Thursday, March 8, 2012

She Loved to Play With Her Dead Doll

Leave it to the Victorians to create a doll modeled after a dead girl.  The dolls are ghostly white bisque with frozen limbs.  They feel cool to the touch.  Like tragic little corpses.

First manufactured in 1850, Frozen Charlottes come in all sizes, ranging from a mere ½" to 18" tall.

So who was this famous dead girl?

Dressed in her finest gown, Charlotte and her boyfriend drove in his sleigh to a New Year's Eve Ball in rural upstate New York.  Vain girl that she was, she refused to wrap up in the heavy woolen sleigh blankets because she wanted to make sure anyone they passed could see how beautiful she was in her ball gown.  When the young couple arrived at the party, her date discovered that Charlotte had frozen to death.

The account appeared in the New York Observer on February 8, 1840.  Poet Seba Smith immortalized the story with the poem Young Charlotte.  William Carter set the poetic tribute to music.

The dolls were originally produced as bathing dolls.  They were the rubber duckies of the 19th Century.  The tiniest Charlottes were also baked into children's birthday cakes or Christmas puddings as party favors.

Had she lived today, I'm sure we would see Charlotte on Girls Gone Wild.

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