Monday, July 23, 2007

Kate's Remembrance is an assemblage of precious bits of vintage treasure nestled in a brass pendant in honor of my grandmother.

The central figure is a small bisque porcelein unjointed doll known as a "frozen charlotte" or "penny doll", which were popular in the late 19th to early 20th century. My doll is a vintage German find about 1.25" high.

The bent nail symbolizes illness.
The mother of pearl buttons are from my grandmother's collection which I inherited. Mother of pearl (or MOPs) buttons have fascinated me for years. When I discovered that Muscatine, Iowa, on the Mississippi shore was the center of mother of pearl button making in the early 1900s, they became even more interesting to me, as they originated just a couple of hours from here. The buttons were made from shells of mussels, abundantly available in the river.

I found my Frozen Charlotte on Ebay from a seller who had a lot of 5 with broken limbs. Their disrepair made them even more interesting to me, so I was thrilled when I won the bid at a very reasonable price!
Here's a bit of Frozen Charlotte lore from "Yesterday's Toys"
"The name came from Fair Charlotte, a well-known American folk ballad attributed to William Lorenzo Carter. It is believed to have been composed some time between 1833 and 1860. The ballad tells the tale of a beautiful young woman who set out in a sleigh with her lover, Charles, on a bitterly cold night to attend a ball fifteen miles away. Her mother warned her to wrap herself in a blanket to keep warm, but:
"No, no, no," fair Charlotte said
And she laughed like a gypsy queen
"To ride in blankets muffled up,
I never can be seen."
The couple rode off into the cold and, after traveling a mere five miles, Charles remarked:
"Such a night as this I never knew,
The reins I scarce can hold."
Fair Charlotte said in a feeble voice
"I am exceeding cold."
Away they ride through frozen air
In the glittering starry night
Until at length the village inn
and the ballroom were in sight.
They reached the door,
Young Charles stepped out
And held his hand to her
"Why sit you there like a monument
that hath no power to stir?"
He called her once,
he called her twice
She uttered not a word
He held his hand to her again
And still she never stirred
Then swiftly through the lighted room
Her lifeless form he bore
Fair Charlotte was a stiffened corpse
And word spoke nevermore.
Of course there was a lesson to be learned from this tragic tale, and many young girls who later played with Frozen Charlottes probably were warned:
"Now, ladies, when you hear of this
Think of that dreadful sight,
And never venture so thinly clad,
On such a winter's night."
Can't you just hear your grandmother's advice ringing out, "Take a sweater with you!"