Oct 25, 2011

Collecting Frozen Charlottes and Bisque Dolls

A handful of years ago, I was browsing the shelves at my most favorite natural history store "The Bone Room" (Albany, CA) when I noticed the very friendly sales girl unwrapping some peculiar broken dolls. My friend and I were immediately drawn in and the sales girl was so excited to tell us all about them. I bought two dolls after the girl explained that they had been excavated from a former bisque factory in Thuringia Germany. She told us that when it rained these old doll fragments would pop out of the moist ground after having been buried in the dirt for quite a while. I knew then that I had to have them.

Bisque dolls were popular between 1860 and 1900. They were favored because of their realistic looking features made of unglazed porcelain with a matte finish. These dolls were predominately made in Germany factories. The first dolls were made in the likeness of adults. After a few decades they were made to resemble children. The earlier ones referred to as "dolly-faced dolls." Many of these child-like dolls, produced between 1890-1930, were made in factories in Thurngia, Germany, the region rich in natural clay deposits used in the production.

Frozen Charlotte is a term to describe a particular china or bisque doll. These dolls were moulded in one solid piece-essentially "frozen" in one place. The theory goes that their name was derived from the poem "Young Charlotte" by Seba Smith, a sad Victorian story of a young girl freezing to death. 

To this day enthusiasts and collectors are still excavating dolls and doll pieces from the old factory sites in Thurngia. 

If you are interested collecting bisque dolls and Frozen Charlottes I suggest asking your local librarian for directions to the antique and collection section. A good library should have a few books on doll collecting. Amazon.com com offers a few helpful titles; China, Parian & Bisque German Dolls, A Pictorial Reference Guide To German Chinas, and In The Palm Of One's Hands: Small Bisque Dolls, 1877-1920. If you are wondering about values, check a Blue Book Doll book, Amazon has those too. 


  1. What a charming blog & delightful post! I'm honored to have a photo included among the dolls. Best wishes, Allie

  2. Love the blog about Frozen Charlottes! They are wonderful forgotten (almost) little treasures:) Thanks for using my pictures!