Children artifacts are usually overlooked in the archaeological record. However, by examining children’s artifacts, archaeologists can extrapolate childhood and domestic life. A predominant classification within children’s artifacts is children’s toys. Within the context of the Riverside collection, marbles miniature tea sets, dolls and other toys were recovered.
In the Riverside Collection thirty-seven (37) ceramic children’s items were recovered. This included two (2) intact dolls, eighteen (18) doll parts, six (6) marbles, and eleven (11) tea set items. The two (2) dolls were both Frozen Charlotte Dolls. 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 in fear that it would cover up her pretty dress. She froze to death during the journey.
The 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.
Frozen Charlotte dolls were popular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States. Smaller versions of the dolls were also known as penny dolls, because they were often sold for a cent. Most were made in Germany.
They are also made in 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. These dolls became famous for the story behind their creation:
The story begins in the 1840s when Seba Smith, a Maine author, wrote a poem based on a story he read about in the newspaper. Later the poem was put to music and even later the doll was created. The tiny porcelain dolls were baked into cakes or Christmas puddings. The lucky child, who found the doll, received a prize. Here’s the story behind the legend:
Once upon a time on New Year’s Eve, a vain young girl named Charlotte set off with her lover Charles to attend a ball. The night was frigid and the sleigh ride would be long. Charlotte’s mother begged her to wrap up in a blanket for the trip, but Charlotte wore a new dress that she feared might not be seen. She refused her mother’s request, and they set off. Only once during the long ride did Charlotte complain about the cold. Charles called to the horses to run faster. When they arrived, Charles jumped down and offered Charlotte his hand, only to discover that she had frozen to death. Charles mourned until he died of a broken heart.
To make a Frozen Charlotte dessert –line the sides and bottom of a springform pan with ladyfingers. Soften 1 ½ tsp. of unflavored gelatin in a little water. Whip 2 cups of heavy cream until stiff, adding a little vanilla or rum when ready. Meanwhile, heat the softened gelatin and 3/4 cup of sugar in a heavy pan until sugar dissolves. Add gelatin mix slowly to cream while whipping with a beater. Fill the lined pan with the cream mixture. Freeze overnight. Serve with more whipped cream, strawberries, cherries, or hot fudge.
The original poem can be found at:
Marble games have been played in all parts of the world with all kinds of playing pieces for more than two thousand years. Children in colonial America played with marbles made of stone or clay, while glass marbles were highly prized among children's playthings in the nineteenth century. Enclosure games, hole games and conquering games are all traditional marble games that are still familiar today.
The marbles recovered are not perfectly round nor are they totally consistent in size and so are perfect imitations of the original handmade clay marbles. The six (6) marbles were made of clay. All marbles are undecorated.