Frozen Charlotte is a name used to describe a specific form of china doll made from c. 1850 to c. 1920. The name comes from the American folk ballad Fair Charlotte, which tells of a young girl called Charlotte who refused to wrap up warmly to go on a sleigh ride and froze to death during the journey.
 DescriptionThe Frozen Charlotte doll is made in the form of a standing, naked figure moulded all in one piece. These dolls may also be seen described as pillar dolls, solid chinas or bathing babies. The dolls ranged in size from under an inch to 18 inches plus. The smallest dolls were sometimes used as charms in Christmas puddings. Smaller sizes were very popular for putting in doll's houses. Occasionally versions are seen with a glazed china front and an unglazed stoneware back. This enabled the doll to float on its back when placed in a bath.
bisque, and can come in white, pink-tinted, or, more rarely, painted black. Some rare examples have moulded chemises. Male dolls (identified by their boyish hairstyles) are called Frozen Charlies.
- Dolls Antonia Fraser, 1963, p. 62
- Coleman. Dorothy S., Elizabeth A. and Evelyn JK.; The Collector's Encyclopaedia of Dolls Volume One, (USA, 1978)
- Eaton, Faith; Dolls In Colour (London, 1975)
Also, see the Natalie Merchant song on her album Ophelia, and note that Frozen Charlotte is a type of dessert.
Penny dolls can also be wooden dolls of the type of dolls in Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwog by Florence K. Upton. These are the types of dolls Queen Victoria liked to dress. When I was young, penny dolls referred to all bisque, jointed at the arm or unjointed Japanese bisque dolls that represented different themes.
They could also refer to little German bisque versions. Penny toys are tin toys that cost a penny and were often mechanical. These dated from the 19th c.
I have read of all china, jointed Frozen Charlottes, but if they are jointed, then they technically are not Pillar or Frozen dolls. I have badekinder in sitting positions, in little tubs, and one rare esamle of a little boy astride a cigar that is also a whistle. A toy like this allegedly began the collection of noted author and collector, the late John Noble, once curator of the toy and doll collection of The Museum of the City of New York.
I have Charlotte dolls in wood, metal, china, wax, teracotta clay, comosition, and papier mache. Newer versions are made, so be ware. Some have molded clothes and fancy hairdoes. My mother used to make wardrobes for them, and I have seen others with entire ensembles. They are oftenused in doolls houses and as dolls' dolls. Fragments of them are sold on various auction sites and are made into jewerly and art dolls. I myself have one that lives in a watch case, and a barrette I made with a row of them. I do not wear it; I'm too afraid of losing my dolls!
Young Charlotte (Collected by Kenneth Peacock) with lyricsNow, Charlotte lived on the mountainside,
In a bleak and dreary spot;
There was no house for miles around,
Except her father's cot.
And yet on many a wintry night,
Young swains were gathered there;
For her father kept a social board,
And she was very fair.
One New Year's Eve as the sun went down,
Far looked her wishful eye
Out from the frosty window pane
As merry sleighs went by.
In a village fifteen miles away,
Was to be a ball that night;
And though the air was heavy and cold,
Her heart was warm and light.
How brightly beamed her laughing eye,
As a well-known voice was heard;
And driving up to the cottage door,
Her lover's sleigh appeared.
"O, daughter dear," her mother cried,
"This blanket 'round you fold;
It is a dreadful night tonight,
You'll catch your death of cold."
"O, nay! O, nay!" young Charlotte cried,
And she laughed like a gypsy queen;
"To ride in blankets muffled up,
I never would be seen.
"My silken cloak is quite enough,
You know 'tis lined throughout;
Besides I have my silken scarf,
To twine my neck about."
Her bonnet and her gloves were on,
She stepped into the sleigh;
Rode swiftly down the mountain side,
And o'er the hills away.
With muffled face and silent lips,
Five miles at length were passed;
When Charles with few and shivering words,
The silence broke at last.
"Such a dreadful night I never saw,
The reins I scarce can hold."
Fair Charlotte shivering faintly said,
"I am exceeding cold."
He cracked his whip, he urged his steed
Much faster than before;
And thus five other dreary miles
In silence were passed o'er.
Said Charles, "How fast the shivering ice
Is gathering on my brow."
And Charlotte still more faintly said,
"I'm growing warmer now."
So on they rode through frosty air
And glittering cold starlight,
Until at last the village lamps
And the ballroom came in sight.
They reached the door and Charles sprang out,
He reached his hand for her;
She sat there like a monument,
That has no power to stir.
He called her once, he called her twice,
She answered not a word;
He asked her for her hand again,
And still she never stirred.
He took her hand in his - O, God!
'Twas cold and hard as stone;
He tore the mantle from her face,
Cold stars upon it shone.
Then quickly to the glowing hall,
Her lifeless form he bore;
Fair Charlotte's eyes were closed in death,
Her voice was heard no more.
And there he sat down by her side,
While bitter tears did flow;
And cried, "My own, my charming bride,
You never more will know."
He twined his arms around her neck,
He kissed her marble brow;
His thoughts flew back to where she said,
"I'm growing warmer now."
He carried her back to the sleigh,
And with her he rode home;
And when he reached the cottage door,
O, how her parents mourned.
Her parents mourned for many a year,
And Charles wept in the gloom;
Till at last her lover died of grief,
And they both lie in one tomb.
####.... Said to be based on a true event recorded in an original poem by Maine humorist and editor Seba Smith [1792-1868] and set to music by William Lorenzo Carter. [Laws G17] Native American Balladry (G. Malcolm Laws, 1950/1964) ....####This variant was collected in 1958 from Charlotte Decker of Parson's Pond, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.735-737, by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
Kenneth Peacock noted that several attempts have been made to relate this American ballad to an actual event, all without real success. If Charlotte existed, however, we can be reasonably certain she lived somewhere in New England. What we do know is that part of the ballad appeared in The Rover in 1843 and was credited to Seba Smith, a well-known journalist of the period. It is not known whether he composed it himself or learned it from oral tradition. In any event, it has spread all over the continent and is especially popular in Newfoundland where it is sometimes called Frozen Charlotte.
The New York Observer reported on February 8, 1840, that a girl froze to death on her way to a ball on January 1, 1840.