Santa bank notes
A curious short post was published on the NY Fed’s Liberty Street Economics blog. Apparently, during the so-called ‘free banking’ era, some US banks printed Santa bank notes:
During the unregulated 19th century, a variety of banks issued their own holiday-themed currency. One popular figure featured on many bills was Santa Claus. Christmas was declared an official holiday in many northern states in the mid-1800s, and some banks celebrated by creating Santa Claus currency. This was a very popular time for Santa in the United States, spurred on by the publication of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823.
The Santa Claus bank notes became very popular as keepsakes, because denominations were typically small and the subject was at the forefront of peoples’ minds given the brand-new official holiday. One motivation for the banks to release these and other collectible currencies was to dissuade people from redeeming the bills for their underlying gold value.
(on a side note: the “unregulated 19th century”? ahem…)
Here is an example of one of those private Santa notes: