ID 78.9069

I just love this little Frozen Charlotte and her purple dress.

There are more "Frozen Charlottes" on The Strong National Museum of Play website.  I hope you get a chance to check them out.

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The "Frozen Charlotte" GERMAN PORCELAIN BATHING DOLL IN UNUSUAL BEADED COSTUME, shown in the picture above, is from the website.  I just love her beaded costume.  Very unusual, indeed.

According to her description: 5" One piece porcelain figure of standing child with legs apart,arms held in front of body, sculpted black hair in pageboy fashion,painted facial features,tiny blue eyes,red and black eyeliner, accented nostrils, eye brows,closed mouth with tiny pertly shaped mouth. Condition: generally excellent. Comments: Germany, circa 1880. Value Points: the so-called "Frozen Charlotte" wears his original beaded costume with fitted jacket, blue trousers, colorful collar and cuffs, brown shoes.

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I found the FIVE GERMAN MINIATURE DOLLS circa 1890, shown in the picture above, on the website.

According to their description: 3.5"  - 5 1/2". Including four all-porcelain dolls known as Frozen Charlotte, one with unusual bobbed hair, one with modeled chemise, one black with lustre-painted chemise; along with a black bisque shoulder head doll with painted features, black sculpted hair, original muslin body, painted orange boots, and with original multi-layered costume. Condition: generally excellent. Comments: Germany, circa 1890. Value Points: rare variations of porcelain babies, and fine all-original black dollhouse lady.

Image Courtesy of Theriaults

There was a wonderful family of GERMAN PORCELAIN LADY DOLL WITH FAMILY OF "FROZEN CHARLOTTE BABIES", shown in the picture above, on the website.  How adorable are all of those "Frozen Charlottes?"  Wouldn't you just love to have this collection of dolls?

According to their description: 10" Porcelain shoulder head lady with black sculpted curls,painted blue upper glancing eyes,closed mouth,muslin stitch-jointed body,porcelain lower limbs,antique costume and apron. Condition: generally excellent,one tiny doll missing arm. Comments: Germany,circa 1880. Value Points: included is a collection of 20 all-porcelain babies known as "Frozen Charlottes in sizes ranging from 1"-5".

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There are a lot of Frozen Charottes for sale on the website.  I loved the GERMAN ALL-PORCELAIN BATHING DOLL IN CHIMNEY SWEEP COSTUME, shown in the picture above.  How adorable is he?  From the expression on his face you would think he's saying, "That's it! No more chimneys!"

According to their description: 7"  One piece all-porcelain baby posed standing with legs apart and arms held in front of body with closed fists,pink tinted facial complexion,black painted hair with stippled curls at forehead,painted facial features with brown eyes. Condition: generally excellent. Comments: Germany,circa 1885. Value Points: the rare-sized doll,a so-called "Frozen Charlotte",is wearing its original black knit Chimney Sweep uniform with hood and carrying a wooden handled brush.

I found a most unusual Frozen Charlotte Squeak Toy with Jointed Arms on the Skinner Inc. Auction website

Despite the tragic tale associated with Frozen Charlotte I still think the dolls are adorable. How about you?

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