FROZEN CHARLOTTE

This is a repost from July, 2012. With the holiday weekend and my company, I failed to get a new post up. Enjoy!

Last time I told you about visiting the Arabia Steamboat Museum. During the tour I was enchanted by one tiny item. Not gold or diamonds or beautiful venetian glass. Discovered wrapped in wool and tucked at the bottom of a carpenter’s tool box was a porcelain or china doll only three inches tall – a Frozen Charlotte.

Manufactured from 1950-1920, the Frozen Charlotte dolls ranged in size from less than 1” to more than 18”. The one found on the Arabia had painted bonnet strings in a color similar to the garters to the left.

If your grandmother had a bathing baby doll in a little porcelain tub—that’s a type of Frozen Charlotte.

The doll was named for a popular American Folk Ballad, Fair Charlotte, which tells of a young girl (Charlotte) who froze to death on a sleigh ride because she refused to dress warmly. The Frozen Charlotte appeared as everything from a charm in a Christmas Pudding to the inhabitant of a doll house to the pampered favorite possession of many little girls.

Since our visit to the museum, I think of the Frozen Charlotte on the Arabia at odd moments. Who was it meant for? Was a hard-working carpenter who’d been earning money back East bringing a gift for his daughter in St. Joseph? Or perhaps a litle girl had wrapped her favorite doll in a bit of wool blanket and hid it at the bottom of her daddy’s tool box as a momento, a reminder that she was waiting for him at home.

 

Tracy Garrett
History, Texas, cowboys, horses—these are a few of Tracy’s favorite things. Check out her westerns at www.TracyGarrett.com.

3 Comments

  1. “Fair Charlotte” sounds like it was cut from the same cloth as Grimm’s fairy tales. I suppose there’s a long and honorable tradition of scaring children to death in order to convince them to behave. 😀

    Thanks for this interesting post, Tracy!

    1. I hadn’t considered that, Kathleen, but I think you’re onto something there. Thanks.

  2. Oh, Kathleen might have something there. I enjoyed the article. I’ve seen these dolls but didn’t know the story. Thanks, Tracy.

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