Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Charlotte's Story

Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-Two

Dear Readers, Some of you may remember meeting Charlotte early on in this blog. But I believe I have not yet told you her Story. Let me begin by saying that I have no idea how old she really is. I found her in a chest of old clothes in the attic of my former In-Laws home when we were cleaning it out prior to selling the house. She could have been there for forty years or one hundred and forty years! She has a china head and lower limbs with a cloth body. She is a little over 6 inches tall. It is very possible that she is a twentieth century reproduction, even though her costume is from the early Victorian era.

I have decided that her gown style dates her at the year 1852..... because she has tiered ruffles on her gown, medium width sleeves, not too bell shaped, and her petticoat is crinoline without any metal hoops. The reason I am suspicious that she is a reproduction is because her costume is entirely MACHINE stitched! This would have been unheard of in 1852 as the sewing machine was only barely invented.... and the early versions used chain stitch.... which this gown is not. But whether or not she is a reproduction does not matter to me..... she IS living in the life of 1852 in my doll world!

Here I have sacrificed her modesty to give you a glimpse of the petticoat and pantaloons she is wearing. The metal wire is a doll stand that she came with that helps her to stand up straight and not crush her petticoat.

When I found her, my FIRST thought was that she would make a lovely dollhouse doll.... even though I was not building any dollhouses at the time. I brought her home and put her in a cupboard along with other items I had been collecting for my "someday" dollhouse. You can read about that in my earliest posts on this blog. She collected some children along the way...... which you can imagine would be a problem for a proper Victorian Lady if there were no HUSBAND in sight! Eventually I decided she could either be a Widow.... or I could FIND her husband! But he would need to be the right sort of fellow.... from the correct time period, and made with a china head and cloth body like Charlotte's. So you can imagine how pleased I was when I spotted Clarence in one of the doll house supply catalogs! He looked just about right! And when he arrived I knew he was as good as I could expect given that antique Male dolls are extremely scarce!

His costume is of EXACTLY the right era, right down to the checked trousers.....
and he has a kindly expression on his face.

So you will forgive me, Dear Readers, if I step back in time a little bit further and tell you the tale of how they met........

Charlotte's family is French.... Accadian French, living in Louisiana, in the deep South of the Very Young United States of America. Clarence is from an Irish family, but he has been a sailor since he was fifteen and went to sea on a whaling ship. Now at the age of twenty six, he has worked up to being the First Mate on those new merchant ships the Clippers. It is 1843 and he is ashore in Louisiana for a brief time and he meets Charlotte out walking in a park. He is Smitten by cupid's arrows and asks for her hand in marriage. Her family accepts his suit, even though he is just an Irish sailor.... because Charlotte is already Twenty years old and has not yet married! She is rather tall.... and just a tiny bit round-cheeked...... but the fashions do change.... and Clarence thinks she is beautiful!

He really does!

And so they go forth into their world.... a young couple, newly married....

Dreaming of a bucolic life together.... just like in those old engravings by "Currier and Ives" who in 1843 were just beginning their historic productions of images depicting life in the New Country!

With images such as this one of a young Family........
And you can imagine that that child is Tommy when he was little.......

But Clarence is a sailor..... and he was more often than not at sea on one of those Magnificent Clipper ships....... the fastest sailing ships ever built.... shipping tea and spices from the Orient.... and passengers on the California Gold Rush........ Eventually owning his ship.....

While Charlotte and the children waited for him to come home.........

Never knowing WHEN that would be................. or IF............

And they had to move to the new house with me......

And I confess that I turned their cupboard house into a storage cabinet........
so they are sort of homeless......

And the children are growing up..... waiting for a HOME.......

So, recently, Clarence has decided to sell his ship and stay ashore! He has made a great deal of money with his ship.... and he has his eye on investing in those new Iron Horse Railroads that seem to be the newest thing.......

But now that he is ashore for longer periods of time..... Clarence is wanting to build his HOME for his family. Time is passing. He has just read that newly published book about whaling.... "Moby Dick"...... and it reminds him of his earliest sailing days.....

This Beautiful copy is made by the talented Caterina......... of Le Minis di Cockerina blog.......

And she even sent this tiny cigar and the impossibly tiny post cards.......

The cover is so beautiful........

But even more so the illustrations inside!

The story was first published in America in 1851......

Tommy says "Papa, will you tell me about the whaling voyages?"

But Clarence has to stop and think..... he doesn't want to remember those voyages.... they were not really the stuff to entertain a young child with....
Besides, he is a Forward thinking man..... he would rather talk about his plans for building their future.....

