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To survive, you must tell stories…(“,)

Frozen Charlotte, the dolls from victorian-era that rest in coffins and were baked into cakes.

6 min read

There are a huge differeces between today’s dolls and antique dolls, that can be rather creepy. In fact, in the past, dolls were definitely less “reassuring”, and some of them did not appear, to children of the time, so terrifying as they may seem today.
But antique dolls kept in coffins or baked in puddings and cakes for young children are definitely creepy. “Frozen Charlotte” is probably the most disturbing little doll of all, a very small ceramic model that was delivered inside a coffin.
Yes! Really a casket….

But what is the origin of all this creepyness? Well, if we back through time, children were given a little pottery doll to play with. This doll was made from one piece of unglazed porcelain with no moveable parts, totally white, naked, with only the slightest coloring on hair, cheeks, lips and eyes and ranged in size from under an inch to 18 inches plus. Not exactly a smartphone, videogames or tablet like today.
The doll was originally producted in Germany in 1850 and sold like the perfect playmate for baby’s bathtime. In fact this versions are made with a glazed front and an unglazed stoneware back, enabled the doll to float on its back when placed in a bath.
However, it soon became associated with a popular poem, “Young Charlotte” written by humorist Seba Smith in 1840, and according to the experts, Smith’s composition was based on an incident that really occurred. The poem tells the sad true story of a girl who had frozen to death one New Year’s Eve while out riding with her boyfriend in an open sleigh, on the way that would take both to the city dance. This poor unfortunate girl had failed to heed her mother’s advice, and according to the poem, with this words:

“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.”

In fact, Charlotte refused to wrap up warmly to go on a sleigh ride because she did not want to cover up her pretty dress, and she froze to death during the journey.
And after this events, what had been producted as a German harmless bath toy soon became known in America like “Frozen Charlotte.”
In America, right where the poem was born, the dolls did cost only a penny and became quickly (and insanely) popular. Some being sold with their coffin and blanket-cum-shroud.
In Great Britain these dolls were often baked into a pudding or cake as a creepy surprise for children to discover, or probably for break the teeth of who did not know the custom, especially at Christmastime. Frozen Charlotte dolls are collectible still today, and if you want buy one of this, it’s possible found in physical flea-markets or also on Ebay, where prices range from very few euros to hundreds for the original 800 versions and in perfect condition. Most were made in Germany and America, and can come in white, pink-tinted, or, few, painted black. Existed also rarely male dolls (identified by their boyish hairstyles), called Frozen Charlies.

Smith’s poem inspired also the folk song “Fair Charlotte”, or “Young Charlotte”, an old ballad native to North America. It has been a popular ballad all over North America from Newfoundland to South Dakota, and widely studied. This is the (macabre) lyric:

1.Young Charlotte lived by the mountainside,
In a lonely, dreary spot;
No other dwelling for three miles round,
Except her father’s cot.
And yet on many a winter’s eve,
Young swains would gather there,
For her father kept a social abode,
And she was very fair
2.Her father liked to see her dressed,
Just like some city belle;
She was the only child he had,
He loved his daughter well.
Her hair was black as raven’s wings,
Her skin was lily fair,
And her teeth were like the pearls of white,
None with her could compare
3.At a village just sixteen miles off,
There’s a merry ball tonight,
Although the air is freezing cold,
Her heart is warm and light.
And there she watched with an anxious look,
‘Til a well-known voice she heard,
And driving up to the cottage door,
Young Charles in his sleigh appeared.
4.The mother to her daughter said,
“These blankets round you fold;
For it is a dreadful night, you know,
You’ll catch your death of cold.”
“Oh, no! Oh, no!” the darling cried,
She laughed like a gypsy queen,
“For to ride in blankets muffled up,
I never could be seen.”
5.”My silken cloak, it’s quite enough –
You know it’s lined throughout.
Besides I have a silk mantle,
To tie my face about.”
The gloves and bonnet being on,
They jumped into the sleigh,
And away they did ride o’er the mountainside
And the hills so far away.
6.There is music in the sounds of bells,
As over the hills they go;
What a creaking wake the runners make,
As they bite the frozen snow.
And away they then go silently,
‘Til five cold miles were passed,
And Charles with these few frozen words,
The silence broke at last.
7.”Such a night as this I never knew,
My lines I scarce can hold.”
With a trembling voice young Charlotte cried,
“I am exceeding cold.”
He cracked the whip, he urged his steed
Much faster than before,
Until at last five other cold miles,
In silence they rode o’er.
8.”How very fast the freezing air
Is gathering on my brow.”
With a trembling voice young Charlotte cried,
“I’m growing warmer now.”
And away they did ride o’er the mountainside,
And through the pale star light,
Until the village inn they reached,
And the ballroom hove in sight.
9.When they reached the inn, young Charles jumped out,
And gave his hand to her,
“Why sit you there like a monument,
And have no power to stir?”
He called her once, he called her twice,
She answered not a word;
He called all for her hand again,
But still she never stirred.
10.He stripped the mantle off her brow,
And the pale stars on her shone,
And quickly into the lighted hall,
Her helpless form was born.
They tried all within their power,
Her life for to restore,
But Charlotte was a frozen corpse,
And is never to speak more.
11.He threw himself down by her side,
And the bitter tears did flow,
He said, “My dear and intended bride,
You never more shall know.”
He threw his arms around her neck,
He kissed her marble brow,
And his thoughts went back to the place where she said,
“I am growing warmer now.”
12.They bore her out into the sleigh,
And Charles with her rode home,
And when they reached the cottage door,
Oh, how her parents mourned!
They mourned the loss of their daughter dear,
And Charles mourned o’er her doom,
Until at last his heart did break,
Now they both slumber in one tomb.

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