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.