Dreaming about the Home he has promised them for SO LONG.....
Ever since he first met Charlotte....

Will it be a many gabled farmhouse in the country........

Or a solidly brick porticoed Manse......

Or Perhaps one of those new Italianate stone Mansions....... YES that is what he would like......

And the WINDOWS are already chosen.....
(notice how these kit windows resemble the ones in the "Currier and Ives" print above)

And I have FINALLY started the process of staining them ALL!!!

So, can you forgive me for feeling the need to BEGIN yet ANOTHER dollhouse when I have not even completed any that I am already working on? Well, then YOU try explaining to a seven year old why you have to keep moving from shelf to table to attic to shelf.......!

And I will get this beautiful Door ready for it's new position in the old Cupboard.......

Because THIS is really just the Beginning of
Charlotte's Story!


  1. Fantastic story! I loved how the windows are getting.

  2. Then I can't wait to see the progress of their new and own house and can't wait for more of Charlotte's Story!!:)

  3. You have made ​​this story so exciting! I like it! I want to know more, see the new house, and soon have news of Charlotte and Clarence .. maybe another son? :))
    is a love story so romantic, you can read, only a book!
    Thanks for having mentioned my book Moby Dick, I'm glad you like it!
    Many kisses to you, and many wishes to the new pair of lovers! ha ha!
    xxx Caterina

  4. Oh Betsy, I love your sweet doll and her story (and all your considerations about the dress, widowhood, and stuff like that...).
    The husband seems like a spinach, compared to her, but it's actually really hard to find a male doll with intelligent expression, so Charlotte can be considered completely satisfied :-)
    Now they finally have a home!
    The windows are stunning (did you use paint or stain or primer?) And we hope that the rest of the house is up with the same diligence :-)
    Catherine's books are amazing, did you?
    Mini hugs, Flora

  5. That was excellent - you tell a lovely tale! It'll be interesting to follow the couple as they start off life in their new home.

  6. Betsy, Charlotte's life is so much more interesting than mine! Thank you for sharing her with us, and her lovely family!

  7. What a lovely story. I can't wait to see Charlotte and Clarence's home. The windows and door are beautiful.


  8. Betsy, you keep out-doing yourself! I love this new story. The photo of the kids sitting on the beach nearly made me cry. Never mind - just keep on keepin' on!
    Lots of love,

  9. Betsy, what a lovely story!!! It will be wonderful to follow the building of this family's new home!!!

  10. Thank you, Eliana! I love the dark color of the Walnut stain! I'm glad you like it too!

  11. Thanks, Ewa! I think I am going to enjoy Charlotte's family and story..... I simply couldn't ignore that she was from the Victorian era and she needed her Home!

  12. Hi Caterina! I'm glad you like Charlotte's story! (HOW did you guess that there will be another son???)
    I am enjoying your book VERY much.... I just HAD to fit it into this story! Thank you again!

  13. Hi Flora! I had to laugh at your comment that Clarence is a bit of a spinnach!!! That must be something google translated for us! Ha! Charlotte IS satisfied.... a woman in her times could not always afford to be picky...
    As for the windows.... I used stain in a walnut color. I will be putting a coat of polyurethane sealer on before they are finished. I love the color.... and the Victorians liked the dark wood too.
    I am glad you are enjoying Charlotte's story.

  14. Thank you, Irene! I'm glad you enjoyed it.... there will surely be more!

  15. Hi Amy! I'm glad you think Charlotte's life is interesting! It is fun to take an era and make up stories that COULD have been real... and then give them life through the dolls...... At least it gives me a sense of what I am building... I like knowing the details!

  16. Thanks, Victoria! I do think the windows and door look stunning in the dark wood.... now I just have to make it work with the old cupboard.... we'll see!

  17. Thanks, Mom! I LOVE your comments! (I can see why.....) And of COURSE I'll keep on!!!!

  18. Thanks, Margriet! I just couldn't wait any longer! They needed to have their home... so now it is begun! Hopefully it won't take me FOREVER to finish it!!!

  19. Betsy, I love your little doll and how she came to you! She looks like an original "Frozen Charlotte" and a beauty. Someone took care making her a little period outfit. Looks like from the fabric maybe 30's or 40's. Flora always writes the best comments.....I laughed too. Your windows came out wonderful and it will be great to see the progress of the new house!

  20. Ahhhhh, so this is how the Brownstone cupboard house originated...from the needs of the really clear-skinned Clarence and Charlotte :).

    I love the story, Bets and I am not sure if you remember but I have loved porcelain Charlotte from the moment I lay eyes on her. Repro or not, she is gorgeous.