The ever fascinating blog of the New York Fed tells us that, among the many different types of bank note issued by around 1,600 US banks during the nineteenth century, some included pictures of Santa Claus.
Only in 1861 did the Federal Government start issuing paper currency; from that point the Treasury had a monopoly on note issuance. Before that date, banks were free to issue their own currency and to make it as colourful, striking or entertaining as possible. Christmas was made an official holiday in many northern states in the mid-1800s and some banks issued festive banknotes to celebrate. The figure of Santa Claus had become newly famous in North America at that time after the success of a poem A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore, which has the famous opening lines:
‘T was the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
A happy holiday season to all readers!