Friday, June 19, 2009

Porcelain Doll from Dauphin County

This tiny porcelain doll was recovered from the Gayman’s Tavern Site (36DA169), formerly located in Dauphin, PA, by McCormick Taylor & Associates, Inc. The main block of the tavern was constructed in 1863 and the building ceased operating as a tavern in 1888, by 1890 it had become a private residence.

These dolls are commonly referred to as Frozen Charlottes and range in size from one to eighteen inches, with no moving parts. The smaller one inch varieties were usually sold for a penny making them accessible to many children. A popular custom of the time, although not recommended today, was to bake them into a cake thus leaving the luckiest child to find a prize when biting into the cake.

Legend has it that the name Frozen Charlotte comes from an American folk tale about a young maiden who set out for a party and against her mother’s wishes, she refused to dress warmly enough for the inclement weather. As a result she froze to death before arriving at the party. Surely this tale is meant as a warning to all young ladies to mind their mother’s warnings when setting out under such conditions and dress for the weather, even if it is not fashionable.

For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

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