As the year winds down and we find ourselves in the midst of the holiday season, the currency department at Stack’s Bowers reflects on an obscure but popular niche of currency collecting with a Christmas theme — Santa Claus notes.
During the time when private banks issued their own circulating paper money (which we commonly refer to now as obsolete banknotes), banks would often choose vignettes for their notes which would promote good will among the public toward their institutions. Several banks chose vignettes with various depictions of Santa Claus.
Some vignettes showed the jolly old elf in the traditional sense we think of today, a jolly fat man with a beard in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Some depicted a much slimmer Santa while others made him appear more like an elf from his workshop.
A few of the banks that issued these notes were the Lamoille County Bank (VT), the Bank of Milwaukee (WI), the White Mountain Bank (NH), and even the Saint Nicholas Bank (NY) which also received national charter number 972 and issued nationals during the First Charter period.
All of these Santa Claus notes are scarce today. They are highly prized by collectors and hotly contested when offered at auction. Prices run from the lower four-figure range for some of the more common notes in affordable grades to the mid five-figures for the rarest and highest quality notes.
Above is an example of a Santa Note from one of our previous auctions.